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The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen

The Professionals (edition 2012)

by Owen Laukkanen

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2684442,397 (3.55)32
Title:The Professionals
Authors:Owen Laukkanen
Info:Berkley (2012), Mass Market Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Fiction, Crime Fiction, Minnesota

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The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen

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    Death Benefits by Thomas Perry (amyblue)
    amyblue: Both are excellent crime thrillers with a fast paced plot and believable characters.

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What do recent college graduates with a more student loan debt than job prospects do when the economy collapses and the best prospects are brewing coffee? If they’re Arthur Pender and his friends Sawyer, Mouse, and Marie, they do a little economic redistribution. They become professional kidnappers who avoid detection by hitting bank executives and the like with plenty of money, asking for low level ransoms so they can get paid and get out. They’re careful, they plan, they have a system, and it works.

Until two things happen, Stevens, a Minnesota state police officer in the BSA, investigates one of their kidnappings and has the imagination to see that they are not opportunists, but professionals and goes to the FBI. He joins with Windermere, a fast-moving FBI agent who sees this could be a career-making case. The other thing, they kidnap the wrong guy, the husband of a woman who has long, strong mafia ties across the country.

So, we have three groups of professionals, the kidnappers, the mafia hit men sent to track them led by a guy names D’Antonio, and law enforcement, Stevens and Windermere. And we have suspense that never lets up, not from the very beginning. This is a clear-time-on-your-calendar book.

I could not put this book down. This is a thriller and in the best thriller sense, the writing is economical, it facilitates the story and never asks you to pause and admire itself. We know what Stevens, Pender, and D’Antonio are thinking. This gives it a complexity that puts us subtly on the side of both the kidnappers and the police. We understand Pender. He doesn’t think he’s a bad guy, he doesn’t want anybody to get hurt, but he will protect his crew.

The Stevens and Windermere relationship is interesting and will be sure to develop more because this is the first in a series that now includes four additional volumes, including Criminal Enterprise, Kill Fee, The Stolen Ones, and The Watcher in the Wall.

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/the-professionals-by-owen-laukkanen/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Sep 13, 2016 |
Excellent first novel by Owen Laukkanen! The Professionals is a very interesting tale of some college kids who just want what we all do - job, money, vacation. These four are having trouble getting their wishes so they, on a whim, decide to go into kidnapping.

Not the million dollar ransom type, just 60k here and there until they have built up enough to go away. Of course, dreams don't always work the way you want them to and someone ends up dead. The kidnapping crew is suddenly on the run for their lives and mistakes are made.

In the middle of it all come Carla Windemere, FBI, and a state investigator named Kirk Stevens. Carla is a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kind of agent and Kirk is not. Their back and forth conversations add to the draw of this book. These characters are perfectly written and I loved it! ( )
  macygma | Sep 11, 2016 |
This was a good read. Fast-paced, believable characters and a good premise. This is a series that I will read others in. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
[The Professionals] by Owen Laukkanen
Windermere and Stevens series Book #1

From The Book:
Four friends, caught in a terrible job market, joke about turning to kidnapping to survive. And then, suddenly, it’s no joke. For two years, the strategy they devise works like a charm—until they kidnap the wrong man.
Now two groups are after them—the law, in the form of veteran state investigator Kirk Stevens and hotshot young FBI agent Carla Windermere, and an organized crime outfit looking for payback. As they crisscross the country in a series of increasingly explosive confrontations, each of them is ultimately forced to recognize the truth: The real professionals, cop or criminal, are those who are willing to sacrifice everything.

My Thoughts:
A really great new author for me that was recommended as my Blind Date With A Book. This whole endeavor started for these four young friends as a game that not one of them took seriously until they just tried it once and found that it worked better than they ever imagined. They were selective...they never asked for huge amounts of ransom...they always released their victim unharmed immediately after the ransom was dropped...they moved from state to state never staying in one place very long...and they didn't even have guns. All went smoothly until it didn't. Luck was always on their side and then it went horribly wrong and from there continued to spin faster and faster out of control taking them on a ride with catastrophic consequences.

The strange thing the author makes you like these kids. You find yourself wanting them to come out ahead even though you know everything is headed south. The FBI agent, Windermere and the Minnesota detective, Stevens are both dedicated cops that just won't give up. Owen Laukkanen has produced a 5 star first book in this series. I have already asked the library for the other 3 and I hope he is busy writing number 5. ( )
  Carol420 | Aug 18, 2016 |
I really liked 'The Professionals'..... it looks like a promising start of a new crime series by Owen Laukkanen. It has an interesting plot, is well-written, the dialogue is crisp and realistic, and it wraps up nicely. It did seem to drag a bit in the final 3rd, but it would have been extremely difficult to continue the fast pace of the beginning all the way to the end.

The story follows a group of young college grads who were unable to find decent jobs after leaving school as they continue their 2nd year as 'professional' kidnappers. They've developed a unique approach to their chosen profession- they move from city to city, identify rich 'targets' who seem to have available cash, make the grab, then low-ball their ransom request. The victims are released quickly, the police are left out of the equation, they get their money and blow town, and their hidden bank accounts grow. It works like a well-oiled machine, until it doesn't. They have a short period of bad luck in which they tick off the wrong victim which leads to FBI involvement, then they inadvertently kidnap a Mafia princess's husband. The rest of the book is a great cat and mouse search.

The first half of 'The Professionals' reminded me quite a bit of Elmore Leonard's work in that nothing ever works perfectly in a criminal enterprise and the police end up making the right moves to solve the crimes. However, in many cases Leonard's bad guys are also dumb guys, which leads to their demise. In this case, these are smart guys (and girl) who are pretty meticulous in their work. They just become uncharacteristically sloppy for a short period, and that's what unravels their enterprise. The dialogue is strong but nowhere near the hyper-realistic (and often hilarious) level of Leonard's work, but that's mostly because these criminals are a little better educated.

I won't go into detail on the plot, but suffice to say that cross country travel is involved and that, as a bad guy, it's usually not a good move to have both the Mafia and the FBI on your tail. Just sayin'. ( )
  gmmartz | Jun 21, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0399157891, Hardcover)

John Sandford reviews The Professionals

Alex George

John Sandford is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of twenty-two Prey novels and eleven other works of fiction, most recently the Virgil Flowers novel Shock Wave. He lives in Minnesota.

The list of things that can foul up a perfectly good thriller is a long one. Sometimes they are so prevalent that if you go into a mystery bookstore and ask the owner, “Anything new and good?,” he may have twenty new books around the counter, and maybe he’ll hand you one.

Some of the other writers will learn the trade, eventually, but this one, this one’s worth reading right now.

Owen Laukkanen is a new guy, but you’d never know it. The Professionals is one of those books that you’ll tend to read in one sitting. The basic story involves a crew of professional kidnappers who have refined their technique to an art form--until they stumble, and art turns to blood. Laukkanen writes so well that his prose disappears into the story, and you live it: The Professionals is full of real people, struggling through extreme circumstances, but nothing that you don’t believe.

Both the good and the bad guys come in a variety of flavors, and his cops combine wit and charm--in fact, his pairing of FBI agent Carla Windermere and BCA agent Kirk Stevens is so good and full of possibilities that I can’t wait to see what they do next.

The Professionals is a real, down-and-dirty thriller: the story never, ever slows down.

If I were you, I’d get started now.

Photo of John Sandford © John Earle

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Four friends, recent college graduates, caught in a terrible job market, joke about turning to kidnapping to survive. And then, suddenly, it's no joke. For two years, the strategy they devise--quick, efficient, low risk--works like a charm. Until they kidnap the wrong man. Now two groups they've very much wanted to avoid are after them--the law, in the form of veteran state investigator Kirk Stevens and hotshot young FBI agent Carla Windermere, and an organized crime outfit looking for payback. As they all crisscross the country in a series of increasingly explosive confrontations, each of them is ultimately forced to recognize a brutal truth: The true professionals, cop or criminal, are those who are willing to sacrifice everything."-- Provided by publisher.… (more)

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