Friday, April 13, 2012

The Professionals, by Owen Laukkanen

The Professionals is a very accomplished first novel from Owen Laukkanen. It reminded me of a cross between John Sandford and Don Winslow. 

The Professionals is the story of a small group of college friends who, faced with a dismal job market, decide to go into kidnapping instead. They are careful to do their research and keep the ransoms small, to stay under the radar. A mistake leads them to show up on the radar not only of law enforcement, but the mob as well. What follows is a race between the kidnappers, the mob and the FBI with the outcome in doubt all the way to the end.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were fresh and likeable and the rotating viewpoints between kidnappers, mob and law enforcement kept the mood tense and exciting. Laukkanen does a good job of showing how one little decision can start a cascade of events leading far away from initial plans. This is true for both the pursuers and the pursued. 

The action speeds back and forth across the country and the pages keep flying by as you try to keep up. The suspense continues to build as the noose around the kidnappers tighten. I wasn’t sure who I was rooting for all the way up to the end. That’s a testament to how well written and sympathetic the characters are. 

While there is a good deal of time spent with the law enforcement agents, Windermere and Stevens, there is a good deal more to explore with them. If Laukkanen’s writing gets even better with future effort, he’s going to be a big name in crime fiction. Highly recommended. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book through librarything.