Kill Fee by Own Laukkanen

Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen is the third Stevens and Windermere book and it’s clear Laukkanen has found a winning formula.  The brilliance of the series is how simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary the criminals are.  The criminals are not from bad families or raised on the street types.  They are ordinary, sometimes affluent, people you might interact with every day.  Something has clicked in their life to make them step outside the law and they discover that they not only have a gift for crime, but a taste for it.

Kill Fee starts with Stevens and Windermere having a casual lunch when a billionaire is gunned down by a sniper right in front of them.  This begins a chase for the shooter which uncovers a high-tech murder for hire scheme.  Stevens works cold cases for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  Despite being happily married to a wife who would prefer he stay out of harm’s way, he is drawn to the excitement of the FBI and Agent Carla Windermere.   

Kill Fee takes the two agents from Minneapolis to Miami to Philadelphia and Las Vegas.  Their skills truly complement each other.  Windermere is dogged and thorough and Stevens is insightful and imaginative.  The mastermind behind the kill for hire scheme is meticulous and careful.  One wrong move could provide the thread that unravels everything he has worked for.

Laukkanen provides plenty of action with gunfights and car chases, but where he truly excels is in creating that sense of the noose slowly drawing close around the neck of the criminal as their options and avenues of escape dwindle one by one.  He spends a lot of time letting you get to know the criminals as well as the cops, so even if you don’t exactly feel sorry for them, you understand them.

The odd sexual chemistry between Stevens and Windermere is the one puzzling thing to this book and the series to date.  It would be one thing if Stevens weren’t so happily married, but he takes pains to show that he is.  That makes the attraction and mutual temptation with Windermere just this side of creepy.  

Kill Fee is perhaps the most complete and skilled work by Laukkanen so far.  If you like fast-paced action with skilled cops and robbers, you’ll love this book.  I look forward to many more entries in this series.  Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

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