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 deadly pursuit and a series of increasingly explosive confrontations, each of them is ultimately forced to recognize the truth: The true professionals, cop or criminal, are those who are willing to sacrifice...everything.
A finger-burning page-turner, filled with twists, surprises, and memorably complex characters, The Professionals marks the arrival of a remarkable new writer.
©2012 Owen Laukkanen (P)2012 Penguin Audiobooks
“Fasten your seat belts, Owen Laukkanen’s The Professionals is one heck of a wild ride. A first-class thriller by a terrific new voice.” (John Lescroart)
“Really terrific – characters that live and breathe, a just-right story, and chills aplenty. Highly recommended." (Lee Child)
“Smoothly written, with a slam-bang ending, The Professionals is a brutally beautiful piece of work. Owen Laukkanen takes us straight into the hearts of the bad guys, and what we find there is something very complicated and still very bad. The cops are just as complex as the villains, and Laukkanen nicely captures the personal and sexual tension between Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere as they track down the gang: this is a pairing that will wear well.” (John Sandford)
For a first novel, this is some book. I found myself saying "Wow" about five times when I finished it. Both the author and the narrator are excellent. The plot involves four liberal arts grads who can't find jobs and decide, on a lark, to kidnap people for ransom. Gutsy plot choice, and there are some implausibilities in it, but both of these guys are so talented that you forgive the left turns. The crew has some early success, but they are tracked down by an FBI-Minnesota State police team, Windermere and Stephens. These two people are beautifully drawn, as is the sexual tension between them. The chase accelerates to the point at which the trap closes on the kids, and the writing gets even better, if that is possible. Mr. Laukkanen knows how to ramp up the pace, and Mr. Balerini gets every note right. The kidnappers travel around the Eastern U.S. in order to evade capture, but the noose keeps tightening, and violence escalates. The end of the book is so exciting that, even though you may be able to guess it, you are still held entranced. A standoff in a cruddy motel room, with hundreds of cops, media everywhere, a hostage, and finally the last man standing. He keeps you guessing until the very last moment, with the final scene on a jet plane. Read this quickly, and let's all hope this author is writing his next book right now.
This book started out fine and I was looking to settle into a good thriller but it soon began to deterioate. As the gang began to make mistake after mistake I found myself getting more and more frustrated. It was like watching a slapstick movie. The narrator was very good and made it possible to hear the book through to the end.
I downloaded the book to keep me busy on a long drive. I got to the hotel late, should have gone to bed immediately since I had to be up and alert early the next morning....but I could not stop listening till it ended. I thought the story was great -- if, of course, a tad unbelievable. Both the good guys and the bad guys are portrayed as flawed, but human. And the plot twists never stop coming. Amazing debut novel. Can't wait for Mr. Laukkanen's next.
The reader is, of course, great. I first listened to him in Beautiful Ruins, where he did an astounding job (he was actually one of the main reasons I downloaded this novel). He did not disappoint. What a beautiful voice! What an amazing range! Easily my new favorite Audible reader.
It was exciting. I found myself sitting in the driveway trying to finish a chapter in my car.
Pender--flawed, but interesting.
Ballerini is now in my top three narrators--the others being Scott Brick and Dick Hill. A great find!
The ending was sad, but just and inevitable!
Engaging tale with well developed plot, characterisation and suspense elevation. The dialogue was snappy and credible. I considered the narration to be first rate.
This book was compelling from the start. It was an original premise; young adults with no job prospects turn to kidnapping.
I thought the title "The Professionals" was interesting and ironic--though I don't know if the author meant it to be. It seems that every character in the book, though a professional in her/his "field," got into trouble by acting un-professionally.
Very depressing. Did not like this at all. Wish I hadn't wasted my time and money.
It's the first in a series, and I was hoping for bit more. Maybe my expectations was a bit to high, so I'm trying not to be hard on the author, but it didn't really grab my attention.
This book started off with great promise. A fast-paced story with a compelling premise and very well performed by Ballerini. There's just one problem- I don't enjoy reading about characters who are… stupid. Yup, the lead character styles himself and his gang as professional, but most professionals I know aren't, you know, stupid.
I could list all the points along the way where I was metaphorically slapping my forehead in slack-jawed wonderment at the various choices made by the "professionals", but who has the time? On the other hand, if you're a fan of unintentional comedy, there are lots of guffaws to be had in this novel, particularly as things spiral out of control in the book's second half. The plot wraps up in predictably maudlin fashion, but no need to worry as by then you will be long past caring.
It's too bad. Laukkanen knows how to keep things on the boil, and the first third or so doesn't stray too far from intelligent. If the author could have a bit more respect for his readers he could grow into a decent thriller writer. Wake me up when that happens.
You can tell by the description of the book what the major story line is. But the dialog and writing is so good and you get a good understanding of each character. This writing goes deeper into characters in 11 hours than a lot of 20 hours novels I've listened to.
I loved this one and as soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to use a credit on "Criminal Enterprise" so I can continue to follow Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere.
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