The blistering new novel from the author of the multi-award-nominated The Professionals - "Laukkanen is one of the best young thriller writers working today" (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
When you've got nothing left, you've got nothing left to lose. Cass County, Minnesota: A sheriff's deputy steps out of a diner on a rainy summer evening, and a few minutes later, he's lying dead in the mud. When BCA agent Kirk Stevens arrives on the scene, he discovers local authorities have taken into custody a single suspect: a hysterical young woman found sitting by the body, holding the deputy's own gun. She has no ID, speaks no English. A mystery woman. The mystery only deepens from there, as Stevens and Carla Windermere, his partner in the new joint BCA-FBI violent crime task force, find themselves on the trail of a massive international kidnapping and prostitution operation. Before the two agents are done, they will have traveled over half the country, from Montana to New York, and come face-to-face not only with the most vicious man either of them has ever encountered - but two of the most courageous women. They are sisters, stolen ones. But just because you're a victim doesn't mean you have to stay one.
©2015 Owen Laukkanen (P)2015 Recorded Books
After reading Laukkanen's first 3 books I decided to try this one as an audio book. The story was riveting and I couldn't wait to get back in the car to listen more. The narrator did a good job with accents and differentiating character voices to make it easy to follow the story, even at 1.5x speed.
Mostly though, Owen is proving that he is a young writer that is one of the absolute best out there and deserves to be among the best sellers and most talked about fiction writers.
Start with the first book in the series, because once you read one you will end up reading them all. Might as well do it in order.
I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
Absolutely. This is truly a thriller, The third in the series, featuring the team of Kirk Stevens and Carla Windemere. This time they get involved in the horrific crime of human trafficking. Women from Eastern Europe are dazzled by lies about America, and then they are stuffed into the huge containers that are the freight of international ocean liners. There is one bucket for a container full of women, who are now being kidnapped, as the ship travels over the Atlantic with 95% of their cargo legitimate, and one container that is full of frightened women, living in darkness, and headed for a horrendous fate in the United States. This is great material, and the characters are fully human.
Yes. I've already given a brief synopsis of the plot, but listening to ten or more hours of the good guys chasing the bad guys is pure thrill, and listening to it being read by Edoardo Ballerini is a pleasure almost unmatched in audiobooks. The domestic lives of Stevens and Windermere are believable and completely un-contrived (if that is a word). The bad guys are disgusting vermin whom you just love to hate. It works.
There are many fine scenes. The goriest, if that is what rings your bell, is the scene in which the bad guys are being chased all around Newark Airport, in their car. You have to listen to it to believe it, but you will.
I didn't have an extreme reaction. There wasn't any crying, but there probably was some snickering at Windermere's whip-like personality. She cuts down men ruthlessly, demonstrating how wicked a woman has to act in order to get respect in the world of law enforcement, particularly at the level of the FBI.
This series is fun, and it shows great promise. Laukkenan is very inventive, and there is nothing far-fetched or phony about his fertile imagination. I can sense that he is plotting out several of the books which are to come, and I, personally, can't wait. What a gas.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
I had several issues with this book. But the one that affected my opinion the most was that Edoardo Ballerini was not the right narrator for this book. He is one of my favorites, but his voice has a lyrical, sweeping quality that is just too "much" for a procedural detective series. I can't explain any more effectively than this. Simply that a modern detective mystery set in the midwest isn't the right genre for him.
The premise of the novel was interesting and timely. However, the plot was incredibly implausible and I finished the book with the impression that the young girl the detectives spent most of the book searching for was far more intelligent than the detectives and probably could have rescued herself easier than she ultimately did, if they had just stayed out of it. Most of the book involved the detectives jumping from one sleazy bar in one state to a whorehouse two states over and it was never clear to me how they thought this was going to help them find the missing girl.
Finally, the author, at least in this book suffers from the "Kill them already" syndrome. The last 10% of the book was devoted primarily to two bad guys dying over and over again. They shot each other, you thought at least one of them was dead, then the next thing you know they are attacking each other again, you think "finally!" And then here they come again. This tactic doesn't add suspense and it doesn't drive the plot. it just extends the book a few more pages. It is an overused gimmick.
I was hoping I would finish this book and be ready to read the rest of the series. But, no thanks.
There are just way to many time that you say, really 'I didn't expect that' and yes I am being sarcastic. Wow, the BCA agent's wife just happened to grow up next to a Romanian family, and surprise, here's a Romanian refugee.... who'd of thunk it.... it's a 7th grade plot and story.
The wisdom is reaching far beyond what we see. Delight in the journey
There are some portions of this book that are fairly well done but the depiction of the supposed professionals is sometimes ridiculous. Seasoned professionals do not tend to get overly involved, overly emotional, overwrought, or spout off overly dramatic speeches. If you were to throw in a couple of foot chases, where both the criminals and the police are competitive long distance runners; or car chases with the sound of squealing rubber on dirt roads and it's a TV drama. Finally there is Carla Windemere the FBI agent whose personality disorder is the early stages of psychopathy; it's hard to believe that anyone as overly emotional as her could remain in the bureau; much less rise to any appreciative level. This was a daily deal purchase so I took a shot and gave it a chance but even at 2.95 it's not a great deal.
The story has such promise but I couldn't take it after half the book. A kidnapped girl secretly texts with her kidnapper sitting beside her? That was the final straw. Way too much unrealistic stuff. When the villain is called The Dragon or the Big Bad Wolf you need to be a child or have the mind of one to enjoy it. Glad I bought this on the Daily Deal because it sucked.
1.5 dimensional characters who make the characters of slasher films look like Mensa members. Not worth your time.
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
On balance The Stolen Ones (TSO) was diverting. Ballerini's gentle voice though may have been a tad more, um, contrapuntal than the harsh storyline demanded. Still the lead characters are engaging - but so much of the plot is... Well getting hit on the noggin' by say a falling safe is improbable, getting hit multiple time? Bad plotting. You REALLY GOTTA' suspend your disbelief to imagine that so many coincidences could happen to let BCA agent Kirk Stevens who sidekicks the extraordinarily gorgeous FBI agent Carla Windermere, solve this tale of kidnapped Rumanians.
Still, I listened to the entire thing, and you probably will as well if you've spent a credit on TSO...
The reading performance very good. The story however was pure paint-by-numbers thriller, with the intrepid heroes always first to be on any scene despite the hundreds of other officers involved. There was an attempt at nuance with a conflicted human trafficker concerned with moving from recruitment to kidnapping, which was appreciated, but everyone else in the story was essentially a TV caricature.
Love my family...along with guitars, road bikes, cameras, and a good book!
The hardest part about this book for me is the knowledge that this kind of thing actually happens. There are actually young women who are stolen from their homes, and sold into slavery. So, this was hard for me to read knowing that. Putting that aside, this was a very well written book. I had not read any others in this series, as this was a Daily Deal that I bought some time ago, but that did not seem to make much of a difference. I am sure that there are some threads that I didn't pick up because of this, but it didn't bother the story in this book.
The plot moved along very nicely, and the characters were consistent and provoked a lot of emotion. Exactly what you want a good book to do. Ballerini is a masterful narrator. I have listened to many of his reads, and am always quite pleased. This is a good book, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers.
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