The new Stevens and Windermere novel from the author of the dazzlingly acclaimed The Professionals - "one of the best debuts of the year" (Mystery Scene).
From the outside, Carter Tomlin's life looked perfect: a big house, pretty wife, two kids - a St. Paul success story. But Tomlin has a secret. He's lost his job, the bills are mounting, and that perfect life is hanging by a thread. Desperate, he robs a bank. Then he robs another.
As the red flags start to go up, FBI Special Agent Carla Windermere homes in on Tomlin from one direction, while Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens picks up the trail from another. The two cops haven't talked since their first case together, but that's all going to change very quickly.
Because Carter Tomlin's decided he likes robbing banks. And it's not because of the money; not anymore. Tomlin has guns and a new taste for violence. And he's not quitting anytime soon.
©2013 Owen Laukkanen (P)2013 Penguin Audio
The plot is reminiscent of, well, the author's first novel: a normal sort of person is lured into a life of crime almost by chance and gets more and more corrupted by the experience as he goes along. To be honest, I was a little surprised: was this going to be Mr. Laukkanen's premise in every novel? (Could we expect, for example, an art teacher to become an art thief in his next one?) Still, the writing was so entertaining -- and Mr. Ballerini so superb as the reader, as usual -- that I didn't really mind. In the end, I found it to be even better than The Professionals. The line between the good and the bad guys is clearer here. The personal 'qualities' that make the main character keep on robbing banks more believable (although there are plenty of improbable coincidences but, again, I did not mind). Tons of surprises. Tons of fun.
63 y/o psychologist with two sons, living in SF Bay Area. I absolutely love all the feedback I've been getting for my reviews. It's very gratifying. Thanks to all of you.
I really loved Mr. Laukkanen's first book. I really love this one too. And Mr. Ballerini has now firmly installed himself as my favorite narrator since Frank Muller, which is high praise, indeed. Like the first book, this one is a race down a highway to hell. It does not have the feel of a sequel, though. Carter Tilton, the head of the gang, bears little semblance to Pender, the main crazy in the first book. An accountant who loses his job, and who has a mansion and a family, Tilton gets quickly sucked down into the vortex (I just had to use that trope, I know) of crime, and his crimes rise rapidly in their violence. He starts with little notes to bank tellers, and proceeds to much higher wattage crime in a hurry. His female assistant is just as wacko as he. Her boyfriend drives the getaway car. The team of Kirk Stevens of the Minnesota BPA and Carla Windermere of the FBI is once again charming. They are in dogged pursuit of the criminals, and they both just will not quit. The sexual tension is everywhere: between the two of them, between Tilton and his wife Becca, between Tilton and Tricia, his accomplice. You can cast the movie in your mind with favorite actors. I would absolutely love Cate Blanchett in the Tricia role. As you can see, I had a lot of fun with this book. Laukkanen writes very well, with authority, with an informed sense of place that makes you believe he lives in Minneapolis-St. Paul (although in the first book I could have sworn that he lived in Seattle). He puts you in the car and drives you with each turn of events. There is no way that you can put this book down, other than to catch your breath. I also love that the editor/publisher allows Mr. Ballerini to read at his own pace: his voice is lustrous, his pacing exactly right, his ability to do precisely what the author wants him to do: all exactly on the money. I have heard a few books in which he was clearly pushed to go too fast, which was something that was done to Mr. Muller, too, on occasion. When you allow these guys to slow down, they show you every nuance of their mighty skills. I would dearly love it if Mr. Ballerini had a career as long as or even longer than that of Mr. Muller, who died in a motorcycle accident when he was in his fifties. A voice this rich, combined with the actorly skills and all the rest: we could be in for one of the most enjoyable audiobook careers imaginable. Listen to this. Trust me. Would I steer you wrong?
The narrator was terrific. The story was full of unexpected twists and turns. I'll be looking for others by this author.
In the course of his daily life, when money gets tight and his job prospects are uncertain, the hero discovers he's a psychopath. He's just another man on the make in materialist America, and then he isn't. Very well done.
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