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)
Engaging tale with well developed plot, characterisation and suspense elevation. The dialogue was snappy and credible. I considered the narration to be first rate.
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.
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.
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!
Owen Laukkanen basically wrote the same story twice, with two different sets of characters. Seemingly ordinary people turn to crime when financially squeezed. This one doesn't work as well as "Criminal Enterprise" because the characters aren't as believable. The plot rolled right along, but I didn't roll with it.
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.
Not from Laukkanen, but I don't notice narrators unless they are very good or very bad.
It had to be very well written and plotted to pull this off. I didn't think either was the case.
None of it seemed very realistic, yet much of it was dreary.
I don't like giving away plot lines. I just am amazed that this book published in the first place.
If they could have found a narrator who could make this book sound as silly as it is, it might have been entertaining. Really, Bellerini sounds like he's in mourning, no matter what the action. And those kidnappers would have been slaughtered about twice a day during the story course in any realistic book. They should have just been given a switch that turned them invisible, with uzis, whenever trouble came, and call it a fantasy. Then, there's all that moping by everyone - law enforcement, mobsters and kidnappers - like a bunch of lovesick teenagers. The only reason I rated it so high was that it did have sort of a plot and the action moved along with the road trip, so it could have been worse. Or maybe not. I might just be in a mellow mood.
I had a hard time really liking any of the characters is this book. The 4 college students were the most appealing and they were suppose to be the bad guys. Don't expect a happy ending.
Better ending would be nice...
Let the main character have a good life!
Bad ending....very disappointing ......
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