Maddy's Reviews > The Professionals

The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen
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Apr 20, 2012

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bookshelves: 2012-reads
Read in April, 2012

PROTAGONIST: Kirk Stevens, Minnesota state investigator, and Carla Winderemere, FBI special agent

In this economy, finding a job is tough, especially if you a twenty-something without a lot of experience to offer. There are four friends who find themselves in this situation when one of them, Arthur Pender, has a brilliant flash of inspiration. Why not take advantage of what the wealthier segment of the population has to offer? The plan is to research each potential victim extensively, kidnap them, and then ask for a minimal ransom. Traditionally, ransoms for the rich are in the millions of dollars; instead, our creative group seeks one hundred thousand dollars or less. Pender feels that the victim’s family will easily be able to put together that kind of money and won’t feel the need to involve the police for such a paltry sum. That’s their 5-year plan—low risk, no violence and then live happily ever after.

The plan works perfectly for two years when something goes wrong and they abduct a victim whose wife just happens to be involved in the Mob. When one of the team actually kills someone, the game changes entirely. Pender, his girlfriend Marie, Mouse and Sawyer now have a hit man on their tail, as well as FBI agent Carla Windermere and a Minnesota state investigator, Kirk Stevens. The stakes get higher and higher, with Mouse grievously injured and Sawyer and Pender turning vigilante. Marie has taken a brief respite from the group but is soon tracked down by the authorities, who use her for bait to capture the trio, who have been joined by another young woman who is a bored rich girl. Knowing that their options are running out, the group decides on one last job with a ransom demand of 5 million dollars to fund their future.

I really enjoyed the book up until the time that the group went on the run. Their kidnapping idea was clever, and it was interesting to see how they prepared for each abduction. Once things turned bad, though, the book went downhill for me. Here was a group of young people who without any prior experience were able to use automatic weapons and actually gun down professional assassins. It was quite implausible to me that Pender was able to dictate the terms of releasing the latest victim and call all of the shots. Would the authorities really act this way?

The book showed a lot of promise until the narrative spun completely out of control. THE PROFESSIONALS is a debut novel; the intention is to build a series featuring Windermere and Stevens, each of whom has their own modus operandi which doesn’t necessarily mesh with the other’s. I’m having a hard time envisioning how this partnership would work. However, Laukkanen definitely shows potential; it will be interesting to see what direction he takes with future efforts.
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