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The Professionals (Stevens & Windermere #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  2,454 Ratings  ·  517 Reviews

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

Hardcover, 370 pages
Published March 29th 2012 by Putnam Adult (first published January 1st 2012)
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James Thane
This is an excellent debut thriller with a great cast of characters, a totally plausible and entertaining plot, and a pace that will keep readers turning the pages at a blistering pace.

When the economy is in the dumpster, what is a young person supposed to do? Four friends, Marie McAllister, Arthur Pender, Ben Stirzaker and Matt Sawyer are recent college graduates with good degrees but no job prospects worthy of the time and effort they put into getting those degrees. Ruminating over drinks one
Apr 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
The reviews on this site are amazing. Why do people persist in telling the story as their review? Professional reviewers do this to attract readership and sell books. Kids are taught in school to talk about a book in terms of plot , character, setting etc. So what is it then that causes so many people to tell the story! As a reader I am curious to hear what it was about a book that interested readers. Seldom do I ever get that. In the case of this particular book, I got the usual tell the story ...more
J. Kent Messum
Apr 23, 2015 rated it liked it
'The Professionals' is one of those books that gets you thinking... and then you start thinking about how many other people could be thinking exactly what you're thinking...

And what I was thinking was just how much I sympathized with the protagonists and their criminal activities in this book. Kidnapping wealthy 'soft targets' (those responsible for ruining middle class lives because of greed) and ransoming them back to their rich families? My God, a few years ago during the economic collapse I
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Four college graduates - Pender, Marie, Sawyer, and Mouse - are unable to secure good-paying jobs and form a kidnapping ring. Their plan is to pull off a slew of abductions, pile up a lot of ransom money, and retire to the Maldives. For each job the kidnappers choose a wealthy family man, ask for $60,000 (an amount they consider easily affordable), and make dire threats about informing the cops.

As the book opens, the plan has been working perfectly. The gang has staged jobs across the country a
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent premise & pretty well done throughout. The book was well titled, too. Some of the reality was lost to TV moments as the train wreck headed for its inevitable conclusion, but it wasn't too awful. The motivations & characters were all great & saved the story. I could really see 4 college kids doing something like that. Their stupid choice of degrees & sense of entitlement is so typical today. It was inevitable they'd hit a target that was tougher than they expected.

(I don
Steve Weddle
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of those rare accomplishments -- a believable thriller.
Totally engaging. Fast-paced. Intimately focused with characters you care about.
Fantastic. Highly recommended. Owen Laukkanen is the real deal, folks.

At a bar with my agent and she wouldn't shut up about this book. Which made me unhappy. "Talk about my book, crazy lady," I thought. In fact, it's rather possible I mouthed that to her. But the more she talked about this book from Owen Laukkanen, the more I wanted to hear. The
Maureen DeLuca
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was a fun read for me. A solid 3-3.5 stars and I made it a 4 star read for the 'what if' factor. You have 4 young kids/adults- finding it hard to find good paying jobs- all sitting around the table-they wonder - What if we kidnap someone- for around $60,000? Easy money- with no intentions of hurting anyone- just in and out- fast and easy- done deal. So, they do it. And then again. And then again. Then one day- they kidnap the wrong person- and something goes sideways. Now the hunt for ...more
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Four college friends joke about kidnapping rich people as a way of making a living in todays bad job market. For 2 years it works. They are not greedy, they don't hurt their victims and none of their victims call the police later because of a warning "We'll come after your family." Until one man decides that they can't do that to him. After he is released he calls the police. Enter Kirk Stephens, an investigator with the BCA who once he starts investigating has a hunch that this was not a one ti ...more
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's graduation time at a certain West coast university... and four recent graduates are pondering their chances at a good job in today's bad economy. Three guys and a gal: Pender, Mouse, Sawyer and Marie. Marie has a degree in history and is trying to avoid working in a coffee shop. Mouse has a degree in computer science, the only one of the group with a chance at bankable work. Pender, a scholarly English major, wants to find some tuition money to stay in school. And Sawyer goes along with the ...more
Jul 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
This is a entertaining and fast read for those who enjoy crime/thriller genre. “The Professionals” is about a group of four friends who graduate from college and find the job market lackluster. What’s a group to do? They decide to start kidnapping wealthy people, ask for low ransom that’s “pocket money” for the wealthy; so most of the ransom’s are in the $60-100 thousand mark. They are doing well until they kidnap a man connected to the mob.

Around the same time, the Local Authorities get wind of
Mackey St
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulous debut thriller! I simply could not put it down. Normally I avoid books that involve the FBI/CIA because, frankly, we all hear about them far too much in the real world. However, The Professionals was so different and unique that it grabbed my attention and did not let it go.

I've read some other reviews and I'm glad I read them afterward because they give too much away. I will not do that to you. Suffice it to say that there are very intriguing criminals and really interesting
Scott Parsons
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, mystery, thriller
I stumbled across this book while browsing displays at the library one day. I had never heard of the author but the jacket blurb sounded interesting. This debut novel by Owen Laukkanen far exceeded my expectations. I will not elaborate on the plot as this is set out well in a review by James Thames here.

Basically four young college graduates are depressed to find a job market where there is no demand for their talents. Over a drink one night someone jokes that they should take up bank robbing. A
Marty Fried
Very good first introduction to a new series. The bad guys kind of stole the show, I think. They were a group of friends who recently graduated college, and weren't happy with their job prospects. Some of them chose badly in picking degrees that weren't very profitable and needed someone other than themselves to blame. Of course, it's always society's fault at that age. So, they felt perfectly justified in choosing a life of crime to make some money that would allow them to retire in style - qui ...more
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Owen Laukkanen’s The Professionals accompanied me to work everyday last week, the importance of that being, that when you settle down on your lunchbreak away from the trials and tribulations of the workplace and you just need to escape for a while, you need a book like this. Fast moving, plenty of twists and turns and a genuine lack of clues as to how the story will resolve itself. Should also say that thanks to Laukkanen, there were a couple of late returns back to work whilst reading this one! ...more
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
** This book was provided free-of-charge through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. **

The Professionals is a timely novel taking place within a context which had me drawing comparisons to the Occupy Wall Street movement which swept up North America in the last year. The reader is introduced to four white, middle class, under-employed college graduates who dream up the perfect money-making scheme in a scarce job market: kidnapping.

All goes according to plan until they kidnap the wrong man - - the
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen
Windermere and Stevens series Book #1

From The Book:
Four friends, 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 works like a charm—until they kidnap the wrong man. Now two groups 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. A
Four friends graduate from college during the economic downturn and can't seem to find a job. One of them jokes about kidnapping rich people, asking for a relatively small amount pf ransom for a millionaire, and then releasing the person telling them not to notify the police or they will hurt the family. Then they move to another town in another state and start all over again. It seems to work well for two years until one man decides to inform the police. Kirk Stevens of Minnesota's BCU crime ta ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
This novel was enjoyable in the same way an episodic cable TV show like CSI or Bones usually is. Not the most profound thing I've ever read (you could talk me into thinking it's shallow), but it delivers exactly what it promises it will: a winding, sweeping thriller about a federal investigation.

The premise is interesting on paper, too: young people turning to kidnapping as a way to game a corrupt capitalist system undergoing a downturn. It blurs the lines or morality, but the other way than it'
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was much more impressed with this, the debut effort in this series, than with the second book (which I read first by happenstance ). I rounded to five stars because this was such a well done and engagingly written book.
I actually found myself rooting for the team of criminals, who seemed somehow to be sympathetic characters despite their unlawful behaviors. They simply appeared to slip into deeper and deeper waters without intending to do so.
The teaming up of the FBI agent, Windermere, and t
Apr 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
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
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
This is a thriller that I think is not getting the attention that is deserves. I liked this story right from the first page. The characters are well written and the story is believable. 4 college friends decide to become kidnappers when they are faced with the harsh job market and piles of student loans. They have developed a great system for not getting caught and do so successfully for 2 years. This is one of those stories where you are not even sure who you are rooting for. One chapter I was ...more
Mike Tueros
Apr 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
So this novel popped up in my Goodreads recommendations section for Mysteries/Thrillers, and if it's any indication of the type of material I should read, I may as well stop right now. The Professionals had a great premise, which is 4 struggling unemployed college graduates deciding to make a run at quick riches by kidnapping wealthy individuals and then holding them for reasonable ransoms ($50-60K). Would have been nice to know their motivations, and what drove them to criminal acts and truly g ...more
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Amazing First Effort

1) This book starts out with a great hook. What do young professionals do, when they can't find a job?

2) As the group turns to a life of crime, I appreciated the writer making their crimes very believable. The group researched the area and potential marks, tracked the personal lives of their marks, asked for small amounts of money and were constantly on the move.

3) The second joy of the book was the combination of the FBI and BCA searching for the young criminals. They were
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Within the thriller genre, I might give this book 4 stars. Four smart but unemployed college graduates turn to kidnapping for money. They choose targets wisely and ask for small ransoms they know their victims can afford. The plan works for 2 years until they target the wrong man and their carefully built house of cards begins to crumble. Though the four are somewhat stereotypical - the brains, the brawn, the computer geek, and the girl - this group would normally be the good guys so it's a nice ...more
Betsy Whitehead
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I found this book hard to put down! It was an easy read, but not just a fluff read. The biggest surprise to me was that the main characters did not end up being the MAIN characters!

I did not especially enjoy the relationship between FBI agent Windermere and state policeman Stevens. Stevens is a married man and the attraction between him and Windermere, while believable, was distasteful to me. (Call me a prude, but I still feel that marriage vows are sacred. And while he did not cheat on his wif
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Professionals was recommended to me by a friend of mine. I looked for it for several months before finding it in a little bookstore in Delray Beach, Fl. The store is called Murder on the Beach. All the books there are mysteries. I was in heaven and thrilled to find this book. I thought it had an interesting plot so I I was anxious to read this debut of Owen Laukkanen. I was blown away by how much I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What would you do for money? What would you do for love? Such a ...more
Ariana Fae
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
THE PROFESSIONALS is a tale about how a s@#t storm can go from bad to major disaster. Owen Laukkanen crafted a fast paced suspenseful novel about four friends who turn to crime out of desperation over their bleak job prospects. It’s also about how one bad decision or action changes their lives. I will admit I couldn’t decide who to root for, the kidnappers or the police and FBI agents, so I emerged myself in the story and let unfold wondering how it would turn out. Laukkanen did good job with ch ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
What do 4 recent college graduates do when they can't find jobs? They become professional kidnappers! Pender, Mouse, Sawyer, and Marie become "The Professionals" - perfecting their kidnapping skills with each job they accomplish. Unfortunately their luck runs out when they kidnap the wrong man, who turns them in to law enforcement, and then it turns even worse when they end up killing one of their victims who is affiliated with the mob.

Stevens and Windermere find themselves on the case and hot
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: debut-novels
If you and your pals ever thought of swapping your "normal" life for a life of crime, here's a thriller that will get you thinking that maybe a normal life is O.K. Just as it looks like you might get away with it and go somewhere warm with great beaches to live out your days you mess with the wrong person and the only place you're headed is jail or six feet under. So it goes for the unemployed college educated foursome who get this tale rolling with a series of carefully executed and successful ...more
Elizabeth A.
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
They all had degrees, and degrees were supposed to pave the way to careers. They hadn’t, and it was time for another solution. – Arthur Pender

Of course, for most people that other solution would be something like getting a second job to make ends meet or going back to school to pursue a more viable area of study. Not so for friends and recent college grads Pender, Marie, Sawyer, and Mouse.

Fueled by frustration and righteous indignation they instead turn to kidnapping wealthy businessmen, and wha
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Owen Laukkanen's debut thriller, THE PROFESSIONALS, was published by G.P. Putnam's Sons in spring 2012. Its sequel, CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE, will hit stores on March 21, 2013.

An alumnus of the University of British Columbia's Creative Writing BFA program, Laukkanen spent three years in the world of professional poker, traveling to high-stakes tournaments across the globe as a writer for www.PokerList
More about Owen Laukkanen

Other books in the series

Stevens & Windermere (6 books)
  • Criminal Enterprise (Stevens & Windermere, #2)
  • Kill Fee (Stevens & Windermere, #3)
  • The Stolen Ones (Stevens & Windermere, #4)
  • The Watcher in the Wall (Stevens & Windermere, #5)
  • The Forgotten Girls (Stevens & Windermere, #6)

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“If we take the president of GM, they'll make us pay to give him back." (said by a kidnapper)” 0 likes
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