Book: The Professionals
Series: Stevens and Windermere #1
Author: Owen Laukkanen
Review: Four college friends are pondering their job prospects in a tough market when one suggests they turn to kidnapping. What starts off as a joke turns into a full time career as they travel the country kidnapping wealthy men for ransom. Things are going smoothly until they kidnap a man in Detroit whose wife has mob ties. When they attempt to drop off the hostage and unexpected violence takes place, the FBI and mob are both after them.
'The Professionals' is a fast paced thrilled told from alternating perspectives. The primary narrator is Arthur Pender, the 28 year old ringleader of the group. From the police side, we are with Agent Stevens, a middle aged state policeman (assisting the young and beautiful FBI agent Windermere). From the organized crime side, mob man D'Antonio. The chapters are extremely short which keeps the pace moving fast and the story moves to several areas around the country. I was impressed by Laukkanen's ability to make me feel sympathetic toward the kidnappers for almost the entire book, even as they became more violent. I was impressed by Arthur and his team's ability to evade authorities (and the mob), especially as everything kept falling down around them. I kept thinking they would try to change their appearances at some point (hair cuts, dye, etc) but that never happened. I will avoid spoilers, but I was still secretly routing for Arthur at the end. My only issue with this book was the partnership between Stevens and Windermere. They didn't have much synergy and their flirting was a little disturbing and felt out of place (he's a happily married father, she's young and in a failing relationship). This is the first book of a series with these agents so hopefully the flirting is gone in the next book.
Overall-super fun, fast paced thriller. I will definitely read the next one on this series.