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The Professionals (Stevens and Windermere Series #1)

The Professionals (Stevens and Windermere Series #1)

3.8 17
by Owen Laukkanen

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A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Selection for 2012

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


A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Selection for 2012

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Laukkanen’s clever debut, the first in a new crime thriller series, compares favorably to Scott Smith’s classic caper novel, A Simple Plan. Four college friends, who possess varying skills but are unable to find work in today’s grim job market, decide to make money by kidnapping bankers and other extremely wealthy men around the U.S. The gang stays below law enforcement’s radar by demanding ransoms so modest that the unharmed victims are inclined not to report their abduction. The group’s luck runs out on a Michigan job when their target turns out to be connected to the Mafia, a mistake that starts an avalanche of violence. Their crime spree leads to the involvement of FBI agent Carla Windermere and Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens, who race the mob to catch the kidnappers. A few developments strain credulity, but the story’s breakneck pace will carry most readers along. Author tour. Agent: Stacia Decker, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Four friends, recent graduates from the University of Washington, are caught in a terrible job market. One of them jokes that they should go into kidnapping, and soon they develop a scheme to kidnap wealthy businessmen for relatively small ransoms ($60,000 to $100,000) so that the victims can be convinced not to report their kidnapping to the police. Their plan succeeds for two years until the friends kidnap the wrong man; his wife happens to be connected to the mob. Soon hot on their tails are not only the mob but also Minneapolis police investigator Kirk Stevens and FBI agent Carla Windermere. VERDICT This well-written debut crime novel features a chillingly postmodern amorality and well-developed protagonists on both sides of the law who will have readers rooting for them. Thriller fans will be chomping at the bit for the next Stevens and Windermere novel in the planned series.—Vicki L. Gregory, Univ. of South Florida Sch. of Information, Tampa
Kirkus Reviews
A fast-moving debut thriller with enough twists to fill a pretzel bag. They aren't bad people. It's just that times are tough in Michigan, and none of these young friends can find a decent job. So Pender, Sawyer, Mouse and Marie decide that kidnapping a few rich people for quick, modest ransoms would solve their financial woes and let them live out their lives on a beach in the Maldives. No one gets hurt, no one gets greedy and they all stay professional. They just need to grab some rich businessmen, make a few quiet deals and walk away with a $60,000 payoff each time. One victim even complains he's worth way more, but $60K is enough for them. The plan works beautifully until they mess with the wrong guy and their great retirement plan goes insanely haywire. Meanwhile, state cop Kirk Stevens and FBI agent Carla Windermere team up to investigate the crimes. The characters are as much fun as the plot. Stevens is happily married and faithful, and Windermere has a beau, yet when they work together the sexual tension between them is obvious. They are the real pros in this case as they try to nail the criminals and stop the mayhem that spirals out of control. And for all the danger, Stevens and Windermere tell each other they're having so much fun they wish the case would go on forever. The kidnappers, however, enjoy themselves somewhat less while they learn that some things may be more important than money--like staying alive, for example. Let's hope Laukkanen writes more thrillers like this one.
From the Publisher
“Really terrific—characters that live and breathe, and chills aplenty.”--Lee Child

“Fasten your seat belts, Owen Laukkanen’s The Professionals is one heck of a wild ride.”--John Lescroart

“Ingenious.”--Jonathan Kellerman

“Smoothly written, with a slam-bang ending.”--John Sandford

“A coiling plot, insightful characters, and a tale fraught with dangers…top-notch.”--Steve Berry

“A high-octane, adrenaline- and gunpowder-fueled rocket ride.”--C. J. Box

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Stevens and Windermere Series , #1
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“Really terrific—characters that live and breathe, and chills aplenty.”—Lee Child “Fasten your seat belts, Owen Laukkanen’s The Professionals is one heck of a wild ride.”—John Lescroart

“Ingenious.”—Jonathan Kellerman

“Smoothly written, with a slam-bang ending.”—John Sandford

“A coiling plot, insightful characters, and a tale fraught with dangers…top-notch.”—Steve Berry

“A high-octane, adrenaline- and gunpowder-fueled rocket ride.”—C. J. Box

Meet the Author

After graduation, OWEN LAUKKANEN answered a craigslist ad, and for the next three years he was the tournament reporter for a poker website, traveling from the luxurious casinos of Monaco and Macao to the sketchiest cardrooms of Atlantic City. A resident of Toronto, he is now at work on a second book featuring Stevens and Windermere. You can learn more about Owen Laukkanen at www.owenlaukkanen.com.

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The Professionals 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
wordbyword More than 1 year ago
Slow start. First 30 pages very slow and I had thoughts of putting it down. But then it took off like a rocket. I rooted for the bad guys and I liked the interplay with the male and female cops. The FBI character dialogue was funny at times. Excellent. Buy it. I'll be waiting for his next book.
SteveMacqueen More than 1 year ago
I'm an avid reader who is frequently looking for a young new author to add to my favorites such as Scott Sigler and Joe Hill. When I saw this book at Barnes & Noble I was instant intrigued by its plot summary. I enjoyed the fast pace, the character development and the constant shift of storytelling through three angles of 'professionals.' Because of this I was unable to put this book down. Unfortunately after completing the 370 pages I am left with mixed feelings. I suppose it was caused by a review I read prior to reading the book. The review gave the book 5 stars and the reviewer was pleasantly surprised by the ending. My expectations increased and throughout reading I was constantly wondering how the book would end. Now that it is over, I have to say I am disappointed. I give 90% of the book a 4 out of 5 and the remaining 10% of the book a 2 out of 5.
foothillgal More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books where I found myself rooting for the "bad" guys. Even though the four young adults in this novel were breaking the law by kidnapping people, they did it in such a humane way that it didn't seem like such a horrendous crime. The characters were so richly drawn that I couldn't help but have an affinity for them. Once they went too far and had both law enforcement and the mob after them, I still wanted them to escape because of the rapport I felt for them. This was an excellent first novel and I look forward to reading more by Mr. Laukkanen.
Twink More than 1 year ago
There's been lots of buzz surrounding Owen Laukkanen's debut novel The Professionals, so I was really eager to read it. Oh boy, seriously - run, don't walk to grab your copy - it releases today. Yes, it's that good. Crime, suspense and thriller fans, you're going to love it. (So did Lee Child, John Sandford and more!) A four person kidnap crew has been touring the country, snatching affluent men and holding them for ransom. Why? Well, it's the economy. Their university degrees are practically worthless. What started out as an offhand comment has mushroomed. Now they're working the Pender Method - nothing too big - sixty grand - enough that the family can easily raise the funds and won't call the cops. In and out clean - very professional. A few more and they can retire to somewhere nice and warm. Next stop - Minnesota. Minnesota - where Kirk Stevens has worked for the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) for ten years. "He caught his reflection in the patrol car';s rear window as he waited and he stared at it a moment, a forty-three-year-old career cop with thinning hair and a paunch, his tired eyes betraying a mounting fatigue....Another botched robbery, Stevens thought to himself. Another day in the glamorous life." Just another professional on the job. Until the crew hits the wrong man in Minnesota - a husband with connections to organized crime. And his wife sends in her professionals to track down the crew. Stevens is now on the case and it balloons. Then the FBI sends in Agent Carla Windermere and Stevens is called up to help these professionals. And where things go from there is a non stop, action packed, read 'til your eyeballs hurt ride. (Really, I had the day off, couldn't put it down and finished it by that night) You would never guess that this is a first novel. You'd think that Laukkanen is a professional. The writing is smooth, the dialogue flows so easily and the characters hooked me from the beginning. The plot? Well, the plot is just freakin' fantastic. The kidnappers owned this book, but Laukkanen has plans for another book featuring Stevens and Windermere. I look forward to seeing what he has in store for book two!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, I can't wait to read the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first novel from this writer & it is wonderful. This a contemporary story relating to the economic impact on young people today in obtaining a job. A group of these graduates concoct a bizarre plan to kidnap wealthy people to extract ransom because of their frustration looking for work. They then plan to make enough money to eventually move to the islands. It is exciting to the inevitable sad ending. I have read this writer's next novel which is even better!! I would certainly recommend this for a book club discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
well written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is incredibly funny. The plot is good and keeps you on your feet. This story is about a group of college grads who kidnap people to make a living, until they kidnap the wrong man, whose wife has connections to the... I'm not giving it away.
docham More than 1 year ago
I've read Sandford, Child, Burke, etc., and this young fellow is right up there with the pros. Very interesting plot, but the characters pull you in; you're pulling for both the good guys and the bad guys. I read this one at one sitting. I've only done that with three other books.
BookSakeBlogspot More than 1 year ago
The plan of kidnapping that these friends use is pretty genius, which alone is worth reading the book. Laukkanen has a good insight into the criminal mind, but meshes that with the minds of four everyday friends who never wanted to hurt anyone. These four characters are relatable and believable, and although they are the bad guys featured in the story, I still found myself rooting for all of them. I know what they are doing is wrong, that is clear, but the way that they are written it was easy to feel for them and to hope they met their goals as well. The FBI agent and investigator are both endearing as well. Stevens (the investigator) is living the dream now that he is working with the FBI to chase these guys, but it conflicts with his desire to be home with his wife and children. Adding this internal conflict in the story is something that I think other thrillers often miss. Laukkanen was able to provide the time for the reader to get to know each and every character, not easy to do with so many characters. Even the really bad guys, members of the mob, are shown more closely than I’ve read before. Seeing this story from all of the different angles keeps it interesting throughout. Each time I put the book down I kept saying “I want to know what’s going to happen next” and quickly returned to the story. Whatever Laukkanen writes next, I’ll be reading it. Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was overall unimpressed. Writing itself was descriptive enough but the plot lacked believability and originality. Charcter arcs did not line up and often betrayed even their simplictic origins. This book was a waste of approximately five hours of my life.
WaukeshaPhoenix More than 1 year ago
This book was simply simple. The only reason I read it to the end was out of curiosity to see if it could be consistently amateurish to the very end. It was. The plot line begins well then moves to incredible (meant in the worst way) and then finally get to preposterous. This accompanied by the straight line unimaginative writing of Mr. Laukkanen makes this book a ONE STAR. It reminds me of the review once given by Frasier in the comedic series of the same name "This book can stand next to any other book on you shelf". And that is all it will do for you unless you need a literary laugh..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a lot of hype about this book, but it does not live up to the publicity.