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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars you need a book like this. Fast moving
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...
Published 3 months ago by Raven

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1.0 out of 5 stars Far too long.
The story starts well but quickly becomes implausible. It is far too long and moves from one unbelievable scene to the next. Four so-called college friends outwit the mob and the police across the States getting out of one impossible situation after another. I quickly lost the will to read any more. I finally finished the book out of a sense of duty rather than...
Published 3 months ago by Andrew Jones


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars you need a book like this. Fast moving, 17 July 2014
By 
Raven (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Professionals (Paperback)
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!

The absolute stand out feature of this book for me, was the incredibly control of pace and plot that Laukkanen produces. I loved the initial premise of the story, that one career choice when you leave college with no hope of full time employment is to band together with a group of mates and just kidnap people. Don’t ask for huge ransoms. Don’t hurt them. Everyone’s a winner. But the best laid plans can always go awry and after kidnapping the wrong man our four amigos embark on a flight from justice after a particularly foolhardy act. Pursued by a dogged law enforcement officer working out of Minnesota, Kirk Stevens, and a ballsy FBI agent, Carla Windermere, the foolish foursome encounter numerous scrapes, violence and separation along the way, as well as picking up another stray soul to add to their number, and causing the dissolution of a relationship whose ferocity of passion would put Romeo and Juliet to shame. As the fugitives flee, drawing on their reserve of false identities, but troubled by their depleting funds, they are forced into another kidnap, and a bid to release one of their number from custody resulting in a tense, violent, and almost poignant conclusion. The plotting is almost seamless throughout, transporting the reader effortlessly from state to state, in a real game of cat and mouse, as the net closes on the kidnappers. Balanced perfectly between the increasing desperate measures adopted by the fugitives, and the mostly calm and controlled investigation by the law enforcement agencies, evinced by Laukkanen’s inclusions of FBI investigative procedures and practices, the book races to its conclusion at a breakneck speed, which does make it incredibly difficult to put down.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characterisation of the kidnappers, Arthur, Marie, Mouse and Sawyer, and the pivoting relationships between them, as the peril increased and the pressure really starts to rain down on them. I found the relationship between Arthur and Marie particularly touching and a wee bit heartbreaking (even for an old cynic like me) as you will discover for yourselves when you read it. I also enjoyed the banter and good natured joshing that existed between them, and the appearance of an almost sibling- like relationship particularly between Mouse and Sawyer. However, I was altogether less convinced about the police protagonists, and the hackneyed attempt at producing some kind of sexual tension between them, that felt altogether a bit forced. Also the sporadic interactions between Stevens and his wife, were all a bit chocolate box sweet and slightly nauseating. Really, in the light of how long he was actually away from home, this proved a bit of an unnecessary diversion to the intensity of pace that Laukkanen was building overall in the increasing pace and excitement of the investigation. All in all though, a pretty satisfying thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat, if not entirely perfect in the balance of the realisation of the characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A professional job, 2 Aug 2014
By 
This review is from: The Professionals (Paperback)
Pender, Sawyer, Mouse and Marie are a group of pals who have all the smarts you need to get on in life. The trouble they’re having is that they can’t – the jobs aren’t there in recession-hit Michigan, not for them, anyway.

So quite sensibly they decide that hatching a plot to kidnap millionaires and hold them for ransom cash will get them the standard of living they feel they’re, sort of, entitled to. OK, it’s criminal, but they agree on a few basic principles; no physical stuff, no demanding too much (they only want 60 grand a time), keep the whole operation slick and worthy of their brains.

It’s all going well, until suddenly it isn’t and they find out they’ve crossed a right villain. Enter the FBI in the form of sexy Agent Carla Windermere to help cop Kirk Stevens find out what the hell is going on, and clear up the mess the money-hungry kids have got themselves into.

Much like the scrapes Britain’s own Professionals Bodie and Doyle got into in the 70s, this is a rolling barrel of fun, tension and sparkling character-led action from start to finish. Not bad for a starter, Mr Laukkanen.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Get the Job Done, 17 Sep 2014
By 
This review is from: The Professionals (Paperback)
The professional criminal is the type of person who gets in, does the job and then gets out again. Sounds like the perfect way to stay undetected as a lifelong miscreant, but does not sound like the most exciting narrative for a story. Instead, take a bunch of young kidnappers who are drunk on their own success, whose racket goes wrong one day when they pick up the wrong mark. Watching their lives spiral out of control would be a much more thrilling read. A read just like Owen Laukkanen’s ‘The Professionals’.

Pender, Sawyer, Marie and Mouse are four recent graduates finding it hard to get a job in the current harsh working climate. Like any sensible person with a degree they decide to avoid the job centre and set out creating a kidnapping ring instead. And they are good. Two years of successful jobs never asking for too much has made them consider themselves as professionals, but what does a professional do when a job goes wrong? According to Laukkanen, they let things fall apart quickly.

‘The Professionals’ is a surprising read in more than one way. Not only is it a thriller that is actually thrilling, but it also has a couple of cops who are good at their jobs at the centre. The story follows the gang of four kidnappers, but also Agents Stevens and Windermere, a local agent and an FBI agent on the case. It then throws in the point of view of a shady gang who have their eyes on our antiheroes for their own reasons. By flipping between the chased and chasers, Laukkanen creates a vibrant story.

John Sandford ‘Prey’ novels have done this successfully for years and it is good to see that this author praises Laukkanen’s work at the start of the book. There is the same sense here of the cops closing in bit by bit that makes the Lucas Davenport novels, as written by Sandford, so electric. Laukkanen throws in a third criminal element that only adds to the mix, who will find the kidnapping gang first, or will they escape?

There is an intelligence to ‘The Professionals’ that is weaved within the way that the narrative plays out. Laukkanen does not grace any of the characters with a genius IQ, but they are all capable of making believable decisions. The best characters are Agents Stevens and Windermere who are on the hunt for Pender and co. The way that the case unfolds in front of them is very believable; a combination of dogged police work, trusting your instincts and blind luck.

There is also a lot of fun just reading about the unravelling of the kidnapping gang. They start off as cool customers, but everything soon falls apart around them as they become desperate. The one misgiving is perhaps there is not enough cold professionalism from them to begin with. The book is essentially about their disintegration, but it is hard to believe they were any good at kidnapping for two years is they implode so impressively.

‘The Professionals’ is a great crime thriller that is full of action and tension. However, it stands out from other books in the genre by Laukkanen’s exploration of what makes a professional. The kidnappers believe that they are, but events suggest they are not. The police never claim to be, but they go about their duty in a way that achieves results. Intelligent and action packed. Original review on bookbag.co.uk
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like crime fiction, put Owen Laukkanen on your "must-read" list, 18 Aug 2012
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Four college graduates, faced with a dearth of job prospects, decide to turn to crime as a career. The plot follows their spiralling descent into a world of increasingly realistic and violent criminal activity for which they are ill-prepared as they come up against both hardnosed professional criminals and a determined law enforcement. The various strands, viewpoints, approaches and philosophies are skilfully tied together and the story remains gripping to the end.

There's not much that's new in crime fiction. Plots tend to share similar themes. The police are either intellectual or brutal, the criminals (no matter how clever) are inevitably flawed and so on. Most established authors deliver consistent and predictable plots with familiar characters. Thus it makes an unexpected and exciting change to discover a new writer whose debut novel has a plausible, tightly wound, unconventional plot that is both believable and consistent from beginning to end. The characters are real and likeable and the outcome is suitably realistic - more cerebral than the traditional triumph of good over evil.

If you like crime fiction, put Owen Laukkanen on your "must-read" list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting debut, 15 May 2012
Four recent graduates, who remain unemployed, commit a number of kidnappings with limited violence and modest financial demands. They are quite successful as all victims and their families play along with the instruction that details of the kidnappings not be revealed. And then it all goes wrong as one of the targets has mafia connections and won't play along without a fight. Eventually, an FBI agent and a state policeman work out what is going on and become involved.

There is a lot of even-paced action here, making it easy to turn the pages. You have to stretch the imagination a number of times, but there is nothing overly silly in the novel. In fact, the reader is keen to see how it will all play out and whether the kidnappers can remain almost likeable despite the setback introduced into the story. This is not a complex novel, however, and Laukkanen could have done a lot better with his characterisations. I would also have liked to see a couple of twists or turns - then again, I am not sure they lend themselves well to novels about kidnappings.

The book is pretty well-written, although I thought the author could have used more prepositions - perhaps this was just American writing though. No typo or formatting issues in the Kindle version.

As a debut this is a reasonably impressive effort; it is not an outstanding novel, but the story does keep the reader engaged from the outset.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I'd recommend it as a good holiday read and will be ..., 25 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Professionals (Paperback)
Well written and pacey, yes the plot stretches credibility in places, but that's true of just about every thriller I've read. I'd recommend it as a good holiday read and will be checking out Owen Laukkanen's other book. It would make a good film and I'm sure that was in the author's mind when he wrote it, compared with the appallingly dreadful 'When I go to Sleep', which has now been made into a film starring Nicole Kidman, this is a work of literary genius!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Far too long., 26 July 2014
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The story starts well but quickly becomes implausible. It is far too long and moves from one unbelievable scene to the next. Four so-called college friends outwit the mob and the police across the States getting out of one impossible situation after another. I quickly lost the will to read any more. I finally finished the book out of a sense of duty rather than enjoyment.

Don't waste your time. Read something worthwhile instead.
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1.0 out of 5 stars To think: this guy has got an agent, a publisher!, 31 July 2014
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Contrived, boring and, dare I say it, unprofessional, this book goes thru it's empty paces. Not a single character is the least believable. Toward the end, I was jumping graphs, then pages. and the ending is completely absurd.
Save your time! Save your money! Buy a Lee Child book. Go water skiing. Clean house. Save yourself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book will take over your life, 5 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Professionals (Paperback)
Wow! Talk about a roller coaster! This book is utterly compelling. Simple plot. A rookie kidnapping gang is doing fine till they kidnap the wrong guy, then suddenly both the FBI and organised criminals are after them. You'll get caught up in the chase, and will not want to put the book down until you're finished. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The fine art of kidnapping..., 19 July 2013
By 
janebbooks (Jacksonville, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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 sees little chance of employment beyond the local coffee shop. Mouse has a degree in computer science, the only grad 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 crowd...

Four twenty-somethings put their heads together and decide to do a few kidnappings. Clean white-collar crime... abduct a business man with a hefty bank account on his way home...and have his wife deliver in used twenty bills a modest ransom of $60,000. Clever. And safe for two years until they abduct the wrong guy...a guy married to a woman with organized crime connections. And suddenly they, our youthful kidnappers, are on the run from the cops and the mob.

State investigator Kirk Stevens has a dream job. Not much crime in Minnesota...plenty of time with the wife and kids. Until he's drawn into investigating a local businessman's kidnapping complaint. As the clues lead to other similar crimes in other states, he joins with hotshot FBI agent Carla Windermere crisscrossing the USA in search of students turned abductors. And following the law...is a mobster hit man or two bent on revenge.

Owen Laukkanen's debut novel THE PROFESSIONALS is also the first Stevens and Windermere thriller. Before you start this exciting read, make sure you have the second Stevens/Windermere Criminal Enterprise on hand.

And don't take these books on vacation. You won't see a sandy beach or mountainside full of green trees for several days...and there goes your week!

Highly recommended.
Jane
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The Professionals
The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen (Paperback - 3 July 2014)
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