John Sandford reviews The Professionals
John Sandford is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of twenty-two Prey novels and eleven other works of fiction, most recently the Virgil Flowers novel Shock Wave. He lives in Minnesota.
The list of things that can foul up a perfectly good thriller is a long one. Sometimes they are so prevalent that if you go into a mystery bookstore and ask the owner, “Anything new and good?,” he may have twenty new books around the counter, and maybe he’ll hand you one.
Some of the other writers will learn the trade, eventually, but this one, this one’s worth reading right now.
Owen Laukkanen is a new guy, but you’d never know it. The Professionals is one of those books that you’ll tend to read in one sitting. The basic story involves a crew of professional kidnappers who have refined their technique to an art form--until they stumble, and art turns to blood. Laukkanen writes so well that his prose disappears into the story, and you live it: The Professionals is full of real people, struggling through extreme circumstances, but nothing that you don’t believe.
Both the good and the bad guys come in a variety of flavors, and his cops combine wit and charm--in fact, his pairing of FBI agent Carla Windermere and BCA agent Kirk Stevens is so good and full of possibilities that I can’t wait to see what they do next.
The Professionals is a real, down-and-dirty thriller: the story never, ever slows down.
If I were you, I’d get started now.
Photo of John Sandford © John Earle
“Fasten your seat belts, Owen Laukkanen’s The Professionals is one heck of a wild ride. A first-class thriller by a terrific new voice.”—John Lescroart
“Really terrific – characters that live and breathe, a just-right story, and chills aplenty. Highly recommended." —Lee Child
“Smoothly written, with a slam-bang ending, The Professionals is a brutally beautiful piece of work. Owen Laukkanen takes us straight into the hearts of the bad guys, and what we find there is something very complicated and still very bad. The cops are just as complex as the villains, and Laukkanen nicely captures the personal and sexual tension between Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere as they track down the gang: this is a pairing that will wear well.” —John Sandford
“A coiling plot, insightful characters, and a tale fraught with danger. What more could any thriller reader want? The Professionals has it all. It’s top-notch entertainment.” —Steve Berry
“A page-turning blend of classic suspense fiction and chillingly postmodern amorality. Ingenious plotting, perfect-pitch characterization and evocative sense of place combine to create an impressive debut.” —Jonathan Kellerman
“A spectacular debut novel written with intelligence, toughness, and heart. Owen Laukkanen is a writer to watch.” —Thomas Perry, author of The Butcher's Boy and The Informant
“The Professionals is a high-octane adrenaline and gunpowder-fueled rocket ride across the country from Seattle to Miami to Detroit and points in-between. What is remarkable about Owen Laukkanen’s debut is how skillfully he makes the reader care for his characters on both sides of the law. An excellent first novel!” —C. J. Box
“The Professionals grips you on page one and doesn’t let go until the last, satisfying page. Laukkanen provides plenty of twists along the way while developing a well-juggled array of complex and evolving characters. Highly recommended.” —Alafair Burke, author of Long Gone