The Professionals

Written by Owen Laukkanen

Review written by Adam Colclough

Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.

The Professionals
RRP: £7.99
Released: July 3, 2014

Four young graduates trapped in a dead end job market come up with a foolproof plan to make it big — kidnapping people who are likely to pay up without going to the authorities first. For two years the plan works like a dream, then they make the biggest mistake of their lives, kidnapping and then accidentally killing a man with mob connections.

Suddenly they're on the run from the cops and have a price on their head thanks to the dead man's “acquaintances”. All of a sudden the plan that was going to make them rich has turned into one that could lead to them being dead.

Owen Laukkanen's debut novel is a solid action thriller with its roots sunk deep into the anxieties of post-crash America; a place where jobs are scarce and the landscape is littered with the wreckage of the American dream.

His grasp of characterisation is remarkably astute, the four kidnappers and the wealthy but bored young woman they hook up with whilst on the run are brilliantly realised in the way they both mature and disintegrate as their adventure turns into a nightmare. Elements of the story owe a debt to the legend and sordid reality of the short criminal career of Bonnie and Clyde.

Laukkanen also writes convincingly about the law enforcers hunting the kidnappers, a feisty FBI agent and a grizzled state cop, adding tension to their relationship without taking us down the cul-de-sac of cliché.

He handles the plentiful action scenes with a sure touch and keeps his readers on the edge of their seats throughout. More importantly he has a clear understanding of the way in which a good thriller can explore the tensions of its time without bashing the audience over the head with pre-packaged conclusions.

On the strength of this excellent first novel Owen Laukkanen has the potential to become an important new voice in the crime genre.

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