Four friends,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 works like a charm - until they kidnap the wrong man.
Now two groups are after them - the law, in the form of veteran state investigator Kirk Stevens and hotshot young FBI agent Caria Windermere, and an organized crime outfit looking for payback. As they criss-cross the country in a series of increasingly explosive confrontations, each of them is ultimately forced to recognize the truth: the real professionals, cop or criminal, are those who are willing to sacrifice everything...
I received this book from the publishers for an open and honest review.
This debut from Owen Laukkanen was first published in the US in 2012 receiving rave reviews from critics and readers alike. When the lovely Alison from Atlantic Books sent me this novel to review she promised me I was in for a thrilling read and this is definitely the word I would use to sum up Laukkanen's writing which will leave you gripped from start to finish.
The story starts in the thick of action with the kidnapping of Martin Warner of 15 Linden Park.
' "Whoever you're looking for, I'm not the guy."
Warner felt like he was going to be sick.
"Your kids are fine, Martin. Sit back and relax." '
We soon discover the group behind the kidnappings - four friends struggling to find work in the depths of the recession. What started as a joke soon becomes real life for the friends when they begin kidnapping rich business men and holding them to ransom. This plan seems to be working for the group until the day they choose the wrong guy - Beneteau.
'He turned his face in Sawyer's direction and flashed a bloody grin. You just made the biggest mistake of your lives.'
Without realizing their mistake, the group kidnap the husband of Patricia Benetau who is connected to the mob. Very quickly the strategy that has worked for two years goes horribly wrong and the friends are forced to go on the run, not only from the organized crime outfit but also from Stevens and Windermere two likeable FBI agents assigned to the case.
What ensues is a fast paced thrill ride of car chases and shoot outs as the friends try to escape their ill fate. The story keeps you gripped as characters are caught and injured and new characters are introduced. Laukken develops the action quickly through the use of short chapters which will keep you captivated throughout. As the story develops, more and more problems arise for the group of friends leaving the reader wondering if they will ever make it out alive.
'Stay calm, he told himself. Be professional. Get through this.'
The FBI agents Stevens and Windermere grow closer as the investigation deepens. He is happily married and she has a boyfriend, however this does not stop them from sharing some moments of cringe worthy flirting amidst the chaos around them. Unfortunately it is this unnecessary subplot that knocked off the 5th star when rating this novel. I can see why Laukkanen decided to include it as I predict the adventures of these two FBI agents will become a crime series however this small part of the story did not work for me.
This novel has one of the most thrilling endings I have read in a long time and was almost like watching the final scenes of a blockbuster movie. This is an excellent debut novel that all crime fiction lovers will not want to miss!
'They were now in the middle of something huge, something disastrous.
What a rotten world we have created.'