‘The Professionals’ By Owen Laukkenan

I read a lot but normally I don’t post about the fiction I read… (unless it’s financial fiction). However, this book was really enjoyable and I wanted to tell you about it because I think the secret to good fiction is that every sentence compels you to read the next one. Or it should anyway. I think this book does a great job of doing that.

Aaron Hoos

The Professionals by Owen Laukkenan is about a group of young adults (recent college grads who don’t want to enter the workforce) and they kidnap people for ransom. They’re careful, mobile, small time, and don’t ask for a lot of ransom, which helps to ensure that they don’t attract a lot of attention. But in this story, they kidnap the wrong person and things go awry and they’re pursued by gangsters, by state police, and by the FBI.

What makes this story so good is that the characters are believable and complex. And interestingly, the titular professionals are caught in the middle between the protagonists (the police) and the antagonists (the gangsters). Sometimes you’re rooting for the kidnappers and sometimes you aren’t. Not only that, the book does an excellent job of making you feel the helplessness of the main characters; you just don’t know what they’re going to do (or, what you’d do if you were in the same situation).

But the very best aspect of the book is on page 44 of the hardcover copy I read. This, in my opinion, is the most compelling page of the book and an excellent piece of writing.