The new Stevens and Windermere novel from the author of the dazzlingly acclaimed The Professionals - "one of the best debuts of the year" (Mystery Scene). From the outside, Carter Tomlin's life looked perfect: a big house, pretty wife, two kids - a St. Paul success story. But Tomlin has a secret. He's lost his job, the bills are mounting, and that perfect life is hanging by a thread. Desperate, he robs a bank. Then he robs another. As the red flags start to go up, FBI Special Agent Carla Windermere homes in on Tomlin from one direction, while Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens picks up the trail from another. The two cops haven't talked since their first case together, but that's all going to change very quickly. Because Carter Tomlin's decided he likes robbing banks. And it's not because of the money; not anymore. Tomlin has guns and a new taste for violence. And he's not quitting anytime soon.
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I really loved Mr. Laukkanen's first book. I really love this one too. And Mr. Ballerini has now firmly installed himself as my favorite narrator since Frank Muller, which is high praise, indeed. Like the first book, this one is a race down a highway to hell. It does not have the feel of a sequel, though. Carter Tilton, the head of the gang, bears little semblance to Pender, the main crazy in the first book. An accountant who loses his job, and who has a mansion and a family, Tilton gets quickly sucked down into the vortex (I just had to use that trope, I know) of crime, and his crimes rise rapidly in their violence. He starts with little notes to bank tellers, and proceeds to much higher wattage crime in a hurry. His female assistant is just as wacko as he. Her boyfriend drives the getaway car. The team of Kirk Stevens of the Minnesota BPA and Carla Windermere of the FBI is once again charming. They are in dogged pursuit of the criminals, and they both just will not quit. The sexual tension is everywhere: between the two of them, between Tilton and his wife Becca, between Tilton and Tricia, his accomplice. You can cast the movie in your mind with favorite actors. I would absolutely love Cate Blanchett in the Tricia role. As you can see, I had a lot of fun with this book. Laukkanen writes very well, with authority, with an informed sense of place that makes you believe he lives in Minneapolis-St. Paul (although in the first book I could have sworn that he lived in Seattle). He puts you in the car and drives you with each turn of events. There is no way that you can put this book down, other than to catch your breath. I also love that the editor/publisher allows Mr. Ballerini to read at his own pace: his voice is lustrous, his pacing exactly right, his ability to do precisely what the author wants him to do: all exactly on the money. I have heard a few books in which he was clearly pushed to go too fast, which was something that was done to Mr. Muller, too, on occasion. When you allow these guys to slow down, they show you every nuance of their mighty skills. I would dearly love it if Mr. Ballerini had a career as long as or even longer than that of Mr. Muller, who died in a motorcycle accident when he was in his fifties. A voice this rich, combined with the actorly skills and all the rest: we could be in for one of the most enjoyable audiobook careers imaginable. Listen to this. Trust me. Would I steer you wrong?
- Richard Delman "I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get."
A Criminal Enterpise for the Reader
I have received so many good tips in Richard in San Anselmo, California that I hate to disagree so adamantly with his review of this book. This book is simply dreadful. If it could be given zero stars I would have done that, but fortunately the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini, is so good that he drags it kicking and screaming from a 0 to a 1.
As for the publishers description... it is pretty accurate, so I will not rehash that. The plot starts out reasonably enough but then gets carried to an extreme that is simply no longer logical. Those of you readers who pay attention to details like ballistics, finger prints, etc. will certainly notice that there are some huge issues that are never addressed in the book. Why? I have no idea. Serious and dreadful crimes are committed, and in one case the careful reader will immediately think "why, they are going to recognize her" long before the crime is committed... and yet the crime proceeds completely and totally illogically. Crimes that should be tied together early on are missed because of faulty (read that as NO) police procedures.
If you are one of those Audible readers that keeps track of details, that looks for good character development, requires that the characters in the book (both good guys and bad guys) act at least intelligently and if not intelligently then at least an understandable manner, then you should absolutely pass on this book.
If you love mysteries and thrillers, and look for logical behavior where the good guys move inexorably to a satisfying conclusion (with a few reasonable twists and roadblocks along the way), then again you should pass on this book. It will drive you bonkers.
If you like characters to whom you can relate or even like, then you should pass on this book.
There are just tons of technical errors in this book.
There are a number of errors in grammar, but with the US schools turning out such poor quality students, a tend to forgive these errors as I am delighted when I read a sentence with both a subject and predicate. Thankfully, Owen Laukkanen was educated in Canada.
Why all the errors? I do not know whether this is the fault of the person(s) who proof read the book and simply did not read it in a critical manner and catch the discrepancies before submission, or maybe the editors just felt like they had to publish something that day. If I listed all the errors, it would almost certainly spoil the book, and I don't want to do that. But I will again warn you that if you are one of those detailed type readers who really enjoys mysteries and thrillers, you will find so many distractions that will keep you from simply enjoying this book to its full potential. I call them the "what the hell?" moments and they drive critical readers like me right out of our minds. I will not even mention all the numerous clichés.
Sadly, there are also no likable characters in this book. Windermere from the FBI is just a very unlikable selfish self-involved thoughtless person. She is arrogant to the nth degree. Her police procedurals are terrible. Her personality is such that she antagonizes everybody that she works with including the reader. Her FBI partner was no gem, but frankly, I agreed with much of his assessment of her.
Stevens from the BCA Minnesota is a character added to the book because if he was not added to the book, Windermere could do absolutely nothing because she angers everybody she works with.
At one point, Stevens proceeds to do something so stupid, and so patently illogical (not to mention illegal) that it rates high in my "what the hell?" list. It is just simply contrived. His stupid actions were apparently required for no other reason than to justify his existence in the book and help Windermere with her problem.
Unnecessary, it also will draw Stevens teenaged daughter into the mix eventually endangering her life as well. No, this is not a spoiler, because anyone reading the book will immediately be able to predict what's going to happen. Oh... PS: This author either has no teenage kids or never talks to them. The ones in this novel also behave illogically and their dialog is just not 21st century teenspeak... even if they are from Minnesota.
The climax is just silly. Again I do not want to say too much so as to avoid spoiling this book should you decide to waste a credit, but any of you who have visited the Minneapolis area will immediately just start laughing when you find out where the bad guy finally gets his comeuppance and the descriptions thereof.
Side note: There also seems to be a new trend with some of the younger authors (this guy is about 30) to add (by innuendo if not directly) their political leanings whether liberal or conservative, to the books that they are writing. Little "comments in passing". They also seem to throw in a certain amount of political correctness. Hint to author: Not everyone acts or speaks in a politically correct manner and many don't want to! Bad guys seldom do. I strongly believe that this has no place in literature. Tell the story, and leave out your personal agenda and the other junk.