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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The plot is reminiscent of, well, the author's first novel: a normal sort of person is lured into a life of crime almost by chance and gets more and more corrupted by the experience as he goes along. To be honest, I was a little surprised: was this going to be Mr. Laukkanen's premise in every novel? (Could we expect, for example, an art teacher to become an art thief in his next one?) Still, the writing was so entertaining -- and Mr. Ballerini so superb as the reader, as usual -- that I didn't really mind. In the end, I found it to be even better than The Professionals. The line between the good and the bad guys is clearer here. The personal 'qualities' that make the main character keep on robbing banks more believable (although there are plenty of improbable coincidences but, again, I did not mind). Tons of surprises. Tons of fun.
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.