Criminal Enterprise by Owen Laukkanen

I feel like I’ve been giving out too many 4-stars lately, and originally rated this 3-stars, but after writing this, I knew it didn’t deserve that. This is such a good read, maybe something closer to a 5, honestly. I feel strange saying this, but hopefully, I’ve got some more mediocre reads in my near future

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Criminal EnterpriseCriminal Enterprise

by Owen Laukkanen
Hardcover, 406 pg.
Putnam Adult, 2013
Series: Stevens & Windermere, #2

As much as I enjoyed The Professionals, I was unsure I wanted to read a follow-up. How tortured would the contrivances needed to bring these two investigators back together be? I was figuring pretty tortured. Would we be in for another group of criminals allllmost smart enough to get away with it all?

Laukkanen pulled it off, though — by taking pretty much everything about The Professionals and turning it on its head — the criminals aren’t nearly as professional (no pun intended); Stevens and Windermere are kept apart — professionally and personally — for most of the book; the action is all in the St. Paul area, so we see the agents in their home environment, not jet setting all over the country. What’s the same? Criminal Activity is just as gripping, just as tense, moves at the same breakneck speed.

Carla Windermere is languishing at the FBI office, an outsider even two years after the headline-making case she and Stevens cracked together. Whether its due to her race, gender, or personality is hard to say, but she’s not one of the team — and she likes it as much as she hates it. She misses the excitement, the challenge of the higher-profile case.

BCA Agent Kirk Stevens has thrown himself into his family and his work following his heroics from The Professionals. He’s very involved with his daughter and marriage. He’s still doing important work for the state — like cold case murder investigations, providing closure to families still wondering what’s happened to loved ones. He’s nice and safe, just what his wife wants, but it’s driving him crazy. He wants the excitement he got a taste of recently, he wants the sense of fulfillment that he got from stopping an active criminal.

Carter Tomlin, a formerly prosperous accountant is laid off and his debts are mounting — he’s too proud, too self-reliant to look for help, won’t bring himself to sell off possessions, or ask his wife to take a full time job. He’s essentially Minnesota’s answer to Walter White — his pride won’t let him do what he needs to do, so in a moment of panicked inspiration he holds up a bank. Not only does he get some easy money to hold off the debt collectors, he comes alive in a way he hadn’t realized he could before. So he commits more and more robberies, the rush building each time.

When the paths of these three discontented people collide, havoc ensues.

If Laukkanen’s third book in this series is half as good, I don’t care how he gets Stevens and Windermere together or what felons they are trying to take down — doesn’t matter, I’m all in.

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4 Stars

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