Two books in, this is rapidly becoming one of my favorite new series. In their first outing, The Professionals, Minnesota BCA agent Kirk Stevens, and FBI agent Carla Windermere joined forces to track down an especially clever band of kidnappers. They then returned to their respective law enforcement agencies, expecting never to work together again. Happily, though, at least for the reader, the two are teamed up again in a case that strikes particularly close to home for Stevens.
Carter Tomlin, a Minneapolis accounting executive, has recently been laid off from his well-paying job because of the firm's declining fortunes. The loss of the job is devastating for Tomlin who is highly leveraged with a very expensive house and a wife and children who have become accustomed to a lavish lifestyle. He's unable to find another job that pays nearly as well and his world is about to come crashing down around him.
Tomlin's image of himself as a man, a husband and a father are also under assault. He's desperate to prove that he can continue to provide for his family as he believes a man should. At wit's end, he impulsively robs a bank. The take is small--certainly not worth the risk--but it plants a seed in Tomlin's mind and he becomes convinced that done carefully and properly, bank robbing could become his new profession. It turns out that he's pretty good a this and, surprisingly, he discovers that he enjoys it. The rush he gets is fantastic, and before long, robbing banks becomes his new drug of choice as well as a means of supporting his family.
Naturally, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are not as enthused. Carla Windermere and her partner are assigned to the case, but it's not a happy professional marriage. The partner is an insecure jerk who is about half as bright as Windermere. He's arrogant; he's determined to be in charge; he's usually wrong, and he's not about to be overshadowed by a female partner. Windermere is hugely frustrated and she yearns for the brief period of time when she was working with Kirk Stevens.
Meanwhile, Stevens, whose teenage daughter plays on a basketball team coached by Carter Tomlin, is coming at the investigation from an entirely different angle and as the action ramps up, his investigation begins to parallel that of Windermere and the two of them may have the opportunity to renew their partnership once again.
This is another great read from Owen Laukkanen. The action is non-stop and the characters, even the minor ones, are all well-drawn and very compelling. Additionally, Laukkanen expertly develops the plot in a way that sucks the reader in and keeps him or her turning the pages as rapidly as possible. One would think that there would be only so many opportunities for BCA and FBI agents to be working together in Minnesota, but one can only hope that Laukkanen can keep inventing them.