What do recent college graduates with a more student loan debt than job prospects do when the economy collapses and the best prospects are brewing coffee? If they’re Arthur Pender and his friends Sawyer, Mouse, and Marie, they do a little economic redistribution. They become professional kidnappers who avoid detection by hitting bank executives and the like with plenty of money, asking for low level ransoms so they can get paid and get out. They’re careful, they plan, they have a system, and it works.
Until two things happen, Stevens, a Minnesota state police officer in the BSA, investigates one of their kidnappings and has the imagination to see that they are not opportunists, but professionals and goes to the FBI. He joins with Windermere, a fast-moving FBI agent who sees this could be a career-making case. The other thing, they kidnap the wrong guy, the husband of a woman who has long, strong mafia ties across the country.
So, we have three groups of professionals, the kidnappers, the mafia hit men sent to track them led by a guy names D’Antonio, and law enforcement, Stevens and Windermere. And we have suspense that never lets up, not from the very beginning. This is a clear-time-on-your-calendar book.
I could not put this book down. This is a thriller and in the best thriller sense, the writing is economical, it facilitates the story and never asks you to pause and admire itself. We know what Stevens, Pender, and D’Antonio are thinking. This gives it a complexity that puts us subtly on the side of both the kidnappers and the police. We understand Pender. He doesn’t think he’s a bad guy, he doesn’t want anybody to get hurt, but he will protect his crew.
The Stevens and Windermere relationship is interesting and will be sure to develop more because this is the first in a series that now includes four additional volumes, including Criminal Enterprise, Kill Fee, The Stolen Ones, and The Watcher in the Wall.