Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen

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Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: When Agents Windermere and Stevens are sitting in the park together, crime is the furthest thing from their minds, but crime is what they get. The assassination of a local billionaire opens up a dark world of the online ordering of hit men. How can you catch a killer in front of their PC? Join the duo in a fast paced, action crime thriller that will have you wondering what you just ordered online.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: February 2015
Publisher: Corvus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781782396017

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The internet has had one of the most profound effects on humanity since the invention of the printing press. A world full of knowledge is at your fingertips and you can access anything from your home. Want to order food? Easy! How about learning how to make a fake ID? It’s all on the net if you know where to look! Want someone killed by a professional for a reasonable fee? This may be depressingly easier than you think.

After two successful cases together FBI Agent Windermere and State Investigator Stevens may not actually be colleagues, but their mutual respect for one another means they meet up anyway. One such meeting becomes a busman’s holiday as a prestigious billionaire is assassinated near them. The agents are the first on the scene and they are shanghaied into the investigation that soon develops into a nationwide manhunt not just for one person, but an online assassination bureau known as Kill Fee.

All of Owen Laukkanen's output reads at breakneck speed and there is no stopping the pace with Kill Fee. Indeed, this may be his paciest thriller to date with almost a chapter ever other page. The kinetic energy flies off the page and may be too much for some readers, but for this reviewer it is refreshingly quick. In the hands of a lesser author the back and forth between the cops and the killers would be too much, but Laukkanen has proven on various occasions that he can handle things and that is the case once more.

There is a wonderful balance to Kill Fee that belies the overuse of chapters. Whilst many authors would choose to settle into a long police procedural format, Laukkanen puts as much emphasis on the enemies as he does the heroes. In this case, chapters cover both Windermere and Stevens, but also the various assets that are under Kill Fee’s watch (as well as the mastermind themselves). By swapping between cop and killer, there is a cat and mouse dynamic that has only been bettered by the master of the style – John Sandford.

As well as giving swiftness to proceedings, the Windermere/Stevens books have always had the dynamic between the two central characters going for them. The sexual tension between the beautiful, single Windermere and the happily married Stevens is at its most palatable yet. Usually this type of will they/won’t tete a tete bores me, but in the case of these two it is genuinely interesting. This is because it is a mutual attraction and respect that both know will not come to anything. It is interesting to read about an infatuation that does not have to explode.

With the quick style and strong relationship at its core Kill Fee has already got a lot going for it, but there is one more ingredient that Laukkanen is brilliant at adding - a great crime story. Too much crime fiction has genius like investigators at the centre or bumbling baddies, it is only the likes of this novel that feel a little more real. The idea of an online hit man service may seem a little far-fetched (and the process of creating the killers is the daftest thing in the book), but the unravelling and capturing of criminals feels authentic. There is a mixture of luck, good police work and over ambition on the criminal’s side. Laukkanen gives the reader a very good sense of completion as the world around the so called internet genius begins to unravel.

Having read the first three books in the Windermere/Stevens series, it is clear to see that Owen Laukkanen may be a slightly acquired taste. The action is full on and the chapters do come a little too thick and fast on occasion. However, look beyond this and there is one of the best cat and mouse formats around and ‘Kill Fee’ shows this off to perfection. Sit back and prepare to hold tight as this book is one fast and fun ride.

You can check out the series from the very beginning with the wonderful The Professionals, or perhaps try one of the masters of cat and mouse; Never Go Back by Lee Child.

Booklists.jpg Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen is in the Top Ten Crime Novels of 2015.
Buy Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen at

Buy Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen at


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