The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen
|The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen|
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler|
|Summary: Stevens and Windermere return again in their darkest story yet as they tackle a group of human traffickers. Can they bring down the criminals and save the young women before more lives are ruined?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: May 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
By book four in any series things start to go one of two ways; stagnation or consolidation. Are these going to be a collection of books that slowly become the same story over and over again, or will the author distil what made the first books so good and build upon them for a stronger, richer and varied series? Looking at the score for The Stolen Ones, it would appear that the future is bright, the future is Owen Laukkanen.
Minnesota Detective Stevens and FBI Special Agent Windermere are now officially partners. After breaking open three major cases, they are now the go to couple when it comes to the major crimes in Minnesota; even if one of them happens to be on holiday. What starts of as a family holiday for Stevens ends up being one of the most disturbing cases of his career. A young woman has been found next to a dead body, gun in hand, but she speaks no English and would appear to have been kidnapped from her home country with a container load of girls. Can Stevens and Windermere find the container and the human traffickers before they ruin any more young lives?
To say that Laukkanen is a writer of crime thrillers is somewhat of a disservice as his work goes beyond merely thrilling, into something much more palpable. This is a fast read – a chapter almost every three pages. The book jumps from the criminals, to the victims, to the police. Leaping from one to the other at such a pace really heightens the anxiety of the reader, especially in the case of The Stolen Ones as it is a book about vulnerable young women being sold into a life of slavery. A new genre term needs to be coined for this book; not a Thriller, but a Tenser, as you get incredibly tense, especially towards the end.
With the plight of so many lives at risk, The Stolen Ones is arguably Stevens and Windermere most high stakes case yet. They have investigated bank robbers and assassinations before, but the victims were few and far between. Laukkanen uses the character of Stevens to get the reader into the right frame of mind as to how disgusting this crime is. Stevens is a father and sees his own daughter in the eyes of the young women sold into prostitution – this allows the character to become a little more gung-ho than in previous outings.
With the case being so encompassing, the relationship between Stevens and Windermere does suffer slightly. However, as the sexual tension was starting to grow a little tiresome by this outing, resolving the issue is no bad thing. Having two very good operatives of the opposite sex who can work together, without trying to bed one another, is actually a different approach than most crime fiction and TV.
In many ways The Stolen Ones is the best outing for the series, as the subject matter is so strong, therefore, it is a shame that one of the bad guys is a little cartoonish. Simply known as The Dragon, this is a ruthless criminal who has little regard for human life. However, after reading about him and his crippling cocaine addiction, I am surprised he can tie his own shoelaces, never mind be a criminal mastermind. Thankfully then we have The Dragon’s number two; the real focus of our ire in the book. This is a businessman turned bad; a criminal who himself is trapped. Laukkanen has a fantastic way of portraying the criminal classes; he does not possess them with guile, but shows them as hapless cowards caught in the headlights. The author just needs to stay the right side of cartoonish, especially when the crimes are as vicious as those found here.
Like John Sandford’s Prey series, the Stevens and Windermere stories are all about the chase and with the stakes being so high in The Stolen Ones, the reader has their most tense experience yet. As the police get closer to the kidnappers the careful plans of these human traffickers begin to unravel quickly. Reading about the FBI doing a great job feels both reassuring, but also very enjoyable. Laukkanen is taking his series of books from strength to strength, but were is there to go from here – terrorists in space?
You can read more book reviews or buy The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen at Amazon.com.
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