Monday, January 5, 2015

"The Stolen Ones" by Owen Laukkanen is my favorite in the Stevens and Windermere series so far!

"The Stolen Ones" is the 4th book in the Stevens and Windermere series of thrillers written by Owen Laukkanen. I have been reading them since the first one ("The Professionals") and this one is my favorite so far, but I have enjoyed them all. 

Even though the stories of each book stand alone, I recommend reading at least the first book in the series before reading this one so you get some background on how the main characters started working together.  And really, because this book doesn't come out until March, you have plenty of time to read the first three books before reading this one.

I started reading this series because I thought they were Minnesota-based thrillers and this is my home state.  But although they generally start in Minnesota, I wouldn't call them Minnesota mysteries because the characters end up traveling across the country to solve their cases.  In this book, for instance, the action starts in Minnesota, then goes to Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

I continued reading this series because Stevens and Windermere are such an engaging pair of crime fighters.  Kirk Stevens is a middle-aged Minnesota white guy with a wife and two kids.  He works at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  Carla Windermere is his complete opposite:  she is a beautiful young single black woman from Miami who has been assigned to the Minneapolis office of the FBI.  In the first couple books they end up working together by chance on cases that intersect but in later they work together on purpose.

In this book, Stevens is on vacation in northern Minnesota with his family and gets called in to check out what should be an open-and-shut case of a local deputy shot by a young woman.  But he discovers things are not as easy as they first appear and calls in Windermere and the FBI when he realizes the young woman is a victim of sex trafficking.

One of the other reasons I enjoy this series so much is that the author gives the criminals as much personality -- and time in the book -- as the main characters.  The book isn't all about the main characters trying to solve a crime, it is also about the criminals and what they are thinking and doing.  The author creates criminal characters who are fully fleshed out, not just villainous caricatures. 

The reason I like this book the best so far is that there are two more characters in this book whose points of view are followed -- the Romanian sisters Irina and Catalina who are part of a shipment of Eastern European girls brought to the U.S. to be sold into the sex trade.  They are young but feisty and courageous.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced exciting and interesting police procedural thriller.

I received a free ARC of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review.

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