Criminal Enterprise by Owen Laukkanen
Putnam • $26.95 • ISBN 9780399157905
Published March 21, 2013

This morning we tempted you with 12 mysteries to read in January 2013. Well, here's one to put on your list for March 21—book #2 in Owen Laukkanen's fantastic series starring FBI special agent Carla Windermere and Minnesota investigator Kirk Stevens. (Read about The Professionals, Laukkanen's debut, here.)

I like Laukkanen's books because they start with a scenario that's plausible given our current economy. In The Professionals, a group of under-employed college grads turn to kidnapping to pay the bills. In Criminal Enterprise, a family man is laid off from his high-paying corporate job. He's got a pricey mortgage, a fancy car, kids, a stay-at-home wife. So what's he do to stay afloat? He starts robbing banks, of course (though it doesn't take long for Windermere and Stevens to get on his tail). Here's an early scene:

Tomlin settled into a rhythm. A few days a week doing taxes for senior citizens, a couple contract jobs for friends at big firms. A robbery every few weeks, when the money got low.

Or, more and more, whenever the mood struck him.

It wasn't just about the money anymore. Not even close. It was about the excitement, the power, the quick jolt of electricity he felt when the pretty tellers wilted at the sight of his gun. It was the same thrill he'd once felt when he walked through his office, watching the worker drones stiffen at their cubicles, knowing the room's collective sphincter had tightened the moment he walked through the door. It was power. Control. Robbing banks filled the void while it paid off his mortgage. And nobody had figured him out.

Tomlin found a small office in Lowertown, east of downtown Saint Paul. It was an old, musty low-rise with patchy off white walls and buzzing fluorescent lights, graffiti on the sooty facade. But Tomlin didn't much care for looks. An office would provide cover. An easy way to launder the robbery money.

With short chapters, multiple points of view and lots of action, this is a crime thriller that suspense lovers will gobble up in one sitting.Will you check out Criminal Enterprise?

What are you reading today?


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