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"The new Stevens and Windermere novel from one of the most dazzlingly acclaimed new writers in crime fiction. The billionaire picked a heck of a way to die. On a beautiful Saturday in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota, state investigator Kirk Stevens and his occasional colleague FBI special agent Carla Windermere witness the assassination of one of the state's wealthiest men. The shooter is a young man, utterly unremarkable-except in his eyes. There is something very wrong in his eyes. And it's only the beginning. The events of that sunny springtime day will lead Stevens and Windermere across the country, down countless blind alleys, and finally to a very flourishing twenty-first-century enterprise: a high-tech murder-for-hire social media website. But just who has the dead-eyed shooter targeted next. and who's choosing his victims? That's where things get complicated"--"A novel featuring Minnesota BCA agent Kirk Stevens and FBI agent Carla Windermere"--… (mere)
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This is the third book in a series that features Minnesota BCA Investigator Kirk Stevens and FBI agent Carla Windermere. They are having coffee outside a building when they witness the assassination of a wealthy businessman. They are drawn into the case by their respective agencies and their investigation leads them to a murder for hire scheme.

Windermere and Stevens have a real chemistry that I enjoyed in the first two books but is ramped up a bit more in this book. Windermere is single and beautiful, and Stevens is a happily married family man who is attracted to her, but knows it's a big mistake to pursue it further.

One of my favorite things about this series is that the author has a very unique way of making his characters both realistic and sympathetic. Even when the characters are evil, the reader can still understand how they ended up in their situation. He then takes those characters and weaves a very realistic plot that is fast paced and suspenseful. The short chapters told from multiple viewpoints keeps the action at the highest level.

I've read the previous two books in the series and this was probably my least favorite but I still enjoyed it very much. I highly recommend the first book, The Professionals. Laukkanen writes a great crime story, told in a fast paced and impressive way. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Aug 9, 2017 |
Synopsis: Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere are working together to identify and capture a sniper who is killing people and getting away with it. The odd thing is that none of the murders are related. They determine that this is a murderer for hire, but they realize that he isn't the mastermind but a tool. They must find the person behind these murders and shut down his business.
Review: This is a Manchurian Candidate type story with lots of suspense. There is a bit of romance between the two main characters that makes the reader wonder if there ever may be something between them. There are interesting plot twists to keep the reader from getting bored. ( )
  DrLed | Nov 5, 2016 |
Kill Fee, the 3rd entry n the Windermere/Stevens series by Owen Laukkanen, is a nice thriller with a plot that's a little 'out there', decent writing, believable dialogue, and a little too much focus on the competition between Windermere's male counterparts for her attention. I think the dialogue is a strength of the series, seemingly patterned after John Sandford's work in the long-running 'Prey' series, but its weakness is on the procedural side.

The plot is interesting: a man sets up an Uber-like 'murder for hire' site using ex-military personnel with psychological problems as his killers. Assassinations occur, one of which right in front of FBI agent Windermere and state cop Stevens as they sit on a park bench 'catching up'. Before you know it, the team is back at it, trying to figure out the links between seemingly un-linked murders. They eventually put it together, though the work seems to be impeded a bit by the relationship between the main characters and the romantic interest in Windermere shown by her junior partner, Mathers. Eventually, the good guys win and the only semi-sympathetic character among the 'bad guys' chooses to do the right thing at a climactic moment and makes it as much of a 'happy ending' as you could hope for in a book about serial killers.

SPOILER ALERT!!! So, the problems I had with Kill Fee are on the procedural side. I'm not law enforcement, former law enforcement, ex-military, or any of that, but some of my complaints are based on simple logic and others are from becoming familiar with procedures and capabilities through reading and observation. So I may be way off base, but....
- Why do the FBI people give up so easily when they reach an impediment? If another government or law enforcement group won't cooperate (TSA, for example), I'm sure there are ways to escalate issues.
- Another example is the ammunition supplier..... there were a limited number of addresses they shipped one-time orders to, yet the FBI never asked for them because the company said they needed a warrant.
- There are technical capabilities out there that don't seem to be used, such as facial recognition software
- The team constantly is wasting time flying out to crime scenes or to investigate leads that seemingly could be handled via phone or keyboard. A bunch of fake names are used by the Killswitch owner and his killing crew, yet rather then getting into various databases to check out the names and photos of the real owners of the names they hop flights, pull people in for questioning, etc.
- Seemed to be way too much focus on Windermere's attraction to her male counterparts.... seemed very unprofessional and also impacted the investigation. Not sure that would happen in real life...
- Why did they wait until the end to figure out how a DoD server can be used for the Killswitch site?
- Windermere, the all-star FBI agent, is a great physical presence but the real thinking to crack this case seems to be done by Mathers and Stevens.
I'm sure those sound nit-picky, but they bothered me throughout the novel. This is a good read and a decent series, but there is room for improvement. ( )
  gmmartz | Jun 21, 2016 |
[Cross-posted to Knite Writes]

Plot

FBI Agent Carla Windermere and Minnesota State Policeman Kirk Stevens are in the middle of lovely conversation one day in a park when they witness the murder of a wealthy media executive across the street. They pursue the gunman, a sniper, through the streets, but Windermere is so disturbed by young killer’s appearance that she falters, and the kid gets away.

Windermere and Stevens are then drawn into a convoluted hunt for an entity known as Killswitch, a person or organization that organizes hits for money. After failing to track the shooter down thanks to a clever alias trick involving rental cars, Windermere and Stevens are forced to wait until the next hit before they take action.

The trail leads them to Miami, where an importer meets his unfortunate end during a contract negotiation on a lovely yacht. Again, the shooter gets away before Windermere and Stevens can catch up. But the kid doesn’t escape of his own volition. Somebody helps him.

The next Killswitch hit in Vegas gives the team their biggest lead — because it fails. The disturbed young kid can’t bring himself to kill his target. Unfortunately, Killswitch doesn’t give up so easily, and another hit man is sent, who completes the mission. But Windermere and Stevens are present, and they manage to find themselves a witness — who was unfortunately hit by the hit man’s car during the getaway.

The witness tells Windermere and Stevens that two people were in the car.

The chase eventually leads the team to Philadelphia, where Killswitch has turned on the disturbed kid for his failure. His replacement attempts to murder the kid in his apartment, but the kid manages to escape with his only friend in tow, a young woman. The replacement chases them into Delaware, but after a couple of confrontations, the kid and the woman escape. The kid eventually drops the woman off at a police station to let her tell the story and inform the police where the former assassin is heading: a lake house in North Carolina, the home base of his employer.

Windermere and Stevens are, thankfully, in North Carolina. Using the descriptions from Miami and Vegas, they track down the mysterious second man, a defense contractor. They attempt to confront him at his home, but he escapes to his home base lake house before they nab him.

Unfortunately for the man, Parkerson, his two hit men “assets” have broken their “programming” and turned on him. As the police close in, he kills the replacement and flees, but he ends up running into the kid, who managed to find his way “home.” Parkerson is shot dead by his own hit man, who then surrenders to Windermere and Stevens.

The kid, who was brutally brainwashed by Parkerson, ends up in a psych ward for treatment and is reunited with the family he’d forgotten he had. His young woman friend also pays him a visit.

Stevens and Windermere find themselves back on the same bench from the book’s opening, discussing their partnership and what it means for future cases.

All the bad guys die. All the good guys live.

The End.

_____


My Take

This book took me forever to read. Not because it was bad. It was just long.

I thought this book had a lot going for it. The characters, both the protagonists and antagonists, were interesting and fully fleshed out. The book switches between multiple POVs so the reader gets to understand the motivations behind the actions of all the major forces, which I felt was a good move considering the setup of the storyline.

The plot moves along at a pretty quick pace, although I did find it irritating at times. The chapters are so short that I could never find a natural stopping point. I always had to stop in the middle of something important — that probably sounds like a stupid criticism, but it did negatively impact my reading experience. The book read like a race instead of roller coaster; there were no ups and downs. It was all the same, fast pace, amplified by the structure.

The story moves through several different settings, and while a couple of them seemed pretty generic (hotels and the like), the shifting surroundings for all the similar dangerous situations kept the plot points pretty fresh throughout. Overall, the world-building was solid.

Mostly, I thought this was a good read. Great characters. Good storyline. Iffy structure.

_____

Writing

Lots of third person POVs. Five or six? The author did a pretty good job giving each of the characters a distinct voice, so the frequent POV changes were easy to follow. The general writing style wasn’t anything special. Lots of dialogue. Lots of internal thought. Lots of action. Pretty standard for a crime thriller.

_____

Is It Worth Reading?

Yeah, if you like fast-paced crime thrillers, this is a book for you. Be warned, it is the third in a series, although you don’t need to read the other two to understand this one. I haven’t. In fact, I didn’t know it was a series until today, when I looked the book up on Amazon. Huh. I had my suspicions, given the reference to past events, but the book never read like it required former installments to “function” properly. I think it’s safe to say you can read this series out of order and not be lost.

Anyway, decent thriller. Pick it up if that’s your thing.

_____

Rating

4/5

_____

// Disclosure

I received this title from Putnam Books via Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  ClaraCoulson | Nov 16, 2015 |
These days everything is available on the web, and if you know where to look and have enough money you can even arrange the murder-for-hire firm of KILLSWITCH to get rid of those unwanted people in your life. This fact is brought to the attention of FBI Agent Carla Windermere and BCA Detective Kirk Stevens when on of KILLSWITCH’s target falls to the ground in front of them. Forced to team up once again, they begin the investigation that quickly turns into the proverbial search for the “needle in a haystack”.

This is Mr. Laukkanen’s third book featuring Windermere and Stevens and each of his books keeps getting progressively better. They are action packed, clever, and current. Windermere, as the young “super-agent” plays very well against the older and more seasoned Detective Stevens. The story line of Mr. Laukkanen’s books could well be the headline in tomorrow’s paper, only, made more interesting by the reader being involved in the chase. His “bad guys” are original, which is a difficult thing to say when you read as many crime thrillers as I do, but he really does manage to pull it off. They are always ordinary folks who have a brilliant, albeit, illegal idea to make a little extra money … college student kidnappers, basketball coach bank robbers and now a government employee organizing “hits”. Unfortunately, the schemes always seem to get away from them in one way or another and they wind up in over their heads. It’s worth mentioning something else Mr. Laukkanen always manages to do, unbelievably, make me feel sympathy for one of the antagonists. I always get the “Ah geez” feeling close to the end of the book. I always want the “bad guy” to be caught, yet am cheering for him at the same time. Now that’s quite an accomplishment.

I would highly recommend Mr. Laukannen to anyone who is a fan of crime thrillers. He certainly manages to do it right.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
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"The new Stevens and Windermere novel from one of the most dazzlingly acclaimed new writers in crime fiction. The billionaire picked a heck of a way to die. On a beautiful Saturday in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota, state investigator Kirk Stevens and his occasional colleague FBI special agent Carla Windermere witness the assassination of one of the state's wealthiest men. The shooter is a young man, utterly unremarkable-except in his eyes. There is something very wrong in his eyes. And it's only the beginning. The events of that sunny springtime day will lead Stevens and Windermere across the country, down countless blind alleys, and finally to a very flourishing twenty-first-century enterprise: a high-tech murder-for-hire social media website. But just who has the dead-eyed shooter targeted next. and who's choosing his victims? That's where things get complicated"--"A novel featuring Minnesota BCA agent Kirk Stevens and FBI agent Carla Windermere"--

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