Saturday, July 8, 2017

Kill Fee (Book Review)

Title: Kill Fee (Stevens/Windermere #3)
Author: Owen Laukkanen
Publication: Penguin Audio, 2014 (hardcover published by Putnam)
Genre: Suspense/Series
Plot: In the third outing for FBI agent Carla Windermere and Minnesota state detective Kirk Stevens, the two sometime-partners witness an assassination outside a St. Paul hotel while getting coffee, and are plunged into an investigation of a mysterious killer. Carla chases the slender young man who emerges from the hotel but, uncharacteristically, she is creeped out by his frighteningly dead eyes, and lets him escape. Although Kirk knows he should stick to solving cold cases for the state, he is drawn into another FBI case where his talent is needed, and joins Windermere in a complicated pursuit that takes them to Miami, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Charlotte.

Audience: Fans of Harlan Coben, Joseph Finder, and John Verney should be reading this series, but I do recommend beginning with the first book, The Professionals.

My Impressions: I love this series, and am surprised it isn’t better known. Carla Windermere is a brilliant, as well as beautiful, African-American FBI agent. Stevens is a (frequently mentioned) paunchy middle-aged white guy. They worked together so well on their first case they developed a deep appreciation for each other as professional colleagues, and some romantic feelings, but Stevens loves his lawyer wife Nancy and does not want to jeopardize his marriage. Windermere is constantly surprised by the attraction she feels towards Stevens (see pauncy-ness) but she is lonely, far from a happier assignment in the South, several years post-breakup from her last boyfriend, has no FBI colleagues who are kindred spirits - on the other hand, does not want to disrupt Stevens’ marriage. One could argue that in the middle of a hunt for a serial killer, who would have time for all these longing looks and frowns and self-reflection, but Canadian author Laukkanen makes the angst very convincing. Still, Windermere and Stevens have the best kind of working partnership – they inspire each other and their combined efforts yield great results, so perhaps the author should allow Windermere a nice boyfriend so she and Stevens can concentrate on finding bad guys.
I enjoy the descriptions of the investigation, much of it realistically tedious but leavened by the clever deductions of the main characters and by a new FBI agent introduced in this book who I hope continues to play a part. In the last book, Criminal Enterprise, I was enraged by the sexism Windermere experienced from her FBI colleagues, and there was a hint in this one that the most blatant offender was still thriving. Boo!

Source: I listened to the audio version of Kill Fee which I checked out from my library.  I read the first book in 2013, and although I liked it very much I got distracted and did not get the sequel until May.  Now I am glad I waited as there are three more books - Laukkanen is quite prolific: every publisher's dream.  Having read that he spends part of his time in Prince Edward Island, I can imagine him writing in a little cottage like the one I visited three years ago.