Owen Laukkanen

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Owen Laukkanen
Born (1983-02-20) February 20, 1983 (age 36)
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Occupationwriter, author
EducationBachelor of Fine Arts
Alma materUniversity of British Columbia
Genremystery, crime, detective
Notable worksStevens and Windermere series of Mystery Novels

Owen Laukkanen (born February 20, 1983) is a Canadian mystery writer, the creator of the Stevens and Windermere series. His first novel, The Professionals, was a finalist for the Anthony Award for Best First Novel at Bouchercon 2013, the annual World Mystery Convention.[1] It was also listed as one of the top 100 novels of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews.[2] Laukkanen lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Laukkanen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and raised in Windsor, Ontario.[3] He graduated from the University of British Columbia with Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative writing in 2006.[4] After graduation, finding work proved to be a challenge. He even applied to work as a driver for an escort agency, thinking it might provide interesting material for a novel.[4] Finally he came across an ad in Craigslist looking for a writer to report on the World Series of Poker.

Although he knew nothing about poker, he was hired by PokerListings.com and jet-setted around the world for the next three years covering matches in exotic locales like Monaco and Macau.[4][5]

First novel[edit]

Laukkanen began work on The Professionals in October 2009. The financial crisis of 2008 had brought unemployment to 10 percent in the United States. That situation and a chance viewing of a television program on kidnappers gave him the idea for the book.[4] The novel centers around four university students who, because of their poor job prospects, decide to embark on a career of kidnapping. They rationalize that most kidnappings go wrong because kidnappers get greedy, kidnapping wealthy people and demanding huge ransoms. What if they played for small stakes, kidnapping wealthy individuals but asking for just $50–100,000? The ransom would be easy to get quickly in unmarked bills and the stakes would be small enough that nobody would be bothered to pursue the matter further.[6] "Far better to pull quick scores. Lower numbers, but higher volume. Snatch guys like Terry Harper, Martin Warner. Midlevel executives, hedge-fund managers, guys with enough money to make the job worthwhile, with families to pay the ransoms, but with no glamour to their names. No romance. Anonymous upper-class fellas who just wanted to see things returned to normal."[7] The team moves from city to city for two years kidnapping people for small ransoms without getting caught or even pursued.

But Harper ignores the threats of harm to his family and goes to the police in spite of the small stakes. The cops get involved. And then the kidnappers make a huge mistake. They kidnap someone who has underworld connections. Pretty soon they have both the mob and the cops on their tail.

Laukkanen didn't intend to create a novel series. But the two cops chasing the kidnappers, Kirk Stevens, an agent with Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and Carla Windermere, an FBI agent, made such a great team that Laukkanen's publisher and agent urged him to continue with the duo as heroes in a continuing series.[8]

Stevens is an older agent, happily married while Windermere is a young and dynamic black woman. There is a subdued sexual chemistry between them as they work to solve the case.

The novels[edit]

Laukkanen has been turning out a novel a year since 2012. In order, the novels are:[9]

  • The Professionals (2012)
  • Criminal Enterprise (2013)
  • Kill Fee (2014)
  • The Stolen Ones (2015)
  • The Watcher in the Wall (2016)
  • The Forgotten Girls (2017)[10]
  • Deception Cove (2019)

Plaudits for the novels[edit]

The Professionals[edit]

  • One of the most assured new voices to hit the genre - Sarah Weinman, Maclean's Magazine[11]
  • Mr. Laukkanen has written a first-rate thriller. - Muriel Dobbin, The Washington Times[12]
  • Laukkanen's clever debut, the first in a new crime thriller series, compares favorably to Scott Smith's classic caper novel, A Simple Plan - Publisher's Weekly[13]
  • A fast-moving debut thriller with enough twists to fill a pretzel bag....Let's hope Laukkanen writes more thrillers like this one - Kirkus Reviews[14]

Criminal Enterprise[edit]

  • The writing is so crisp, the pages almost want to turn themselves. He's a terrific storyteller. - Kirkus Reviews[15]

Kill Fee[edit]

  • A blistering pace and a stomach-turning homicide-for-hire scheme. - Publishers Weekly[16]

The Stolen Ones[edit]

  • Savage, cathartic...Laukkanen deftly mixes sharp social criticism with bleak white-knuckle suspense. - Publishers Weekly[17]
  • Here it is not the criminals who are intriguing, but rather the victims who turn out to be far stronger and more remarkable than originally anticipated. - Library Journal[18]

The Watcher in the Wall[edit]

  • A gut-wrenching tale filled with empathy for alienated teens. This may be the best yet in a first-rate series. - Kirkus Reviews[19]

Award nominations[edit]

The Professionals[edit]

  • Anthony Award: Best First Novel 2013 (nominated)[1]
  • Barry Award: Best First Novel 2013 (nominated)[20]
  • Thriller Award: Best First Novel 2013 (nominated)[21]
  • Spinetingler Award: New Voices 2013 (nominated)[22]
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction of 2012[23]

Criminal Enterprise[edit]

  • International Thriller Award Best Novel 2014 (nominated)[24]


  1. ^ a b "Anthony Awards Winners and Nominees". Bouchercon: World Mystery Convention.
  2. ^ "Best Fiction of 2012 - Thrillers". Kirkus Reviews.
  3. ^ Chau, David (September 19, 2012). "Author Owen Laukkanen looks for human nature in crime". The Georgia Straight.
  4. ^ a b c d Medley, Mark (May 10, 2012). "The Criminal Mind of Owen Laukkanen". National Post.
  5. ^ "Articles by Owen Laukkanen". PokerListings.com.[dead link]
  6. ^ Laukkanen, Owen (2012). The Professionals. New York: Putnam. ISBN 978-0-399-15789-9.
  7. ^ Laukkanen, Owen (2012). The Professionals. New York: Putnam. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-399-15789-9.
  8. ^ From a talk given by Laukkanen to the Maple Ridge Writers Group
  9. ^ "Book Series in Order: Owen Laukkanen". Book Series in Order.
  10. ^ Laukkanen, Owen. "Owen Laukkanen: The Forgotten Girls". Owen Laukkanen. Archived from the original on 2018-01-20.
  11. ^ Weinman, Sarah (March 9, 2012). "Owen Laukkanen's got a hit on his hands". Maclean's. Archived from the original on 2014-10-24.
  12. ^ Dobbin, Muriel (May 11, 2012). "Book Review: The Professionals". The Washington Times.
  13. ^ "Review: The Professionals". Publisher's Weekly. January 9, 2012.
  14. ^ "Review: The Professionals". Kirkus. March 29, 2012.
  15. ^ "Review: Criminal Enterprise". Kirkus. December 6, 2012.
  16. ^ "Review: Kill Fee". Publisher's Weekly. March 6, 2014.
  17. ^ "Review: The Stolen Ones". Publisher's Weekly. January 26, 2015.
  18. ^ "Review: The Stolen Ones". Book Verdict. February 1, 2015.
  19. ^ "Review: The Watcher in the Wall". Kirkus. March 15, 2016.
  20. ^ Rudolph, Janet. "Mystery Fanfare: 2013 Barry Award Nominations". Mystery Fanfare.
  21. ^ Dionne, Karen. "2013 Thriller Award Nominees". The Big Thrill.
  22. ^ Lindenmuth, Brian. "2013 Spinetingler Award Best Novel - New Voices Nominees". Spinetingler Magazine. Archived from the original on 2013-04-11.
  23. ^ "Best Fiction of 2012: The Professionals". Kirkus.
  24. ^ Rudolph, Janet. "ITW 2014 Thriller Award Nominees". Mystery Fanfare.

External links[edit]