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Authors: Owen Laukkanen

The Professionals

BOOK: The Professionals
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T H E    P R O F E S S I O N A L S

G. P.
P U T N A M ’ S   S O N
N E W   Y O R K

THE

PROFESSIONALS

Owen Laukkanen

G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

Publishers Since 1838

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA •
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3,
Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand,
London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
(a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road,
Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) •
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017,
India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd,
24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Copyright © 2012 by Owen Laukkanen

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

Published simultaneously in Canada

ISBN: 978-1-101-56130-0

Printed in the United States of America

1   3   5   7   9   10   8   6   4   2

Book design by Katy Riegel

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

F o r    m y    p a r e n t s

Table of Contents

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-one

Twenty-two

Twenty-three

Twenty-four

Twenty-five

Twenty-six

Twenty-seven

Twenty-eight

Twenty-nine

Thirty

Thirty-one

Thirty-two

Thirty-three

Thirty-four

Thirty-five

Thirty-six

Thirty-seven

Thirty-eight

Thirty-nine

Forty

Forty-one

Forty-two

Forty-three

Forty-four

Forty-five

Forty-six

Forty-seven

Forty-eight

Forty-nine

Fifty

Fifty-one

Fifty-two

Fifty-three

Fifty-four

Fifty-five

Fifty-six

Fifty-seven

Fifty-eight

Fifty-nine

Sixty

Sixty-one

Sixty-two

Sixty-three

Sixty-four

Sixty-five

Sixty-six

Sixty-seven

Sixty-eight

Sixty-nine

Seventy

Seventy-one

Seventy-two

Seventy-three

Seventy-four

Seventy-five

Seventy-six

Seventy-seven

Seventy-eight

Seventy-nine

Eighty

Eighty-one

Eighty-two

Eighty-three

Eighty-four

Eighty-five

Eighty-six

Eighty-seven

Eighty-eight

Eighty-nine

Ninety

Ninety-one

Ninety-two

Ninety-three

Acknowledgments

one

M
artin Warner checked his watch as the train slowed for Highland Park. Quarter to seven. Not early, but not terribly late, either; time enough for a relaxed dinner and a couple hours babysitting the Bulls before putting Sarah and Tim to bed.

The train jostled and the brakes squealed and Warner stood, thinking about a hot lasagna and a cold beer and maybe, if Leanne wasn’t too tired, a little bit of fun in the master bedroom before they turned in for the night.

It was dusk by the time he stepped onto the platform, the crisp October air and the chill wind off Lake Michigan already hinting at the long winter ahead, and Warner shivered involuntarily and pulled his coat close around him as he joined the rest of the Highland Park commuters, a uniform crush of tailored suits and tasteful ties and thousand-dollar briefcases, a collective desire to get home, get warm, get fed.

The arrivals streamed out of the station, and Warner moved with the current toward the far end of the parking lot, the herd thinning around him until only a few stragglers remained. When he was alone on the pavement, he stopped and surveyed the archipelago of cars,
searching in vain for his own. The light was dim in the back corners of the lot, and he couldn’t see his car. He squinted into the shadows, turned around, and realized after a moment that someone had parked a van in front of it, a white Ford cargo van.

I must be tired, he thought, fingering his keys in his pocket and skirting the van to where his Lexus sat waiting. He pressed a button on his key fob and the car chirped in response as he reached for the door handle. Before he could open the door, however, a woman’s voice called out behind him.

“Marty?” she said. “Martin Warner? Is that you?”

It was a younger woman’s voice, a happy, what-a-coincidence voice, and Warner set his briefcase down and turned around with a smile to match. But when he turned to greet the mystery woman, hoping a little guiltily that her face was as attractive as her voice, he found no smiling beauty but instead two men, their faces hidden behind black ski masks. Behind them stood the van, its sliding side door wide open, and Warner stared inside, not comprehending, before someone wrapped something over his eyes and he could no longer see.

He felt hands grip his shoulders and shove him into the back of the van, and Warner heard the men talking around him, low voices tinged with urgency.

“Got him?”

“We’re clear.”

The door slammed shut, and Warner lay stunned in the rear compartment as the van rumbled to life and reversed. He was blindfolded, his hands tied behind him, and he had sudden nightmarish thoughts, visceral, involuntary images of his broken body, bloody and anonymous in death. “You’re making a mistake,” he said, his voice pitiful and weak. “Whoever you’re looking for, I’m not the guy.”

The woman spoke again. “You’re Martin Warner of 15 Linden Park Place? Married to Leanne Warner, father of Sarah and Tim Warner?”

Warner felt like he was going to be sick. “Don’t hurt them,” he said.

“Your kids are fine, Martin. Sit back and relax.”

“Why are you doing this?” He twisted in his bindings, craning his neck toward the sound of her voice. “Where are you taking me?”

“Don’t worry about it now,” she said. “We’ll explain it all when we get there.”

The van drove fifteen, maybe twenty, minutes, before pulling in somewhere and stopping. Someone cut the ignition. “Have a look.” A door opened and slammed shut.

A minute later, the rear door slid open. “We’re clear.”

Someone lifted Warner to his feet and pushed him out of the van.
“Hurry.”
He let them guide him up a flight of stairs and down a long hallway before they turned him left, walked him a few paces, and deposited him on what felt like a bed.

“Sit,” said the man. “Listen.”

Warner sat up. Listened to the sounds around him: the rustle of feet on carpet, chairs being moved. A door shut and was locked.

“Okay, Marty.” A third voice, a man’s, youngish but assertive. “I apologize for the blindfold. Just a precaution. If you promise not to take it off, I’ll untie your hands. Deal?”

Warner nodded. “Okay.”

“If you take off the blindfold and see our faces, Marty, we’ll have to kill you.”

Warner swallowed. “I promise I won’t look.”

Someone untied his hands, and he rubbed his wrists gingerly. A glass was pressed into his hands, and he brought it to his lips. Water. He realized he was thirsty and drank, emptying the glass.

“You’re wondering why we’ve brought you here,” the third voice continued. Warner was already thinking of him as the boss. “Yeah?”

Warner nodded. “I … am.”

“It’s really simple. You’ve been kidnapped, Marty. We’re holding you for ransom. We don’t want to hurt you. We don’t even want to inconvenience you that much. If all goes according to plan, we’ll have you back home tomorrow.”

“The police,” said Warner. “They’ll find you.”

“They won’t,” said the man. “Because they’re not going to know about it. We’re watching your house, Marty. We have eyes on your family right now. If anyone calls the police, we’ll know about it. And then we’ll have to react.”

Warner swallowed again. “No police.”

Someone pressed a phone into his hand. “This is not a big deal,” the man said. “You’re going to call Leanne and tell her you’re all right. You’re going to tell her not to call the police. You’re going to tell her if she does call the police, she’ll never see you again.”

BOOK: The Professionals
12.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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