Maybe you're familiar with "Minnesota nice," the stereotypical well-mannered behavior of people born and raised in the state of Minnesota. It means you're self-deprecating. You do polite things like taking at least an hour to say goodbye and refusing offered food three times before accepting it even if you're half-dead starved. You avoid fuss and confrontation.
In Laukkanen's terrific 2012 debut, The Professionals (see review here), Stevens and Windermere collaborate on a well-publicized case––the Pender gang's multi-state kidnapping spree. Criminal Enterprise begins a year later. Stevens has promised Nancy he'll do no more cowboying and is working cold BCA cases. He's trying to convince himself that the sense of accomplishment from solving one matches the thrill of working with Windermere, but he's not succeeding. While Stevens pursues an old case involving a murdered man and his missing wife, Windermere is longing for the competent, easy-going Stevens. Her current FBI partner, Bob Doughty, pulls rank and tosses a wet blanket over her attempts to solve the armed bank robbery on "Eat Street" in Minneapolis.
The bank was robbed by a ski-masked couple: a woman carrying a sawed-off shotgun and a blue-eyed man who brandished an assault rifle. The man cruelly pretended to shoot a teller before he and his partner leaped into a waiting Toyota Camry and were driven away. Your typical bank robbers tend to be amateurs or impulsive degenerates; the Eat Street robbers' weapons and behavior lead Windermere to believe they could be pros. She begins to examine previous open-case robberies to see if she can detect a pattern and identify a suspect.
Oh, but before you do, don't neglect to read The Professionals first. It's not necessary to understand Criminal Enterprise, but do it because these books are so much fun. They look at issues such as the toll of juggling personal and professional lives, the impact of an economic downturn, the strain of leading a double life, and relationships between men and women and between parents and their children. There's an interesting chemistry between Stevens, a good cop and family man, and Windermere, a glamorous and gutsy FBI special agent. In addition, the writing is so crisp you can almost hear it crunch between your teeth, and the action builds to a jaws-clenching finish. Don't take my word for it. Pretend you're from Minnesota or Canada and be nice to yourself by reading Laukkanen.
Note: I received a free advance review copy of Criminal Enterprise. It will be published on March 21, 2013 by G. P. Putnam's Sons. I'm thrilled to learn that Laukkanen is now at work on his third Stevens/Windermere book.