HARD LATITUDES by Baron R. Birtcher


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In Birtcher's fourth Mike Travis novel, the Hawaii-based PI, reluctantly answering a cry for help from his brother, finds himself threatened by a Hong Kong sex-trafficking ring.

The unprincipled sibling, Valden Van de Groot, runs the family's powerful finance company in Los Angeles. Though he's married, he was videotaped groping a prostitute in a hotel elevator, and now someone's blackmailing him. The girl, who's only 17, was imprisoned and programmed for eight years by the White Orchids, a sex trade operation with ties to local banks and officials. Travis, a former LAPD cop who dropped his aristocratic last name to distance himself from his wealthy family, intercepts a message from the blackmailers at a political fundraiser. With the help of an old cop friend and a sidekick from Hawaii, he connects the dots leading from one unsavory suspect to the next. Between incidents of violence and the kidnapping of a billionaire pharmaceutical executive's young grandson, Travis has to face up to relationship troubles back home. Birtcher is a solid, fluent writer; the story unfolds with good-humored ease, and Travis is a personable narrator. But though all of the elements are in place for a tense thriller, the book is consistently low-boil. The female victim is drawn rather sketchily, and the bad guys, who mostly operate offstage, aren't especially convincing.

Birtcher's latest is an agreeable but undercooked mystery about the sex trade.

Pub Date: June 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-57962-390-6
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2015


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