A mobster has little time to find a kidnapped girl, thwart child sex traffickers, and prove himself innocent of murder in this sequel.
When someone abducts the granddaughter of Shinzo Tanaka, the Tanaka syndicate leader seeks help from Levi Yoder. A fixer for the Mafia’s Bianchi family in New York, Levi doesn’t initially know why Tanaka chose him to track down 5-year-old June. She’s the daughter of Tanaka’s dead son, Jun, and lives with her mom, Helen, in Maryland. The search for June is barely under way when feds pick up Levi and accuse him of murdering three FBI agents. They have no real evidence, but Levi agrees to be a cooperating witness and assist in finding the true killer. Meanwhile, June’s kidnapper demands $10 million within two weeks or Helen will never see her daughter again. Complicating matters is Levi’s personal mission to get abused immigrant children off the streets, provide them shelter, and help them secure U.S. citizenship. This ultimately results in threats from human traffickers in Flushing, Queens. But it also leads to a covert organization that wants to recruit Levi in taking down child sex traffickers, whose upcoming illicit deal will be taking place in mere weeks. Rothman (Darwin’s Cipher, 2019, etc.) deftly blends a few genres in this second installment of a series featuring Levi. The murders and abduction, for example, are shrouded in mystery while combating human traffickers generates ample action. Levi’s genius pal, Denny, shows off gadgets à la the James Bond films, with the narrative even comparing him to Q. The author deftly retains a coherent narrative by typically concentrating on one subplot at a time, like the one monopolizing the final act after another is all but resolved. With his mob ties, Levi is a flawed but likable protagonist. He’s involved in sometimes disturbingly violent deeds, but his desire to rescue children is noble. He’s also persistently cool; when an associate says Levi can’t save all the kids, he confidently responds: “I can try.”
A riveting crime tale with a surprisingly effective multigenre approach.