From start to finish, a fast-moving and satisfying thriller starring a likable if unlikely duo.
In northern Minnesota, an off-duty deputy sheriff asks one too many questions of the driver of an 18-wheeler. A terrified girl bursts out of the back of the truck, and within minutes, the deputy lies dead. State cop Kirk Stevens and FBI agent Carla Windermere investigate the strange killing and soon discover the frightened girl, who speaks only Romanian. Through a translator, the agents learn that many more girls are imprisoned in that truck; a criminal ring plans to sell them as sex slaves. Just how big is this horrific operation, the agents want to know. And how can they find that truck before those girls disappear forever? Chapters both crisp and short show everyone’s viewpoint and keep the reader’s rapt attention. The escaped girl, Irina Milosovici, arrived in a shipping container and might as well have landed on Mars. She's filthy, in great danger, has no idea where in America she is and is terrified of men—and yet she's as strong and heroic as any character in the story. A team of criminals, including Andrei Volovoi and the fearsome Dragon, are making huge money by luring girls with promises of modeling careers in America. Losing a girl and leaving a dead cop is bad, Volovoi thinks, “[b]ut these things happened when you made your living selling women.” Stevens is a happily married dad whose family figures into the plot, while Windermere is single, black, beautiful, a wee bit profane and whip-smart. The two agents have worked together before (Kill Fee, 2014, etc.), and if there's justice in the literary world, they will team up on many more cases. Just keep them out of the same bed, and their chemistry will be great.
Thriller fans will enjoy this one. Laukkanen is a first-class storyteller.