A kidnapping drops Elvis Cole and Joe Pike into the maelstrom of human smugglers.
After L.A. college senior Krista Morales finds out the secret her boyfriend, USC dropout Jack Berman, has been hiding, she brings him out to the desert to reveal her own secret: the place where her mother Nita, who runs a highly successful business, was once brought into the country as an illegal alien. Unfortunately, the coyotes are still plying their customary trade at the very same spot, and Krista and Jack get swept up in a passing caravan. Convinced there’s something strange about a ransom demand of a measly $500 delivered over the phone by her daughter in a heavy Mexican accent, Nita calls in Elvis Cole, the World’s Greatest Detective. Working as usual with laconic Joe Pike, Cole soon ties the human-trafficking ring to the Double Dragon Korean gang and Syrian mastermind Ghazi al-Diri. But his attempt to infiltrate the ring as an unscrupulous capitalist who needs cheap labor backfires when he’s recognized and seized himself. Now Pike must enlist his mercenary buddy Jon Stone to help rescue Krista, Jack, Cole and maybe even the two dozen illegals with whom they’re being held in an undisclosed location. For some reason, the normally reliable Crais (The Sentry, 2011, etc.) doesn’t trust his story, loaded with the promise of vigilante heroics and nonstop violence, to deliver the goods. So he jazzes it by pulverizing it into sections that leap back and forth in time and among different points of view (e.g., “ELVIS COLE: four days before he is taken”).
The result is to loosen the logical links that connect one set piece to another and recast the whole story as if it were a string of trailers for a dozen hellacious summer movies.