Erin Healy's website blurb
Serena’s career as a high school biology teacher ends just as it’s beginning, when an angry student accuses her of unthinkable behavior. Stunned and suspended, Serena retreats to the forest where she usually finds privacy and beauty. But on this day she encounters something even more unexpected than the end of her dreams: a killer, his prisoner, and a stranger who dies to save Serena’s life.
Christopher has spent a decade rescuing girls from the underworld of sex trafficking—starting with his sister Amber. Their tiny nonprofit protects girls from seduction, but their hearts’ desire is to bring down John Roman, the powerful criminal who first took Amber and has ruined thousands of young women since.
When Christopher’s colleagues suspect Serena of being in league with Roman, her life spirals out of control. How will she clear her name? Why did a stranger protect her with his life? And what is the meaning of the visions she sees whenever she visits the gutted house where he died?
The answers lie with her enemies, and with all the imprisoned women whose names she doesn’t even know yet.
This has all the hallmarks of what we’ve come to expect from Healy: gripping suspense, characters grappling with their external world but also with what’s in their heart, and an insider’s perspective of the “thin places” where the natural and supernatural intersect. However, added to this novel is an especially powerful story line drawing the reader into the dark sinister world of human trafficking.
The novel starts fast and doesn’t let up. Healy’s descriptive powers make this novel a highly visual experience. We get multiple points of view which I enjoyed as it enlightened the experience in my mind.
The story demonstrates how human trafficking is able to proliferate due to systematic abuse, deceit and corruption. For much of the novel we’re not exactly sure whether the heroes are actually villains and vice-versa. As the story unfolds the layers gradually peel away to reveal some very courageous people and sinister bad guys.
Serena Diaz and Amber Larsen are two very gutsy women, both survivors of this heinous industry, and marvelously crafted. They are drawn together, coincidentally, by Amber’s brother, Christopher. Embedded in both ladies is his passion and energy to rescue those in need and shine light in the darkness of the industry that has played such a role in their lives since their youth.
The bad guys are creepy in their arrogance, abuse of power and complete disregard for the lives of the many they destroy. Healy reveals the far-reaching tentacles of structured corruption that pervades the industry.