I got a bit re-energized about crime novels so I’m continuing to read them. I picked this one up on the recommendation of a friend. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting so it took me awhile to get into it, but when I did … Wow!
“Genre-ically,” it’s either fiction backed up with recent and well-researched information, or it’s nonfiction creatively presented with fictionalized characters and drama – (I have to call it fiction because in terms of pages used, it’s more a story with a plot and so on, , but… )
by Peg Brantley
2018 / 368 pages
read by Sandra Murphy 9h 5m
rating: A+/8 crime-thriller (fiction and non-)
It’s the nonfiction part is about the sex traffic industry and its child victims from first set-up and snatch through the torture (nothing graphic) as well as escape and family reunification.
The fictional story line follows the story on a fictionalized and more intimate level, Three young teenage girls are kidnapped and sold into the sex trade – Mex Anderson and Kate are hired by their families to help find and get them back- these are not law enforcement people.
We readers kind of know this happens, but what we likely don’t know is the extent of the crime or the depth of the pain. We need to know that it’s traumatic, ugly, NOT rare, even here in the US of A; in Atlanta, Louisiana, L.A, Colorado, all over, wherever there are young girls to be snatched and the internet to make them available to buyers. This often involves organized crime, drug cartels and young men who owe a lot of money. The nonfiction of the book should be far more widely known – even if it is uncomfortable.
Brantley provides the information and sources for the reality of the child sex trade and it’s a good thing in at least two ways: First, the information is good to have and 2 it breaks up what could be an intense fictional story – much harder for me to read – with the news-clip realities which are somewhat less graphic. And the book is very specific but never graphic in the way pornography is.
I’m not sure if the realities bring the story to life or the fiction brings the realities to life; it’s that good no matter which way you read it (or both).
The plot line itself follows different threads – first there are the stories of three unrelated teen girls who are of different ages, backgrounds, skin tones – Coming from a family of wealth, the 17-year old Alexis is more mature and has an attitude of privilege. Jayla is Black, age 15, smart and ambitious with dreams to get out of her poor background. Finally there’s Olivia, age 12 and emotionally needy. These girls have to deal with other girls in the same situation as well as the men involved – mostly snatchers and pimps.
And there is the story of the private detectives, including Mex Anderson, on the hunt for the daughter of wealthy parents, who, along with Kate, his assistant and romantic interest, and Darius their computer guy and all round helper.
And then there is the information, a thread in itself after awhile, from many sources. I’m almost reminded of Robert Bolaño’s 2666 with less literary involvement (Bolaño is a poet) and the addition of fictionalized women characters – the info is very similar in some ways, from news clippings and reports. .
Early on I almost preferred the information sections, but as the story progressed the pieces of the fiction grabbed me as they turned into a page-turning thriller.
The narrator doesn’t do justice to the narrative – she has a bit of a little girl’s voice and it doesn’t quite suit the cops, pimps and drug lords she portrays but I got used to it and it worked.