In Neil Pollack’s engaging thriller The Sex Traffickers, a policewoman weighs the meaning of justice as she decides between her duty to uphold the law and her conscience.
Morgan Kelly is a New York City detective and former soldier assigned to the district that includes Chinatown. Because Morgan has a personal history of sexual abuse, she is especially sensitive to the burgeoning sex trafficking in New York City. Her fantasy is to cut off the head of the snake—in particular, Satoshi Akita, the leader of the Japanese gang Yakuza who is known to deal in illegal enterprises in Chinatown.
When a young Asian girl is kidnapped in front of a school, Morgan believes Akita is involved and becomes heavily invested in getting justice for the girl’s distraught father. But as she hounds Akita, hoping to unnerve him, it becomes clear that she may be too dogged — with possibly fatal results.
Pollack twists and turns the story as if assembling a kaleidoscope. Turn it one way and readers can see the gang turf war building; turn it another, and they can see Morgan headed for trouble, first from her soon-to-be-ex-husband who is stalking her, then from Akita, who is tired of her pursuit. The author takes what might have been a tricky combination of disparate – and often complex – relationships and skillfully shapes them into a cohesive whole. As the picture comes into focus, the author adds another layer of meaning: the timeless dilemma of what qualifies as justifiable homicide.
The book is not perfect: Morgan’s background is a little too over-the-top in a bid to make her a more sympathetic character. But in all, The Sex Traffickers is a compelling read with a particularly satisfying ending. Readers will come away with a new appreciation for the difficulties of police work and the real price of this senseless crime.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.