a Vianvi Podcast Book Review by Viga Boland, author & book reviewer
One of the joys of being a book reviewer is suddenly discovering a brilliantly, talented author like Peg Brantley. Brantley is a crime fiction writer with three previous books to her credit. If Trafficked is any indication of the kind of writing one can expect in those other books, you’ll be wanting to check them out as soon as your heart and head calm down after you finish Trafficked.
On her author’s website at www.pegbrantley.com, Brantley states she couldn’t understand why her stories were referred to as “thrillers”. Well that is exactly what Trafficked is. Even more specifically, it’s a psychological thriller that will leave you chilled, shaking your head at the ugly and heartbreaking reality of the sexual trafficking of young people, particularly, in this case, females.
Trafficked completely fits the description of a thriller as stated on the home page of Brantley’s site:
… thrillers are typically the most emotional, focusing on the fear, doubt and dread of the hero as she faces some form of what Dean Koontz has deemed ‘terrible trouble.’
There’s actually several heroes facing “terrible trouble” in Trafficked: Mex Anderson, the private eye hired to locate the privileged but ignored 17-year-old daughter of a wealthy business man; Mex’s estranged sister, Sedona, who cannot redeem herself despite the help she gives Mex; Cade, Mex’s woman; Darius, Mex’s right hand man; and Rachel, a former prostitute who will be key to the eventual rehabilitation of the three, trafficked females, Jayla, Alexis and Livvy. These three young women each emerge from Trafficked with lives forever changed, but each in her own way, a heroic survivor of “terrible trouble”.
It’s human nature to want to tune out the constant media reports of the sexual trafficking of children and teens: it’s a reality many would prefer to pretend doesn’t exist, or that they tell themselves only happens in other people’s lives, in other countries, other cultures. Well reading Trafficked will convince you otherwise. It will make you more wary and you need to be. The victims in Trafficked hail from Denver. Alexis comes from a wealthy family, spends her time working out and has money to burn; 15-year-old Jayla, a good student hoping to make something of her future, comes from a poor background where her single mom has too many mouths to feed; and Livvy? she’s your typical 12-year-old teen, sharing secrets with her BFF, but looking for romantic love in the wrong place: the internet. What makes these three females coming from such varying backgrounds so appealing to, and such easy marks for predators? Read Trafficked to find out. These girls could be one of your daughters…a chilling reality revealed brilliantly by Peg Brantley.
The author states on her site that in fiction based on social issues, it’s the “characters that drive the story”. That is definitely true of Trafficked and just one of the reasons this book is so hard to put down. The other reason is tied to what Brantley says here about what happened to her as she did her research for this book:
“The research for this story about buried me. Not only was there a lot of material, it was horrific. While I write fiction, and can tell it the way I want to tell it, what I was reading was real and not the way anyone wants it. I thought of these enslaved people and the heroes who never stop fighting to free them, and it was almost more than I could bear.”
Readers of Trafficked, will, like the author, find what they read is almost more than they can bear. It would be lovely to be able to close the book and say, “That was a great read! Thankfully, it’s only fiction!” But you won’t say that as Brantley also prefaces each chapter with snippets from newspaper, book and various reports on trafficking that will alarm and frighten you and make you want to put your arms around your children and make sure you always know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing.
But more important is the one question we all need to ask ourselves when it comes to our children: in our ever busy lives chasing what we think our families need, are we giving them what they really need? If we are, then maybe we will spare them the “terrible trouble” that Alexis, Jayla and Livvy faced in Trafficked. Add this book to your reading list today. You’ll be glad you did.
Book Review ©Viga Boland, author and book reviewer
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