Dec 012014

Cover for The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen. A sinister photo of  stacked, large metal cargo crates. One is open and empty. Booklist: Recommended for readers seeking the thrill of the chase. Minnesota BCA agent Kirk Stevens (Kill Fee, 2013) is camping with his family when he’s called to the nearby scene of a rural deputy’s shooting. A young woman found next to the body could be either killer or witness; she’s hysterical and barely speaking English. When they finally convince the girl, Irina, to trust them, they learn that she’s escaped a ring of human traffickers who still hold her teenage sister captive. Stevens and his partner, Carla Windermere, get the case, and, assisted by FBI Agent Derek Mathers, they track the ring through a maze of shell companies and a string of bodies left like breadcrumbs as they race to find Irina’s sister before she’s sold beyond their reach. True, the human-trafficking story isn’t breaking new ground, but Laukkanen is gifted at creating relatable characters, and readers will happily tear through his version of this familiar plotline. The combination of breakneck pacing, scarily plausible evils, and steadily rising stakes culminates in an explosive, and only slightly improbable, finale.