By Stuart Neville

Soho, 2012 ($25.00)

ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-983-4

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Galya Petrova left her home in the Ukraine expecting to get a job as an English tutor in Ireland. What she gets instead is a miserable job in a mushroom factory, and then, going from awful to horrible, she is sold to a brothel in Belfast. She manages to escape by killing one of her Lithuanian captors. She calls Billy, a man who'd offered her his help, but soon finds she's gone from the frying pan into the fire. Billy says he can save her soul, but at what cost? Galya has been warned that the cops are her enemies, so that's not an option for her. Luckily for her, Detective Inspector Jack Lennon didn't get that memo.

Lennon just wants to spend a peaceful Christmas with his seven-year-old daughter Ellen. He wasn't much of a father to her during her first six years, and she is still having nightmares about the fire that took her mother's life and almost took her own. His long-suffering neighbor Susan takes care of his child on the many occasions when he's called out to work. Her maternal relatives are tugging on him to let Ellen live with them. He is torn between guilt and anger, but is determined he will raise his child on his own.

Arturas Straydas is a bully and a thug, but he fears his mother more than he fears the police or anyone else. She tells him not to come home until he finds and deals with the girl who killed his brother. He and Mom own a labor agency that is a front for human trafficking, among other things. She is not one who suffers fools gladly.

Gayla is in mortal peril on two fronts. She is strong and resourceful, but is it enough to keep her alive until the good guys finds her? Neville takes the reader on a suspenseful, edge-of-the-seat thrill ride through Belfast as she tries to survive.

This is a thriller, a police procedural, a darn fine yarn. It is also a story of mothers, good, bad, evil or absent. Ellen cries for her mommy; Galya tries to act as the grandmother who raised her would have. Arturas's mother is a monster, but he loves her almost as much as he fears her.

Neville's first novel, GHOSTS OF BELFAST, and his second, COLLUSION, were award-winners. He is a richly-gifted writer with many accolades and awards to come.

This title will be available in paperback on September 4, 2012. You may pre-order it from your favorite online book source.

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