by Michael Tidemann
Sioux Jayart West Books (ISBN 9798643854463 )
Anyone who doesn’t think human trafficking is a problem in the small-town Midwest should read J.D. Erickson’s entertaining and enlightening novel, Angels of the Night. Erickson lives in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Police and anti-human trafficking activists are beset with a slate of trafficking victims who find themselves embroiled in several ways. Most tragic was the case of Mary Jacinto, a Latina woman whose battered and bruised body was found in a park restroom.
However, the police and activists can’t go it alone. They’re assisted by the divine help of Angel Billy, a huge man of color who intercedes at key times to help victims, and also to warn those traffickers wise enough to hear his sage and heavenly advice.
When Taney Smithson, described as the creator and driving force of SAFE, a non-profit that saved victims of sex trafficking, relates the story of one victim, Wendy Mahew, to Police Chief Ted Storm, Smithson’s reaction to Mahew’s story is very credible.
“Taney shook her head, ‘She says an angel brought her here,’ Taney said.” Mahew was somehow transported from a Kansas City, Mo., hospital to Taney. Taney’s reaction, as well as Chief Storm’s, makes the story real for the reader.
The same goes for Bethany, another victim fleeing human traffickers.
“She slept and woke again, only to find the black man’s warm hand covering her own right hand. There were empty seats on the bus. She was a white woman with swollen, red eyes and face, and yet here he was. The warmth of his hand radiated through her, calming her. It was a strong hand. It seemed perfectly natural to be holding hands with a stranger as they rolled through the countryside.
“Her sudden vision of that strong hand holding a golden, flaming sword startled her, and she pulled her hand away. When she looked into his face, she saw that his eyes were closed.”
Angel Billy appeared yet again to Samantha, a would-be victim.
“‘I supposed he was an undercover guy. A black guy, tall, wearing a flannel shirt,’ she said, looking around the room again.”
Angel Billy makes a final appearance at the end of the novel when he tells trafficking mobster Tony Lakso, “You have much to account for.”
While it also has its lighter moments, Erickson’s novel still highlights the tragedy of human trafficking, making us realize that all of us can be angels.
(Michael Tidemann writes from Estherville, Iowa. His author page is amazon.com/author/michaeltidemann.)
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