Parents are supposed to protect their children from harm and keep their family save. But, not all couples are meant to be and sometimes circumstances change and situations lend themselves to making a profit from selling their children, stealing children and hopefully using them as slaves. When Lucia Colon is found dead her mother accuses the police of not caring about her death and that of her son Javier killed in a drive by shooting two years before. However, Elena Aroyo will stop at nothing until she gets justice for her two children. But, when her five-year-old granddaughter is taken as the real target for the break in, she is terrified and angry that someone else close to her will be gone for good. Lucia Colon is just the innocent victim and got in the way of the kidnappers when they wanted to take her daughter. But, who is behind it and why will bring out issues that we read about in the news everyday. With the mother killed and the child missing Sergeant Brent Freeman and newly promoted Detective Anne Samuels catch the case. With the Indianapolis Metropolitan PD and working in tandem with the FBI, they first suspect Lucia’s husband Carlos of the murder and kidnapping. Carlos is guilty of child and wife abuse and is the first person on their list. Bringing him in he creates a great façade, as he openly seems upset about his wife’s death, even though they are divorced, and his missing child. Thinking lies were being told about him he acts unset and distraught when he hears the news. Meet FBI agent Pan and the head of the force Major Stevenson who are all working together to solve this case when Samuels promises the grandmother she would make sure someone would look into the murder of her son and this promise starts a chain of events that just might link both cases and several others together. Kids are being abducted. Younger ones killed and harvesting their organs sold to the highest bidder to save another sick child and used for transplants. Older children are sold into prostitution. Human trafficking is nothing new and these children will provide money for those that are farming them out.
Meeting the kidnappers we learn about Nina who is in charge of the kids and abuses them and dislikes Mari from the start. Hitting her, locking her in a closet that is infested and worse this poor child becomes a shell within herself but is not alone. Jack and Hailey have been taken too and are older. Jack has been their slave for five years and fears for Mari who over hears with Hailey what they have planned for her when Lin, the daughter of the man in charge, shows up and orders Nina to stay away from Mari and brings in someone else. Getting to know the kidnappers you fear for the lives of these children but the author provides us with three children who are smart, resourceful but are they clever enough to get away from Darryl who just mind kill all three if he finds out what they plan to do. Interspersed we meet Natalie who is a prosecuting attorney and linked with Brent Freeman. But, when having to work with Anne Samuels his new partner and then teamed up with Agents Kendall and Pan for some reason Natalie goes ballistic and he no longer finds the relationship one that he should remain in. But with evidence coming in and links to both cases forming when Brent and Kendall are both injured and blindsided things change. Needing to remain in the hospital and having to depend on painkillers that Natalie provided things spiral out of control and you wonder just what her motives are and if she is possessed or just wants to own Brent or really cares for him.
The story flashes back and for the between the two cases, the police detectives on each case as something clicks and both Samuels and Erica Barnes, Brent’s former partner begin to think someone on the force is behind what is happening and they are quite sure they know who it is but why? Bringing in Carlos again they learn about his link to Nina and why she is one of the catalysts in what happened to his daughter. But, revenge comes fast and those that dare to cross the person in charge learn that their fate is no different than if they are killed during any ordinary robbery. Lin Huang is the daughter of the man behind the kidnappings and his only concern is that the “merchandise” is delivered on time and in good condition. When he learns that Mari has been hurt and the person behind it retribution is fast and immediate. But, when the pieces fall into place and the three children finally attempt their escape what happens next will keep you in suspense until the author reveals the ending. Behaving in a way that is dishonest or unfair in order to get what you want is just one way to define the title of this novel: Unscrupulous but when you look deeper into it you might just learn which characters are creatively depicted, defined and win the title of the most unsavory, unfeeling, cruel and out to get what they want at any cost because being UNSCRUPULOUS is what they are.
When Brent finally realizes what Natalie is and is twin sister is right there in the hospital to take care of you and understand his pain, Pan tries to connect with him and the pieces of the puzzle are still not quite together as no one is safe from harm. When Kendall is attack in the hospital and feared dead leaving her friends and family in despair just how are they going to stop what someone started and when you read the ending is this over? Is Mari going to be safe? Will more children be abducted? What happens at the end leaves readers wondering if Brent and his team will be back to finish what they started? The issues of loyalty, trust, friendship, human trafficking, selling and harvesting organs, lies, deceits and betrayals are all brought to light in this novel as author M.E. May leaves us wondering what is next?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine