As a serial killer stalks prostitutes in Columbus, Ohio, a distraught brother asks private investigator Andy Hayes to find his sister before it’s too late. In a deadly race against time, Andy soon learns he’s not the only person hunting Jessica Byrnes, but he may be the only one who wants her alive. Byrnes hasn’t been seen in weeks following a downward slide that started as a runaway teenager and may have ended permanently on the streets.
Assisting Andy is ex-prostitute Theresa Sullivan. She now works at St. Andrew’s, the mission church run by Andy’s pal the Reverend Roy Roberts, who is less than keen on Theresa reliving the memories that nearly killed her. A local congresswoman making headlines with her work against human trafficking puts pressure on Andy to solve the case, while the police don’t want him near their exhaustive search for the murderer. At the same time, Andy’s hunt for Jessica exposes the buying and selling of trafficked women across the region. Looming over Andy’s increasingly desperate search is the shadow of his most dangerous adversary yet.
Welsh-Huggins's strong fourth Andy Hayes mystery (after 2016's Capitol Punishment) finds the Columbus, Ohio, PI still struggling with personal relationships but a bit more confident as an investigator. When prostitute Jessica Byrnes disappears when five young women have already been murdered by a serial killer, Andy interviews a lot of people, including Det. Larry Schwartzbaum, who handled the missing-person call about Jessica; attorney Karen Feinberg, who once represented Jessica; and Jessica's sleazy stepfather, Jimmy Wooding. Andy is surprised by a call from Congresswoman Darlene Bardwell, who's concerned with human trafficking and wants to help. Just as a picture emerges of a troubled and frightened Jessica, Andy runs afoul of brutal pimp Bronte Patterson. Welsh-Huggins handles equally well the complex motivations of politicians, social workers, cops those who are supposed to help victims and of those who prey on them, such as pimps and johns. This series gets better with each book.