Alone in the dark by Karen Rose
Cincinnati series, bk 2. Headline, 2015. ISBN 9780755390014
(Age: Adult) Recommended for fans of romantic suspense. Human trafficking. Murder. Scarlett Bishop is called out in the night by former Army Ranger Marcus O'Bannion. When she arrives she discovers a young girl murdered and Marcus injured. Marcus had responded to the 17 year old Asian's girl's call for help. Further investigation shows that the girl was a victim of human trafficking and had been held as a sex slave. Scarlett and Marcus are plunged into a dangerous world of corruption where crime bosses have no compunction about murdering anyone who gets in their way.
Although very long (589 pages) Rose maintained a high level of suspense as the authorities, aided by Marcus, follow a trail that uncovers human trafficking at its worst. There are some ugly scenes of torture and murder which are not for the faint-hearted and a lot of good people are targeted by some very nasty villains. The main theme of human trafficking is explored in depth and gives the reader much to think about greed and exploitation of innocent people.
The romance between Scarlett and Bishop, both flawed characters, is a highlight of the book but doesn't dominate the suspenseful plot, so that readers of mysteries and also romantic suspense will enjoy the combination. Rose explores the nature of being a police member and having to face trauma, mutilated bodies and depravity constantly and how her main characters cope with this is also a riveting theme for the reader.
Although this is the second in the series, there is enough information given about the large supporting cast for it to be read as a standalone novel. These secondary characters are also fascinating and some of them no doubt will be explored more fully in subsequent books in the series.