The Trade

Overview

Small candles nestled in a silver candelabrum are ceremoniously lit to announce the start of a medieval auction. Sadly, however, we are not in the middle ages but in the first decade of this century. The auction is a nightly event somewhere in Eastern Europe. On the block are naked teenage girls, the latest casualties of the global flesh market. These sex slaves are not fiction: "Natasha girls" already number over a million, an atrocity that has joined weapons smuggling and drug trafficking as one of the largest ...
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Overview

Small candles nestled in a silver candelabrum are ceremoniously lit to announce the start of a medieval auction. Sadly, however, we are not in the middle ages but in the first decade of this century. The auction is a nightly event somewhere in Eastern Europe. On the block are naked teenage girls, the latest casualties of the global flesh market. These sex slaves are not fiction: "Natasha girls" already number over a million, an atrocity that has joined weapons smuggling and drug trafficking as one of the largest and most lucrative criminal activities on earth.

Kristýna Sondheim, at age 16, was among the first Natasha girls, but managed to break free of her captor and begin a new life in the States. That life turns ugly when she is sentenced to 25 years for the murders of her husband and young daughter - murders she did not commit. The novel opens with Kristýna's breathtaking escape from Abbyville, a women's prison built on land adjacent to Sing Sing. All we know at this point is that there is some link between the prologue and this remarkable woman; and that she knows her daughter, who witnessed Arthur Sondheim's murder, is alive somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Kristýna becomes the focus of both the public and the FBI because of her escape. What is not known is that she and her little girl are also the focus of Stepan Obruchev, the man from whose sexual servitude she had escaped, the man responsible for her husband's murder, her daughter's kidnapping and the set-up that landed her in prison. Obruchev, one of the Trade's major players, has contacts everywhere. He must find the girl, Teresa, who knows too much. He must find Kristýna before she is hunted down by Interpol. She will lead him to the child; he will have his revenge while eliminating the threat that he will be revealed - both as a killer and a kingpin in the Trade.

Thus begins an international race across continents, a frantic attempt by Kristýna to evade both Obruchev and the law in order to rescue her daughter. Her heart-stopping quest takes her and the FBI on a terrifying journey into the bowels of the Natasha Trade.

In Genoa, Special Agent Connor and his international team have her cornered. Kristýna again escapes; her courage and cunning evoke the most suspenseful scenes in The Fugitive. With the help of Natasha rescue groups throughout Europe, she spots her ragged daughter traveling with a tribe of Gypsies. Connor becomes convinced he is dealing with more than an escaped convict. His attention shifts to the Russian Mafia, the seedy criminal element calling the shots in the former East Bloc. He learns who Obruchev is, learns that he is looking for Kristýna. Together with the Austrian police he carries out a sting to penetrate Obruchev's operation in Slovenia. Posing as an insatiable buyer of teenage girls, he picks up the evil man's trail.

What has been kept from the reader to this point is that Obruchev's auctioneer, Rasputin, a fake priest and castrato, seeks to dominate his inferiors - those driven by lust. What better way to do this than to set up Obruchev for the cops and take over his business? Rasputin kidnaps Teresa before her mother can free her. In a note tied to Teresa's dog, Kristýna learns of a farm in Slovenia where she must go to find her daughter. Rasputin sends the same message to Obruchev, knowing the FBI will follow. All roads lead to the farm, desolate and enveloped in fog, for a nail-biting yet ultimately exhilarating denouement.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781461141471
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/21/2011
  • Pages: 358
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Kirkwood is best known for his Cold War thrillers, The Quiet Assassin and The Svalbard Passage. Before moving to Amazon, Kirkwood was published by Macmillan, Collier Macmillan (Europe), Donald I. Fine (an imprint of Penguin), Signet (an imprint of NAL), Brilliance (audio), and Stjerne-Spenning (Europe). After many years in the EU, he now makes his home in Denver, Colorado.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 5, 2011

    Don't Miss It!

    This is a book you won¿t want to miss. Without giving away the plot, I¿ tell you a little bit about what you can expect. First, don¿t plan on sleeping until you¿ve finished because it isn¿t going to happen. I tried to put THE TRADE down three times the night I started it. Once I even made it to the bedroom. I was back reading in half an hour. Everything is so real you feel like you¿re caught smack in the middle of the action. And everything unfolds so fast you simply have to know what happens next. The whole story revolves around the sex trade in young East European girls. Everyone knows how these girls end up as prostitutes, but the freakiest part of the book is the way they¿re sold at auctions. Handlers make them parade around on a stage naked while men from different countries decide what they¿ll be worth on the street. Then they place bids, like they¿re buying material stuff at some kind of sleazy Sotheby¿s ¿ not human beings. These aren¿t young girls who had decided to become hookers. They were tricked into doing what they¿re doing by promises of decent jobs in Europe or the US or Japan. All of this is just the background, and it takes place in East Europe. There are characters you won¿t forget, like the leader of Gypsy tribe or a spooky Russian Orthodox priest. And then there¿s the action, which takes you from the States to Western and Eastern Europe in a chase like nothing I¿ve seen or read since The Fugitive. All of this has to do with one of the escaped girls who busts out of a federal prison to find her daughter. Pretty soon the both the FBI and the man who got her through the sex trade are on a wild hunt for her. The Russian Orthodox priest, who is also an auctioneer in the business, is also involved. You can¿t even begin to imagine what happens, and I can¿t tell you without spoiling the story. Let me just say that this is a real thriller with a strong female lead character, and that it deals with a real and ugly situation that¿s wrecking a lot of lives and making a lot of low lifes rich. Kirkwood doesn¿t sound like a Slavic name, but he seems to know first-hand what he¿s writing about. I don¿t have a clue how. Maybe he¿s married to a woman from East Europe or has lived over there. Whatever the case, he¿s written one heck of a novel. I couldn¿t give it any higher recommendation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2011

    This Is A Terrific Novel!

    I can't give this type of book any higher recommendation than I am giving The Trade. From the moment I started reading until the last page, I was completely hooked. The action is non-stop, there is a surprise at every turn and the way it's all put together is really amazing. The writing is good, too. This is refreshing in a thriller, to say the least.

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