Imagine being on the white sand beaches of Jamaica with the gentle ocean surf in front of you and warm sea breezes surrounding you. It’s one of my favorite day dreams but if you add a ruthless, hard-core criminal who kidnapped your college-age daughter and he is planning to sell her to the highest bidder to the scene, the dream becomes a nightmare.
That’s the nightmare that single parents Grant Turner and Andrea Carson are living in “Little River,” Cameron Park author James L’Etoile’s debut novel.
Grant and Andrea’s two daughters are college friends who went on a vacation to Jamaica together and they didn’t return. Fighting police indifference, the elements, corruption and their own worries about the fate of their daughters, the two parents unite to save their girls from a life of horror that will end in gruesome death.
“I like strong women characters,” said L’Etoile of his character, Andrea Carson, “especially women who didn’t think they were strong at first.”
L’Etoile, 56, has 20 years experience in the criminal justice system, as a probation officer and in maximum security prisons. He knows how criminals think and act and how the system can be corrupted.
During vacations to Jamaica, he began talking to local people about their concerns, one of which is the Haitian criminal network that has moved into Jamaica and is affecting the lives of Jamaicans and the tourists who visit.
“On the resorts and beaches, booze flows and inhibitions melt, creating a feeding ground for these predators,” said L’Etoile.
The story came together for him on a visit to Jamaica when he imagined what could happen to unsuspecting tourists. While doing research for the book, L’Etoile was appalled to discover that there 27 million people in modern-day slavery throughout the world; that 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year and 83 percent of confirmed sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens.
“All people deserve to be free,” said L’Etoile. “I enjoyed the process of researching human trafficking. It’s something most people ignore because it’s really uncomfortable to look at.”
Ten percent of the profits from the sale of “Little River” goes to Not For Sale, an organization fighting human trafficking.
L’Etoile completed “Little River” a couple of years ago but it took a few tries to find the right publisher.
“Salt Media Productions is a new publisher and I was new to being published, so we learned together,” said L’Etoile
In the meantime, L’Etoile finished a few other books and is now completing his seventh novel, another crime fiction, about black market organ transplant networks that entice medically fragile people into visiting other countries in order to receive transplants.
“It’s about a serial killer who harvests organs from his victims,” said L’Etoile.”Transplant tourism is really spooky.”
“Little River” is available as an e-book or in paperback version at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, Kobo Books, Apple iBookstore and locally at Face in a Book, 4359 Town Center Blvd. in El Dorado Hills.
Book signings at Face in a Book and Caffé Santoro in Cameron Park are being scheduled. Check the Website at jamesetoile.com.