When the first immigrants arrived at Ellis Island, they were looking
for a piece of the American dream. Today they still arrive at our shores,
believing they will find freedom and opportunity. Some do, but there are others
who aren’t so lucky. There’s a growing faction of smugglers searching for
elaborate and often dangerous means of bringing human cargo into the United
Off the coast of Georgia these smugglers
have found the haven they need.The
Atlantic Sea Islands, a secluded port, is the perfect place to evaluate their
victims before they are scattered across the country in an underground network
of human trafficking. It is called the Magnolia Passage.
Malaya Phan is one of those searching for a piece of the
American dream. From the deck of a rusty fishing vessel, off those same islands,
her gaze rests on the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The moon catches the
hint of land rising along the distant horizon. Breathing in deeply, she tastes
the salty breeze on her lips and knows it won’t be long now. Or so she hopes.
She lost track of time days ago.
Another boat bobs in the distance, its white sails
shimmering in the moonlight. Gone are the rice terraces, white sand, and
coconut trees of her homeland, but in their place she’s been given the chance
of freedom. Any remaining fear begins to dissipate. Her father was right. The
dull roar of the fishing boat’s engine competes with the distant memory of his
voice, but even thousands of miles away, she can still hear the quiet
reassurances he’d told her before she’d left.
Life will be better in
America, my sweet Malaya. Trust me. This is an answer to our prayers.
She had trusted him. Trusted him enough to believe the
assurances of a stranger who promised a new life full of things she’d never
achieve in the poverty, pollution, and corruption of her own world. Hard work
and freedom would bring the prosperity her parents had only dreamed about.
Seven thousand dollars had been a steep price to pay on a mechanic’s salary,
but her father had told her freedom often comes at a high cost. One they’d all
been willing to pay.Soon she’d earn
enough money to send home to her family, and maybe one day, earn enough to
bring them all to join her.
Except Malaya’s dreams are about to shatter.
Nearby, homicide detective Avery North is juggling her career along
with the challenges of raising her pre-teen daughter as a single mom, when she
takes on the case of a murdered Jane Doe. The similarities to another recent
unsolved murder are startling, leaving Avery to believe that the murders might
be the work of a serial killer. Both murdered girls are Asian, and both have a
small tattoo of a magnolia on their shoulder.
Motivated by the belief that every human life is important, and a strong
desire to stop whoever is behind the killings, Avery works with medical
examiner Jackson Bryant to solve the crimes and prevent another murder. But it doesn't take long for them to realize that there is much more
to the case than meets the eye. As they venture deep into a sinister world of
human trafficking, Avery and Jackson are taken to the very edge of their
abilities--and their heart.
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