Thanks so much for the review. It’s enlightening (and unsettling) to see the assumptions I made for the reader in the name of brevity. Of course you would think Hayworth escaped with the girl that moment in the mail truck. Of course you would wonder why the girl didn’t just grab the money and jump on an airplane…and on. Some things still don’t work; the eight year old daughter (and grandparents) while crucial to the story are too complicated for the query. The search for the safe combination (and discovery of sex traffickers names and numbers along with policemen and politicians)—too complicated. Already it seems too long; I’m just hoping you will be good enough to tell me if the intro still sounds like “some far-fetched events contrived by the author just to get the characters together”.
THE MAILMAN (Working title, as there’s another story by that name I’ve learned). 64, 000 words. My background is advertising, not sex trafficking. (Yes, I’ve put attractive women in ads and commercials but they were always clothed.) I’ve researched sex trafficking quite thoroughly, with particular interest in the psychology that invades the girls’ minds—most of the time, but not always.
Ex-Marine MP Trevor Hayworth is subbing as a postal carrier in San Diego and struggling to make ends meet. While he’s delivering the mail, a pretty young woman begs him to come into the house, where she reveals massive bruises up and down her back. She says she was taken from her family in San Salvador seven years previously and sold to sex traffickers. Now she’s being kept in the house by a sex trafficking boss, who makes her wear an ankle monitor so he can watch her when he steps out. She noticed Hayworth’s Marine tattoo previously and hopes he is the one to help her escape and drive her to Tucson, where she’s learned her parents now live. [I'm getting the impression the mail is regularly delivered to the front door of this house. Are we in the 1950s? Isn't there a mailbox out by the street?] Hayworth wants to call the police. Alarmed, she says she is illegal and they will send her back to San Salvador where she will die and, besides, her captor is friends with a top policeman and provides him with young girls. Then the girl’s captor walks in.
The man orders Hayworth out of his house, insisting things are not what they seem. Hayworth finishes his route, all the while thinking about the girl’s back and her palpable fear and asking himself the question: “When are you going to learn you can’t fix things?” [It seems like he'd be asking himself, "How can you do nothing when this girl begged you for help?"]
Instead of going home after work, Hayworth drives to the girl’s house. Under the cover of darkness, he scrapes paint off a basement window and sees the girl naked and chained to a wall. [Which looks bad until he remembers that the captor said things are not what they seem.] He stops reminding himself he gave up playing hero and goes back to his pickup for tools.
Hours later, Hayworth and the [naked] girl are on the run, leaving behind a dead man, an empty safe, and their old lives. [As far as the girl is concerned, she left behind her old life seven years ago, not hours ago.] Chasing them are sex trafficking thugs, corrupt cops, and a newspaper reporter who moonlights as a contract killer. Everyone wants the money and no one wants them alive.
Why doesn't the captor chain the girl in the basement when he steps out? The ankle bracelet won't keep her from running out to the street when she sees a taxi approaching and getting a ride to a shelter or . . . Tucson.
Assuming the reporter is chasing her as a contract killer, who hired him? If the sex trafficking thugs hired him, why are they chasing her? Usually when you hire a contract killer it's because you don't want to be around when the killing takes place. As the contract killer knows about the money, was he told that the money was his fee? A smart contract killer isn't going to agree to terms that state he must kill someone in return for which he gets to keep whatever money she has on her. She might have ditched the money by the time he kills her, or he'd be worried there never was any money, and the thugs tricked him into doing their dirty work for nothing.
If everything actually is as it seems, maybe the girl should yell to the mailman from a window, asking for help. Getting him to come into the house and showing him her bruises and ankle bracelet and the captor coming in and trying to sell the vague explanation that all is not as it seems, and then apparently hoping the mailman won't alert the authorities to what he's seen . . .
The first paragraph has too much info. Something like this would suffice, even if it's not exactly what happens:
While working as a postal carrier in San Diego, Ex-Marine MP Trevor Hayworth hears a woman calling to him from a second-story window. She begs him for rescue from the sex trafficker holding her captive. Before Trevor can respond, the girl is yanked away from the window and the shade is drawn.
Hayworth finishes his route, all the while thinking about the girl’s palpable fear . . .