Some months ago I sent you a query under the title of THE MAILMAN. Your feedback prompted a re-working not just of the query but of the novel itself…and the title, which is now ONE WAY TO TUCSON. I’m hoping you’ll be so kind as to cast your withering gaze on the latest effort.
Also, can you say something, please, regarding proper novel length. Some quarters suggest a minimum of seventy thousand words.
Former two-tour Marine MP, Trevor Hayworth, is now a substitute mailman. [I don't think it's necessary to put commas around a person's name the way you would it if it read Trevor Hayworth, former two-tour Marine MP, is now a substitute mailman. I mean, would you put commas around "John" if it were My son John is very tall? To me, the question is whether you would pause noticeably before and after the name when speaking aloud.] It doesn’t pay enough but it keeps him clear of trouble. One day, while he’s delivering, a beautiful young woman begs him to help her escape her sex trafficking captors. When he offers to call the police she says the police and the traffickers are working “together”. [I don't see the need for those quotation marks.] That’s when Hayworth knows trouble has found him again. [Not sure what "again" means. Unless it's obvious to everyone that trouble must have found him in the past because he was a Marine MP. Maybe if the earlier sentence ended "...it keeps him from looking for trouble." and this one ended "trouble has found him."]
Later, Hayworth and the girl are in his pickup, racing out of San Diego for Tucson, where the girl’s family is supposed to live. [Changing "is supposed to" to "supposedly" would fix some ambiguity. For that matter you can just say it's where she has family, even if it's going to turn out that her family doesn't live there, since you're telling this from the character's viewpoint.] With them are three million dollars they took from the trafficker’s [traffickers'] house. Chasing them east on Route 10 are trafficking thugs, corrupt cops, and a newspaper reporter who moon lights [moonlights] as a hitman. Everyone wants the money and no one wants them alive.
As the skirmishes increase and the margins of their escapes narrow it’s evident to Hayworth they’re increasingly dependent on something notoriously unreliable: good luck. The girl, meanwhile, presents him with surprises and problems outside his skillset. And he begins to wonder—if they make it to Tucson—what’s really waiting for them there. [If I've followed someone from San Diego to Tucson because he stole my three million dollars, I'm not turning back just because he reached the city limits. It's not like a drawbridge will be raised as they enter Tucson.
ONE WAY TO TUCSON is complete at 65,400 words.
Most of my comments are nitpicks. It does seem rather abrupt that a woman needs help escaping her captors, and we immediately transition to: later they're racing out of San Diego with three million dollars of the captors' money. It has me wondering if the ex-marine broke down the door, killed the captors, blew open the safe, and took off with the girl and money just as the cops and the dead captors' cohorts and the hitman reporter were all showing up. Possibly that's exactly how it went down, in which case one sentence saying so would help.
Regarding "proper novel length":
There's no such thing. The minimum length of a book that can be entered in the Rita Awards (Romance Writers of America) short novel category is 40,000 words. Same for the Nebula Awards (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) novel category. The Edgar Awards for mysteries demands at least 22,000 words. For the Thriller Awards the cutoff is 35,000 words. As for maximum lengths, it's generally best to stay under 100,000 words, although fantasy books that require lots of world building are given leniency.
Your chances of getting a book published if it's close to the minimums for the awards have been slim in recent decades. Presumably this is because publishers noticed that people bought thicker books more than thinner books. It's possible this is less of a concern these days with ebooks because the thickness of the book, the size of the font, aren't visually noticeable. Also, it's cheaper to print a short book, and money's tight in the industry.
My own opinion is that the proper word length is that which you've achieved when the book has reached its conclusion. In a just world that would be the opinion of publishers and editors and agents as well, but I suspect if you don't come in between 60,000 and 100,000 you are reducing the number of publishers, editors and agents who will take a look at your book. You're not reducing it to zero, however, so check guidelines.
If you're asking because you want to know whether to increase your word count from 65,400 to 70,000, I doubt that's necessary unless the additional 4600 words would be filling glaring plot holes.