By: Jack Wallace
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: February 6, 2024
Jack Wallace casts a bright light on the despicable world of the sex trade industry in his latest thriller, No Good Deed.
Christopher Jones’ life used to be the American Dream. He had a wife and a daughter, the perfect job, more than enough of an income to support his family and more. Then one day, he was laid off. The money tree wanes and Barbara, his wife, separates and then divorces him. Part of the collateral damage is he now shares custody of their daughter Amy. With nowhere else to turn, Jones moves back into his parents' house...
After he was laid off due to ‘downsizing’ from his job at Hospital Corporation of America, Christopher struggled to make ends meet and was forced to take a second job to supplement the launch of his computer repair business. It’s hard to imagine being a newspaper delivery boy in his late thirties, but it helped pay the bills. Besides, the work was mindless and the pay wasn’t so bad. It also gave him time to ponder life and enjoy the solitude that came along with 4 a.m. deliveries. However, shortly after making his regular morning pitstop for coffee and a snack, as he makes his way to his car, he noticed a "...slight woman huddled in the darkened doorway of a shoe store two businesses down. She was curled up, head down, knees against her chest..." Christopher has all the makings of a good Samaritan. However, this time may prove to be one of those moments when he should have just kept walking to his car.
It turns out Kim (the woman huddled in the doorway) was a lot more than a runaway. The same morning that Christopher was setting out on his paper route, at 4:45 a.m. in another part of town, Kim was preparing for her break. She couldn’t bear another day of indentured sex slave servitude under the horrors Kwan and Min-Jun subjected her and the other captives under their ‘ownership.’ Kim and the girls worked in a ‘Salon’ that guaranteed a happy ending by the girls to many of their patrons. Kim wanted her friend Suki to run with her. She had a plan and her freedom started as soon as she could make it to the Greyhound Bus Station. She would take the bus to Atlanta and from there, to San Francisco. Timing was everything and the early morning temperature chilled her to the bone. She had a couple of hours before the bus would depart and was terrified when she saw headlights heading her way. Was it possible Kwan and Min-Jun were hot on her trail? Where would she hide? Was Suki okay? She made her way to the only hiding place in a strip of restaurants and stores on White Bridge Road. She hunkered down as low as she could go and wrapped her arms around her knees hoping to make herself as small as she possibly could. She would watch for the bus in hopes the time would pass quickly and certainly, before she was caught.
Jack Wallace hits it out of the park with No Good Deed. The subject matter is disturbing at best, but a topic that is very real and tragically ignored: sex trade/trafficking. The sheer fact that modern-day slavery by trafficking innocent youth exists in a world that is supposed to be ‘evolved’ is unconscionable. His ability to develop rich characters is fantastic; particularly with the vulnerabilities he pens in creating Kim. She is a young Korean woman who believed in the American dream and packed her hopes and dreams to come to America. The ‘good people’ who offered her the deal of a lifetime to get here were offering nothing more than lies and smoke and mirrors once she arrived. At story’s end, Wallace explains how he develops his stories from the news. No Good Deed came to fruition after he read in "...our Nashville newspaper about a raid on Golden Massage, a spa in the tony area known as Green Hills..." Just like many egregious assaults on innocents, the parlor was hiding in plain sight. Thank goodness for authors like Jack Wallace to have the fortitude to tell the victims’ stories and I, for one, look forward to his next novel.
Quill says: No Good Deed is a fantastic example of the importance of getting involved and righting a horrific wrong even when it may be easier to look the other way.