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Novelist Owen Laukkanen is in town on Friday to sign his latest thriller, The Stolen Ones, which ventures into the dangerous and deadly world of human trafficking. Investigative team Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere are called in when a Minnesota sheriff's deputy is killed. A hysterical woman holding the deputy's gun is found standing over the body. She speaks no English and, at first glance, seems to be guilty of murdering the deputy. As Stevens and Windermere investigate, they find nothing is what it seems.

Laukkanen says human trafficking's a topic that's both necessary and difficult to discuss. "We have to talk about it, though," he tells us. "When I was doing research for the book I found out Houston is one of the hubs for trafficking in the country. Even if you think, 'Oh, this doesn't affect me,' really, it's all around us.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez