An FBI special agent works to bring down a sex-trafficking ring with origins in Russia in Chicago writer Raymond Benson’s latest crime novel, “In the Hush of the Night” (Skyhorse Publishing, $25.99), a compelling story with realistic characters.

When a car crash produces more than a dead driver, Chicago FBI Agent Annie Marino learns that the woman stashed in the trunk has a tattoo of bloody bear claws on her neck. Several women with the same tattoo have been found over the years, all suspected of being victims of a human trafficking ring.

With no leads or suspects, it’s been frustrating for the FBI and Marino, who wants to rescue the women from enslavement and probable death.

Marino’s neighbor Jason Ward is a recent college graduate whose fiancee’s family has Russian ties. The more he questions the motives of his future in-laws, the more he begins to worry.

A young woman from St. Petersburg, Russia, is lured to the United States to pursue her dream of being a fashion model. She’s thrown in to a nightmarish situation and realizes she’ll have to fight to survive.

The lives of Marino, Ward and the young Russian woman are destined to collide, and their strength lies in hope and sheer will to overcome impossible odds.

Benson doesn’t focus on the graphic elements of the story, letting readers fill in the blanks.