Author Dennis Herschbach has published his latest novel –A River through Two Harbors – the third in his Two Harbors mystery series, about an indigenous Canadian woman and human trafficking victim whose body is found in Lake County. Herschbach will be at the Two Harbors Community Center on June 30 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss his book and raise awareness of the crime he explores throughout the story.

Herschbach said that the topic of trafficking has been on his mind since he began gathering his thoughts for the third in his series featuring fictional law enforcement officer, Deidre Johnson. The novel’s original focus was on Ukrainian women trafficked to the North Shore to work in area resorts. Eventually, however, his research led him to a problem involving numbers of women closer to home.

“There was an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and I changed (the story) because so many women are Native American,” he said, acknowledging to the disproportionately high percentage of sex trafficking victims of indigenous heritage. The book’s title, A River through Two Harbors, refers to the stream of victims who pass through the town on their way to destinations beyond.

Herschbach said he learning about the Duluth harbor and its reputation as a trafficking hub, with women and children being ferried out to ships awaiting entry at the port. Once on board, the kids and adults were sold for sex to the ships’ crews. Herschbach said he’s read numerous trafficking victims’ accounts and, while a work of fiction, he said that his book explores this all-too-common reality.

“I write about the human experience and I like to write about things that people don’t necessarily notice,” he said.

The event at the end of the month will also be an opportunity for attendees to meet and hear from a speaker with a personal connection to trafficking. Scheduled is author Christine Stark, whose work on the issue is informed by her own experience as a victim. Stark will be available to answer audience questions and discuss her research, which has included a look at the regional picture of trafficking.

A dollar from each book sold will go to support the efforts of the Lake County Sex Trafficking Task Force. The task force has been active in the county for many months, working with local police and sheriff’s departments, border patrol, the DNR, schools, community organizations and victims’ advocacy groups toward developing resources for trafficking victims. Its members have also been attending meetings throughout the state and sharing information about how victims are targeted and groomed by traffickers. Last fall, the task force approached the Lake County Board of Commissioners about funding a billboard encouraging residents and visiting hunters to be watchful of possible trafficking or the exploitation of underage girls. The commissioners okayed the request and the message appeared near the southbound lane of Hwy. 61 across from Culvers in Two Harbors for a couple of months. Most recently, task force members Marlys Wisch and Sue Hilliard, say that the group has been raising funds to make posters directing victims to places of safety.

“If a teenager is in trouble, they’re going to run away to Duluth,” reasoned Wisch. (“The posters) are so kids will know where to go in Duluth.” The women say that they’re trying to explore every possible opportunity to get the word out in hopes of being invited to share what they’ve learned and prevent further victimization.

“We’re continuously trying to make connections to small groups,” Wisch said.

The task force is looking for additional members. Committed volunteers are needed to host a booth at Heritage Days, raise funds, get involved in efforts to develop new collaborations and participate in community prevention efforts. Donations are also welcome. See Wisch or Hilliard at the June 30 event.

If you go


- Monday, June 30

- Doors open at 5:15 p.m., program starts at 6:30 p.m.

- At Two Harbors Community Center

- Meet Dennis Herschbach and purchase his book. A dollar from each sale goes to the Lake County Sex Trafficking Task Force.