Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review for A Good Killing by Allison Leotta

A Good Killing
By Allison Leotta
Anna Curtis Series, Book 4

Publisher:  Touchstone (An Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Genre:  Thriller/Suspense/Female Sleuth
Length:  320 Pages
Format:  Print/eBook/Audio
ISBN:  978-1-476760-9-95

Buy Links:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo  | Publisher

About the book:  

Former federal prosecutor and critically acclaimed author Allison Leotta’s spellbinding thriller follows prosecutor Anna Curtis as she heads home to Michigan to defend her sister in a case that will bring her to her knees.

Newly single after calling off her wedding, sex-crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis is summoned home to Michigan when her old high school coach—a hometown hero—is killed in a fiery car crash. But Anna isn’t there to prosecute a crime, she’s home to support her innocent sister, Jody, who has been wrongfully accused of the coach’s murder.

But maybe Jody isn’t so innocent after all? The police are convinced that Jody was having an affair with the married coach and killed him out of jealousy. As Anna investigates with the help of her childhood friend Cooper Bolden—an Afghan War veteran with a secret of his own—she slowly peels back the facade of her all-American hometown and discovers that no one is telling the truth about the coach, not even the people she thought she knew best.

When the town rallies against them, threatening not just Jody’s liberty but both sisters’ lives, Anna resolves to do everything she can to save her sister and defend the only family she has left.

In her best book yet, Leotta, “a highly entertaining storyteller” (George Pelecanos), explores the limits of vigilante justice, the bonds of sisterhood, and the value of the truth.  

An almost perfectly executed thriller, A Good Killing by Allison Leotta is the fourth novel in her Anna Curtis series.  Well-developed characters, a tightly written mystery and plenty of emotional angst kept me turning the pages from start to finish.  In fact, I got so caught up on this book, I didn’t want to put it down.  While this is the fourth book in an established series, this book stands on its own and I was able to enjoy it without having read any of the previous novels.   Of course, now I want to read the first three books I missed.

Having just broken off her engagement, D.C. federal sex-crime prosecutor Anna Curtis feels as if her life is up in the air.  When she receives a call from a childhood friend, Anna discovers that her hometown’s beloved football coach has died, and that somehow her younger sister, Jody, is wanted by the police for questioning.  Jumping on the next plane home to Michigan, Anna soon finds herself playing defense attorney for the first time in her life and desperate to prove her sister innocent.  Something she begins to question as her investigation digs deeper into her hometown’s secrets.  With the help of Cooper Bolden, a childhood friend and Iraq war vet with his own secrets, Anna soon discovers that home isn’t always what we think it is as children.

Ms. Leotta does an excellent job developing the primary characters in this story; I easily connected with both Anna and Jody from the start and enjoyed getting to know them more as the story developed.  Told in first person by both Anna and Jody, we get to see a fuller picture of their background and what has been taking place in both women’s lives.  Born to a hard working mother and alcoholic father, Anna and Jody were both determined to get an education and get out of town, but only Anna managed to leave while Jody stayed behind and went to work at GM in Detroit. 

While both girls loved their mother, and she eventually raised them as a single mom and did the best she could, Anna and Jody have a close and yet fractured relationship; Jody’s been keeping secrets for a long time and both of them have a hard time trusting men.  Something they’ve both learned the hard way.  While equally intelligent, Jody’s past (both long term and recent), that’s tied to her personal history with the deceased coach,  makes the police look at Jody as their best candidate for a suspect and puts Anna in the position of having to look at the law, and our justice system, from the defenses point of view.  Something she’s never really thought about before

The secondary characters are also well developed and I especially enjoyed getting to know Cooper Bolden, their childhood friend and hottie yet damaged war veteran.  We also got to meet some characters from Anna’s life in D.C., such as Grace her best friend and Jack, the man she was going to marry, who is also technically one of her bosses.  We get to meet Jody’s best friend, Kathy, who’s got her own issues with the dead coach, which turn out to be tied to Jody’s case.

The mystery itself, as to who murdered the coach and why, is very well done.  The story takes plenty of twists and turns, and we discover who the coach really was as a teacher, a husband and man about town.  Ms. Leotta’s story also deals with a topic close to my heart in this story, how athletes and their coaches, have somehow been able to get away with a code of behavior that would get anyone else in trouble with the law.  As recent events in real life have come to light with professional athletes, Ms. Leotta’s story highlights how this insidious behavior affects both large and small towns.

Will Anna be able to prove her sister’s innocence?  Will uncovering her hometown’s secrets result in any additional deaths?  And will Anna and Cooper’s mutual attraction change the course of Anna’s life?  You’ll have to read A Good Killing to find out.  I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Crowns

About the Author: 

For twelve years, Allison Leotta was a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in sex crimes, domestic violence, and crimes against children. Drawing on this experience, she now writes legal thrillers, for which she has been dubbed  “the female John Grisham.” Her goal is for John Grisham to be dubbed “the male Allison Leotta.”
After publishing her debut, LAW OF ATTRACTION, Simon & Schuster asked Allison to continue writing about her fictional sex-crimes prosecutor, Anna Curtis.  A series was born! There are now four books in the Anna Curtis series, and a fifth is in the works.
LAW OF ATTRACTION earned a starred review in Library Journal, which said, “In this riveting debut, Leotta joins the big league with pros like Linda Fairstein and Lisa Scottoline.” Allison’s second novel, DISCRETION, was named one of the Top Ten Books of 2012 byStrand Magazine and Best Suspense Novel of 2012 by Romance Reviews Today. Her third novel, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, was named a Best Book of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.  The fourth book in the Anna Curtis series, A GOOD KILLING, will be released this May.

USA Today says Allison’s writing is “as real as it gets.”

Allison is also a contributor to the Huffington Post, where she reality-checks TV crime dramas like Law & Order: SVU. Her own blog, The Prime-Time Crime Review, was named one of the best legal blogs in America by the American Bar Association. Allison has provided legal commentary for outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and Reuters TV.  She serves on the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America.

A graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School, Allison lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband, Michael Leotta, and their two sons.

FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for a fair and honest review.  I received no additional payment for my opinion of the material provided.  

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