This debut legal thriller from Allison Leotta has something for everyone romance, action, courtroom drama, a strong sense of place, and interesting characters.
Talented narrator Tavia Gilbert gives an energetic performance, moving the novel along at a brisk pace. The Audie-nominated performer deftly switches among a diverse cast of characters, although her portrayals of female characters are much stronger than the leading males. Gilbert is at her best during dramatic and tense scenes, of which there are many.
Anna Curtis, a green Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Domestic Violence Division, has a haunted past that drives her to help women who sometimes have trouble helping themselves. When Laprea Johnson gets brutally beaten by her boyfriend, D’marco, Anna is determined to see justice served. However, Laprea lies on the stand to protect D’marco and then later turns up dead. Wracked with guilt, Anna is assigned to the case with the Homicide Chief, Jack. Things are complicated by Anna’s romantic relationship with D’marco’s public defender, Nick. As the case heats up, so does Anna’s personal life.
Author Allison Leotta is a prosecutor of sex crimes and domestic violence in Washington, D.C. The city becomes another character and the listener is taken on a tour of the best and worst parts of the nation’s capital. Her real-life experiences give glimpses into the inner workings of the local criminal system, as well as the psychology behind domestic abuse.
Anna’s own past with domestic violence and her coming to terms with it wrap up too neatly and quickly, and leave some undeveloped potential to that storyline. Perhaps the author is leaving room for a sequel, but it makes the book feel a bit thin.
Overall, though, it’s a strong first effort. Fans of Linda Fairstein, Lisa Scottoline, and Steve Martini may want to give this promising new author a listen. And followers of Tavia Gilbert will not be disappointed. Julie MacDonald