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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Last Good Girl

By: Allison Leotta Anna Curtis, #5

ISBN: 9781476761114

Publisher: Touchstone

Publication Date: 5/3/2016

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

From Allison Leotta, the “highly entertaining storyteller” (George Pelecanos) who writes “in a style that’s as real as it gets” (USA TODAY), a ripped-from-the-headlines novel featuring prosecutor Anna Curtis at the center of a national story involving campus rape and the disappearance of a young woman. Emma, a freshman at a Michigan university, has gone missing. She was last seen leaving a bar near the prestigious and secretive fraternity known on campus as “the rape factory.” The main suspect is Dylan Brooks, the son of one of the most powerful politicians in the state. But so far the only clues are pieced-together surveillance footage of Emma leaving the bar that night…and Dylan running down the street after her. When Anna discovers the video diary Emma kept over her first few months at college, it exposes the history she had with Dylan: she had accused him of rape before disappearing. Emma’s disappearance gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna’s investigation hits a wall. Now Anna is looking for something, anything she can use to find Emma alive. But without a body or any physical evidence, she’s under threat from people who tell her to think hard before she ruins the name of an “innocent young man.” Inspired by real-life stories, The Last Good Girl shines a light on campus rape and the powerful emotional dynamics that affect the families of the men and women on both sides.

My Review

A special thank you to Touchstone and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Allison Leotta, former federal sex-crimes prosecutor returns with her riveting mystery series, (Anna Curtis #5) THE LAST GOOD GIRL – a sensitive case, a freshman girl at a prestigious university goes missing, a powerful family, a monster, and an unstoppable federal prosecutor-- who has prosecuted congressmen, street gangs, serial rapists----and now frat boys.

Set in Michigan, Emily Shapior, a freshman at a Michigan University (fictional) —she goes missing, after filing rape charges against Dylan. Emily’s father is the president of Tower University, Dylan Highsmith (third generation legacy at Tower University--belongs to a popular college fraternity (four US presidents were alumni, along with countless senators, and CEOs). The big boys.

Anna Curtis, sex-crimes prosecutor is on the case—a missing girl in Chicago; warned to handle with care, and watch her back. A hot topic: "College campus sex assault."

Emily had waited her entire life to become a student and enjoy the entire college experience. Her dreams had turned into a nightmare. In addition, there were parent issues with divorce, etc. Betrayal. She was brought up to be the good girl. Attend the right schools and the right people. Appearances. Bury the ugly.

For a class assignment, freshman students were assigned to record at least one video a week, to describe their college experience. A log of time known as a vlog, to be continued throughout the year. BlueTube. (like YouTube), but just for Tower University stuff.

A secret. A party. Frat boys. Sexually assaulted by high-profile Dylan. Drugged. Black out. Dylan takes what he wants and does not know the meaning of “no”. He is protected by his family, frat brothers, followers, and a high powered team of attorneys. Power on his side.

Beta Psi had three rules: (1) Trust the brotherhood (2) what happens in the house, stays in the house (3) trust the brotherhood. Dylan was the brotherhood. Known as the Rape Factory. Secrets, crimes, skeletons—Underground. Wealth and power.

A recording. Six months prior. A statistic. One in five. A diary. Raped. A mom wants her to go to the police. Her mom wants to get back at her dad for ruining her own life. A father falling for a woman half his age. She does not want to hurt her father. She is not planning on posting; however, talking about her family on the vlog is therapy. She is the only one who can figure it out.

She knew it would be hard to face Dylan, his frat brothers, her classmates. Afraid of being judged, blackballed, laughed at. But being slapped down the school which is supposed to protect. A surprise.

Together Anna and Samantha Randazzo, FBI make their way through politics, going up against the University, stonewalling as they hammered out a plan. Inside the modern amenities and the historic architecture, there was sex, a part of college life. Other women. Victims.

Two days prior to the time Emily goes missing, something happened. Something changed. There previously had been a disciplinary case. What happened?

Emma’s disappearance gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna’s investigation hits a wall. On a personal note, she turns to Jack for help. She was just getting over him—however, Anna is desperate to find the girl before it’s too late.

The Highsmith’s always seem to be one step ahead. Things turn very personal. Anna could lose her license, her job, and her reputation. It is down to the wire. Anna needs a break. Is Emily still alive? Where is she? Dylan was the last to see her alive? Can they get the girls to talk? Psychological damage. Victims.

Inspired by real-life stories, a need for justice, The Last Good Girl is a perfect example what goes on throughout our campuses today; the politics and power---leaving victims sometimes powerless to fight for their rights. As though they have been assaulted all over again. Sadly, often by the college.

Wow, this was intense-- evil, sinister—debutantes versus prostitutes?

Compelling - lots of unexpected twists, turns and red herrings. Just when a victim seems to think they have justice; things turn in a different direction.

Well-developed and timely, combined with the author’s vast legal and crime expertise, (real life experiences) she brings critical insights to the powerful and emotional highly-charged topics, ripped from today’s headlines.

From fast action, and corruption--the suspense is high, keeping you page-turning. Leotta creates stories that both entertain and teach about the way the criminal justice system works – and doesn’t work. Weaving statistics, true facts with fiction--a nice mix with likable characters and enough wit, to balance out the heavy subjects.and corruption--the suspense is high, keeping you page-turning.

Since this was my first book by the author, (would enjoy reading the previous books) however, the author gets you up to speed.

Anna’s life in Michigan. She is currently living with an old friend, Cooper, (new love interest) PTSD, and her sister Jody (gives her plenty of advice), and Jody’s baby. A nice tie in with the men in her life. Anna thinks Jody would make a great detective. She has been working remotely for the US Attorney’s office as prosecutor, after taking time away to defend her sister in a trial (plus the breakup with Jack). Should she stay with Cooper, or could there be a chance with Jack back in DC?

I enjoyed the characters, (especially Anna) and Sam; infused with Anna’s personal and career life, as well as the usage of Emily’s personal blog (vlog) accounts which delves into the raw feelings and challenges in dealing with rape.

Since legal and crime - my favorite genres, delighted to discover this exciting talented author! For fans of Lisa Scottoline, Mary Louise Kelly, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Marcia Clark, Lisa Gardner and Laura Lippman.

A nice mix of legal, psychological, crime, suspense, mystery, cop procedural, and thriller--a touch of romance. A great read for adults, parents, teens and college students, as well—a cautionary tale. Especially those who have teens headed off to college.

Highly recommend!

Review Links:

College Decisions & Campus Sex Assaults

Blog Post: 2 May, 2016 by Allison Leotta

The month of May is the deadline for many colleges’ tuition payment and the time when students must decide where to go. As a former sex-crimes prosecutor, I’m happy to see that many young women making this decision are checking the statistics about reported incidents of sexual assault on campus. But I’m afraid the statistics are misleading – sometimes deliberately so. Read More

Advance Praise

"A timely look at a subject that's making headlines across the country...entertaining." - Kirkus Reviews “Fast paced with strong, vivid characters, this installment succeeds as a stand-alone, so readers new to the Anna Curtis series can easily follow. With a focus on a timely, important issue, this will be high on the to-read list of readers who appreciate the works of Lisa ­Scottoline, Linda A. Fairstein, and Gillian Flynn.” (Starred Review) - Library Journal

About the Author

Allison Leotta

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’s been dubbed “the female John Grisham.”

Her goal is for 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 novels in the Anna Curtis series. The fifth book, THE LAST GOOD GIRL, will be published this May.

USA Today says Allison’s writing is “as real as it gets.” Her books have earned “Best of the Year” awards from Strand Magazine, Romance Reviews Today, and Suspense Magazine. Her fourth novel, A GOOD KILLING, was named one of the “Best of the Best Summer Books” by O, The Oprah Magazine.

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. Read More






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