Allison Leotta’s ‘The Last Good Girl’ Should Be Your First Summer Read [REVIEW]
June 26, 2016 1 Comment
When a young woman cries rape during her first week of college, no one listens to her… until she disappears. Who took her? Is she still alive? And why do all clues lead back to her university’s most prestigious fraternity? Allison Leotta shows us where all the bones are buried in her latest legal thriller, The Last Good Girl.
In the fifth installment of the Anna Curtis series, the prosecutor finds herself searching for Emily Shapiro, the missing daughter of Tower University’s president. The number one suspect is the privileged son of Michigan’s lieutenant governor, Richard Highsmith. He is also pledge master at Beta Psi, an elite, secretive fraternity known on campus as the “rape factory.”
Curtis and her FBI partner, Agent Samantha Randazzo, search for clues that might lead to Emily’s whereabouts and discovering what truly happened the night she vanished. But every step they take forward in the case, they are pushed three steps back as Highsmith’s family, legal team, and influential supporters move to block their every move.
This is the first book I’ve read by Allison Leotta, who has been called “one of the very best crime writers today” (Linda Fairstein) and “a female John Grisham” (The Providence Journal). Yet after devouring this taut, pulled-from-the-headlines thriller, I must say that it transcends much of Grisham‘s work to the degree that perhaps it is he who should be called “the male Allison Leotta.”
With The Last Good Girl, Leotta has married the very best elements of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit with Dominick Dunne’s A Season in Purgatory, as she uses this story to focus on tough issues like what effects rape actually has on college girls, society’s desire to look the other way, the validity of the Greek system on campuses today, and the seeming immunity of the world’s wealthy and powerful.
In addition to crafting an unforgettable plot, the author’s deftly draws characters readers can relate to, such as Curtis’ new beau, Cooper, a lovable veteran with a prosthetic leg and a bad case of PTSD, and his younger brother, Wyatt, a pledge at Beta Psi. Leotta juxtaposes both siblings in a way that makes us examine what it really means to be a good man and the hefty price they must pay to make the world a better place.
Another character in the book is the city of Detroit itself. Leotta lures us from a beautiful university campus, down the abandoned streets of a city that is working hard toward its own renaissance. Whether Curtis is looking for a body in a rotting train station or seeking solace at Cooper’s urban farm, Leotta uses the landscape itself to build suspense and propel the masterful pacing of this marvelous novel forward.
If you’re looking for a story that will engage you from page one, you can’t go wrong here. The storytelling is impeccable, the plot is relentless, and the characters are some of the best I’ve come across in ages. So do yourself a favor. If you’re going to read only one legal thriller this summer, make sure it is Allison Leotta’s The Last Good Girl.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allison Leotta was a federal sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington, D.C., for 12 years. In 2011, she left the Justice Department to pursue writing full-time.