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10 August 2013

Allison Leotta: Speak of the Devil

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Authentic, violent legal thriller
Allison Leotta's legal thrillers are realistic because they are based on her extensive knowledge from when she worked in the DC Attorney General's office. This thriller is based on actual cases involving the notorious ethnically Central American MS-13 gang renowned for their violence, merciless revenge, and cruel retributions.

Anna Curtis is an Assistant Attorney General in DC specialising in sex crimes. She is also about to become engaged to her longtime partner, African-American, Jack Bailey, chief of the DC's homicide unit. Jack's wife, Nina, also a cop, was shot a few years ago by the MS-13 and he has been left to bring up his young daughter, Olivia, on his own.

At the same time as Anna and Jack are celebrating their engagement, a police raid on an alleged brothel planned by Anna goes terribly wrong. The police arrive at the same time as members of the local MS-13 gang are taking retribution on the brothel owner and one of his girls. The brothel door-man is decapitated by the reclusive, heavily tattooed "Diablo" (the Devil), wielding a machete and the girl is violently raped. Despite the clear evidence most witnesses are too scared to talk because of fear of the MS-13 and Diablo in particular.

Leotta's realistic plotting and a host of fascinating characters from both sides of the law deliver up a nerve-tingling thriller, with a lot of most unexpected surprises and terrible violence including multiple stabbings and decapitation. The story is also set against the background of Anna's and Jack's evolving family life which also gets affected by the gang's activities.

Parts of this book are not for the faint hearted and it is incredible to me, who doesn't live in the US, that such violent gangs exist throughout the United States.

Allison Leotta is an author to be watched and followed, both for future Anna Curtis novels, and also for planned stand-alone novels that Leotta may write while Anna recovers from the professional and emotional impacts of this novel.

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