Allison Leotta is a former sex-crimes investigator turned author who now puts her unique skill set to use by writing real, authentic-feeling thrillers about the types of crimes most of us cannot even imagine.
The Last Good Girl is the fifth novel in Leotta’s series about a determined prosecutor named Anna Curtis, who seems to repeatedly find herself smack-dab in the middle of high-profile, national stories.
A young student named Emily has just settled into her classes at the University of Michigan when her freshman year is turned completely upside-down. Now she’s missing and was last seen leaving a bar near a popular fraternity on campus.
It’s revealed that Emily had just filed charges against one of the fraternity members, a guy named Dylan Highsmith. Highsmith‘s father is a powerful politician, so there’s immediate concern from law enforcement about treading carefully before making any assumptions or announcements that could ruin the Highsmith family’s good name.
Anna Curtis is on the uphill battle of a case, working with limited evidence until she discovers a private video diary that Emily had kept. That, combined with recorded footage of Emily running down the street with Dylan hot on her heels, taken from the night she went missing, is pretty much all she has.
The smoking gun, of course, would be to find Emily–but nobody seems to know where she is or have any useful suggestions on how to find her. Without the victim, does Anna really have enough evidence to take Dylan and his powerful family name to court? That’s the question that plagues her day and night.
Meanwhile, while Anna attemots to build her case, there’s another force working their magic behind the scenes, as Allison Leotta sheds light on the horrifying fact that some universities regularly dismiss students’ claims of sexual abuse to protect both fraternities and the university.
This point is hammered home in the story when Anna uncovers the university’s response to Emily’s complaint–making them one of the story’s secondary antagonists.
Aside from the case, Anna is struggling with feelings she’s developed for a new love interest. Struggling, of course, in the sense that she’s caught between him and her ex, who she’s now working with for the first time since their separation. Not a ton of time is spent on this aspect of Anna’s life, just enough to provide a break and change of pace from the main attraction.
Another angle to the stoy is Emily’s parents and their take on things as Anna questions them about their daughter. Further digging churns up some revealing things about Emily’s past, which Anna knows may change the way potential jurors (and the reader, for that matter) view the young student.
Honestly, I wanted to like this book and I tried hard to overlook some early shortcomings to give it a proper chance. However, I struggled with several low points where the plot seems to stall. I’m also not a fan of the choppy pacing, as the narrative seemingly switches between characters and Emily’s video blog at random.
If you’re looking for a good investigative legal thriller, The Last Good Girl certainly delivers that, as well as plenty of thought-provoking issues. While the story itself is compelling and the subject matter is definitely important, I just wish the narrative was a little tighter and more concise.
Author: Allison Leotta
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Release Date: May 3, 2016 (Order now!)