This is a legal procedural set in Washington, D.C., about Anna Curtis, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the US. Attorney’s Office, a job the author has done in real life. Also like Anna, the author worked for a while in the misdemeanor domestic violence division. According to her interviews, the stories she encountered at work both inspired and horrified her, and she wanted to share them in the form of a novel. Why fiction? She said:
“In fiction, your characters can do all these things that you couldn’t do as a lawyer — they can run amok and do fun, crazy things that you never could do without getting into trouble.”
The protagonist, Anna Curtis, gets in plenty of trouble. Having been brought up herself in an environment of domestic violence, she finds herself repeatedly attracted to “bad boys,” but like many of the women she represents, she just can’t see what she’s doing. When her latest client ends up killed by her battering boyfriend however, Anna vows not only to avenge her dead client, but to straighten up her own life as well. Both goals turn out to be more difficult than she imagined.
Evaluation: This is Leotta’s first book, and one can detect a little unevenness in the execution. When she is on her familiar turf in the courthouse, her writing has an easy flow and expertise. Romantic scenes are occasionally awkward – but it could just be me. Personally, I can’t imagine that if I had just had a near death experience and was being hugged, that I would think to myself, “His muscular pecs rose and fell as he breathed.” I also found the exposé scene of the turns-out-to-be-bad guy a bit over the top, but again, what do I know? Leotta actually deals with a lot of bad guys; maybe being on the psychological edge makes these guys a bit apt to jump the shark.
These are just little moments in the book, however. Overall it is an entertaining reading experience. Would I read a follow-up book involving Anna Curtis? But of course!
Published by Touchstone, 2010