In "Speak of the Devil," Allison Leotta brings back sex-crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis, who calls on her friend Samantha Randazzo, an FBI agent, to help when a new case is riddled with some thorny issues.
While Anna is proposing to Jack, who in the second book, "Discretion," wanted to marry Anna, things are not going well on a police raid in DC. Two gang-leaders are getting ready to punish the owner of a brothel. One is called "El Diablo," or Devil, because of his appearance -- he has tattoos covering most of his face and body and horns sticking out of his forehead. His teeth are filed to points. His sidekick is Psycho, a monster who grins nonstop.
When the police raid runs into the gang raid and the results are deadly, the case goes to Anna. She must decide what to do when long-held secrets are uncovered which most certainly could affect her relationship with Jack, whom she is planning to marry soon.
While Anna finally feels close to Olivia, Jack's daughter, and is happily planning for the wedding of her dreams, she is also dealing with a case that is the stuff of nightmares. People's heads are rolling -- literally. The Mara Salvatrucha, the gang, has greenlighted Anna (put out a death warrant on her).
Leotta balances several aspects of the novel well -- from the increasingly intense relationship between Anna and Jack to the increasing violence that threatens not only Anna, but other important characters. During the course of the investigation, Anna's eyes are opened about something in Jack's past -- something that will change their lives.
Anna makes a good protagonist -- smart and hardworking but caring. Her FBI friend, Sam, and Sam's brother (who runs the family restaurant and who adores Anna), make for a cast of characters that will surely appear in the next book.
The writing flows well, the action is well-paced, and although it's a sequel, the book stands on its own. It's obvious that Leotta knows of what she writes. She spent 12 years in Washington, DC, as a federal sex-crimes prosecutor. The book oozes reality, from the descriptions of dingy courtrooms to the harsh conditions of police work and legal paperwork.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Touchstone, for review purposes.
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