Some of the best thrillers are written by people who have stared down evil themselves. For that reason, Allison Leotta is eminently qualified to write a bone-chilling novel about current, real-life villains. She proves that in her latest exciting book, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.
The novel follows Anna Curtis as she works to stop a vicious street gang before it destroys more lives, including her own family. Curtis is an inspiring protagonist, having worked her way up out of a dark and difficult childhood to attend law school. She has become a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington D.C. dealing with some of the worst criminals.
“She handles sex-crime and domestic violence cases,” Leotta says. “She is very intense and passionate about her career – but she can have a good time when she leaves the office. She has a complicated love life, and doesn’t always make the best decisions about men.”
But in this novel Curtis gets engaged. And on that same night, a terrifying man known as Diablo leads a vicious attack on a brothel. Anna is assigned to investigate and bring “the devil” to justice. The investigation soon leads Anna to MS-13, one of America’s most brutal street gangs. This is no fictional gang of killers, as Leotta knows well. For many years she held the job she has written Curtis into and brings her real-life experience into the novel.
“As a D.C. sex-crimes prosecutor, I dealt with some of the city’s most chilling crimes – but few were as frightening as those involving MS-13, which NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC calls “America’s most dangerous gang.” Members of this 50,000 member gang kill for fun, throw parties for the purpose of raping their female guests, and coerce their girlfriends into becoming prostitutes. I handled many cases where victims of haunting MS-13 crimes refused to testify, for fear of gang reprisals. “Speak of the devil and he will appear,” one survivor said.”
These cases inspired Leotta to do extensive research into MS-13 for her third novel. In the SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, Curtis discovers long-buried secrets, official lies, and a terrifying danger that comes straight to her doorstep. The facts she unearths in the case not only threaten her plans for a happy marriage, but everything she thought she knew about the past and present, good and evil, and the price of justice. Leotta spins such a gripping tale that THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL called her “the female John Grisham.” How does the author feel about that comparison?
“Great. I love Grisham’s books,” Leotta says. “He’s a master of making the pages fly. But maybe I’m more like the “DC Kathy Reichs.” My books are inspired by a fascinating day job. Anna holds the same job I did, but she’s far more interesting than me. And the things she does on the job are much more controversial than anything I ever did.”
Not content with being a best-selling crime novelist, Leotta also writes a well-respected blog about TV crime dramas. Unlike her books, she says there’s a spectrum of relative realism on television.
“There are very realistic TV crime shows, like THE WIRE, and novels like those of Linda Fairstein, and some laughable ones. I used to watch these TV shows and get so frustrated I’d throw slippers at the TV. Writing my blog, the Prime-Time Crime Review, has been much more productive.”
That doesn’t mean Leotta will turn her back on Anna Curtis. She’s already hard at work on the fourth book in the Anna Curtis series.
As Leotta says, “It has been fun to grow and evolve with her, and I’m looking forward to having a few more adventures (and misadventures) together.”
And if you enjoy a novel that allows you to follow a strong and admirable protagonist while exploring the darker side of real life society,, then you need to pick up SPEAK OF THE DEVIL and let Allison Leotta give you the tour.
“The moment you start reading, you’ll realize Allison Leotta doesn’t just write about this world. She lives in it — and works in it. She’s absorbed all its darkest parts. That’s why Speak of the Devil comes to life in the most haunting and best way.”
— Brad Meltzer
“Leotta’s Speak of the Devil is a fight against a present evil that will chill your bones.”
– Catherine Coulter, author of Bombshell
“This is a true thriller, and this author—who was once a prosecutor—shows her immense judicial savvy when it comes to everything from the descriptions of the backrooms of power and the inner-workings of the Federal Witness Protection Program, to the gang rituals that speak only of evil. An excellent story!”
— Suspense Magazine
Allison also blogs about what TV crime dramas get right and wrong, from her perspective as a former sex-crimes prosecutor. The ABA has named her blog, The Prime-Time Crime Review, one of the best legal blogs in America, for the last three years.
To learn more about Allison, please visit her website.