Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: Speak of the Devil (Audio)

Summary: For readers of Kathy Reichs, Lisa Scottoline, Patricia Cornwell, and Lisa Gardner, a new thriller by former federal sex-crimes prosecutor Allison Leotta. 


On the very night she gets engaged to the man she loves, sex-crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis’s professional life takes a shocking turn that threatens everything she holds dear. 

While Anna is enjoying a romantic dinner capped off by a marriage proposal, a few miles away two separate groups are gearing up to raid a brothel. A vicious killer known as Diablo—the Devil—leads one group. A few minutes later, Anna’s own investigative team heads in to search the brothel, as part of the fight against human trafficking in D.C. Both groups are caught off guard, with deadly results. 

As Anna investigates the bloody face-off, the boundaries between her work and home life begin to blur. Though eager to focus on her new fiancĂ©, the chief homicide prosecutor Jack Bailey, and her soon-to-be stepdaughter, Olivia, this case and the search for Diablo are never far from her mind. 

When Anna discovers a web of long-buried secrets and official lies leading straight to her doorstep, the truth about this case threatens to rob her of the happiness she seemed so close to securing. And everything Anna counted on becomes a question mark as Diablo moves in for yet another kill. 

Allison Leotta draws on her experience as a D.C. sex-crimes prosecutor to take readers into the back rooms of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the hidden world of the Witness Protection Program, and the secret rituals of one of America’s most dangerous gangs. Universally praised by bestselling authors from Catherine Coulter and George Pelecanos to Lisa Scottoline and David Baldacci, Leotta weaves fact and fiction to create her best novel yet. -- Simon & Schuster Audio

Like many of you, I'm hesitant about starting books in the middle of a series; however, I heard from a few sources that I'd be okay listening to SPEAK OF THE DEVIL by Allison Leotta even though it's the third book in the series. Fortunately, I decided to take a chance because I enjoy mystery/suspense novel with strong female leads.

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL begins with Anna, a Washington, DC sex-crimes prosecutor, who is having a romantic dinner ending with a marriage proposal. Just a few miles away at a brothel, a violent gang member named Diablo and a sex crimes investigative team are both planning a raid. Things escalate when the two groups meet and the results are deadly.

Despite Anna's excitement with her recent engagement, she is quickly brought back to reality and forced to confront the bloody scene. As she delves into the crime, she finds that the distinction between her personal and professional life and blurred. She has to get to the bottom of the crimes not only to protect others but also to protect herself and her happiness.

I actually really enjoyed SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, and I wouldn't hesitate to read the other two books in this series. I thought the characters were interesting and I especially appreciated Anna. She was smart and gutsy, but she was also a woman who wanted to find happiness outside of work. I loved her confidence in the courtroom, but I also liked that the author showed her vulnerabilities.

In addition, I liked the mystery and how the events unfolded. I thought the crimes and the villains were positively gruesome (which right or wrong, did capture my attention), and I like getting an inside look into both a major sex crimes unit as well as the witness protection program. Furthermore, I found the portrayal of the gang (and Diablo) to be fascinating.

One thing that really stood out to me, though, was how well this book blended Anna's personal and professional lives. As a reader who didn't really know Anna's background because I hadn't read the first two books in the series, I was worried that I wouldn't feel an affinity towards her. That was certainly not an issue. Not only did this book work well as a stand-alone novel, but I immediately understood Anna. That was especially important for my enjoyment of this story since the crime and the participants totally overlapped with what was going on in Anna's life.

In addition to being able to weave a terrific suspense story, it's evident that the author really knew her stuff about sex crimes and the legal system. Ms. Leotta worked for twelve years as a sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington, DC, and I do think her experience shined through in her descriptions throughout the novel.

I listened to the audio version of SPEAK OF THE DEVIL which was read by Tavia Gilbert. I thought she did an excellent job. I found her voices, both female and male, to be convincing; and I was especially impressed with the number of different accents she used. SPEAK OF THE DEVIL is the first book that I've listened to read by Ms. Gilbert, but I sure hope it isn't my last.

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL is a very strong addition to the suspense genre. Recommended to fans of Lisa Scottoline, Karin Slaughter, and Tami Hoag.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I really enjoy books like that and need to get back to reading more of them. It sounds like Leotta really knows her stuff!

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

I had the pleasure of meeting this author at a recent event at my indie bookstore. I have a copy of this; really looking forward to giving it a try!

Beth F said...

Sound like a book that would hold my attention during my walks. The witness protection program always seemed fascinating to me.