Dark secrets, a small town, and one supercharged trial provide the backdrops for Leotta’s latest legal thriller.
Jody Curtis once loved Owen Fowler, Holly Grove’s famed football coach, and when he dies in a fiery ball after his car slams into the football stadium where he worked, she finds herself the prime suspect in his murder. Jody's big sister, Anna Curtis, the D.C. prosecutor whose exploits Leotta chronicled in previous novels, flies home to help her sister in the wake of her own breakup from Jack, the homicide chief at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C.. Anna’s met by Cooper Bolden, a hunky Afghanistan vet who came home from the war with a prosthetic leg. And when she runs into her former high school flame–turned–police investigator, Rob Gargaron, she finds it’s her temper that flares—not romantic sparks. After Jody is arrested, Anna decides to defend her, but the price the two sisters pay for their stubborn refusal to let sleeping dogs lie may be more than they can handle. Leotta successfully replants her big-city prosecutor in small-town America, painting a realistic picture of how public opinion can wound; but the alternating chapters featuring the less-educated Jody don't always work—Jody sounds more like a creative-writing major than an assembly-line worker. The novel’s major flaw—Jody has a deep, dark secret about a long-ago incident with the dead man that she keeps from Anna—comes off as illogical rather than mysterious. The author scores big, however, by yanking Anna from D.C. and turning her into a defense attorney. This Anna is a much more interesting main character than the Anna of previous novels.
While readers may grow exasperated with Jody’s stubborn and nonsensical refusal to come clean with her sister about her teenage contact with the victim, Leotta’s growing skills turn dull Anna into a character who's not only worth reading about, but also one to look forward to in future works.