Monday, August 6, 2012

Ray's Book Review: Discretion by Allison Leotta, Guilt by Degrees by Marsha Clark, Guilt by Association by Marsha Clark, Slip and Fall by Nick Santora

MSU Grad Pens Second 'Anna Curtis' Crime Novel

Clever prosecutors and sneaky lawyers abound in four well-written and entertaining crime novels.

The best of the bunch is "Discretion" by Michigan State University graduate Allison Leotta (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, $25). It again features diligent Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis, who debuted in Leotta's highly praised 2010 novel "Laws of Attraction."

Curtis gets involved in a high-profile case when beautiful, young Caroline McBride falls to her death from a congressman's balconey.

McBride was one of Washington D.C.'s highest-priced escorts; the congressman is in the middle of a re-election campaign and doesn't want bad publicity.

As Curtis investigates, she discovers a variety of information about Discretion, the escort service that employed McBride. Curtis has other problems - the chief homicide prosecutor is her lover.

Leotta has produced a nifty, taut, tense crime novel that provides solid escapism - or great beach reading.

"Guilty by Degrees" by Marsha Clark (Mulholland Books, $25.99) is the second in her acclaimed series starring Rachael Knight, Los Angeles special trials deputy district attorney.

Knight takes on an unusual case involving the murder of an unknown homeless man, which may have wide-ranging repercussions.

She gets help from her best friends, detective Bailey Keller and attorney Toni LaCollier. They discover that this murder may have links to the brutal killing of a hardworking LAPD cop two years earlier.

"Guilt by Association" by Marsha Clark (Mulholland Books, $14.99), now out in trade paperback, introduced Knight as a determined investigator who was looking into the death of an associate.

It's also a well-plotted tale of violence and death, with an unexpected and surprising conclusion.

Clark was the lead prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson murder case and co-wrote "Without a Doubt" about the trial.

"Slip and Fall" by Nick Santora, (Mulholland Books, $13.99) is a trade paperback by a writer/producer for television shows like "The Sopranos" and "Prison Break."

It showcases Robert Principe, a struggling attorney who gets involved with the Mob in a major insurance scam. When the FBI investigates, Principe is in the hot seat; thee's no easy way out.

Santora puts his writing experience to good use; his solid debut features lots of nasty characters, tough situations, significant violence and emotional challenges.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, August 5, 2012.

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