A GOOD KILLING - Allison Leotta
Michigan - The Present
Anna Curtis, a U.S. Attorney in the Sex Crimes Division in Washington, D.C., just cancelled her wedding. Her groom's missing-believed-dead first wife showed up, and Jack needed to settle things with her before he and Anna can move forward. Anna decides to get away and visit her younger sister, Jody, in Michigan. Jody's friend Kate has arranged for Cooper Bolden, one of Anna's friends from high school, to pick her up at Detroit Metro Airport. Once she arrives, Anna sees Cooper has changed from how she remembered him. He had joined the Army Rangers and gone to Afghanistan. Now he is more muscular and wears a prosthetic limb on his left leg. He also drives a motorcycle, a vehicle Anna has never ridden. He takes her to Holly Grove and shows her where the town's hero, Coach Fowler, recently died in a car fire. Only the police do not believe it was an accident and end up questioning Jody, who is eventually arrested.
Due to events happening in Holly Grove surrounding the coach's death, Anna and Jody end up rooming with Cooper in a fixer-upper mansion in Detroit on the urban farm he is developing. Jack, her former fiancé from the previous story, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, distracts and disturbs Anna. However, her short visit turns into a much longer stay as she remains to act as Jody's attorney. It isn't easy. Anna believes Jody is lying to her. Cooper helps Anna investigate.
First off, let me say I am a Michigander, and while I hated the behavior of the citizenry of small town Holly Grove, it is very typical of anywhere, USA; however, I loved the author's depiction of Detroit.
The dynamics between the characters who have lived in Holly Grove forever, and those between Anna, her sister and Jack, and the supportive Cooper are fraught with tension, propinquity, and many other emotional dimensions that will hook readers. The two sisters are very different, which leads to disputes. Cooper is a great guy with a wonderful service dog that helps him control his PTSD. These situations are another reason I love this story. Anna, as in previous stories, keeps searching for the truth, but she finds it hard to change from being a prosecutor to a defense attorney. Unexpected twists and turns occur in the local law and justice scenario, too. Backstory is an integral part of this novel, and author Allison Leotta takes a unique approach of having Jody tell her sister what happened, starting when she was fifteen and in high school, in a series of chapters interspersed between present day actions where Anna is trying to prove Jody's innocence. Her tale builds the suspense and horror involving what happened to Coach Fowler. The story also leaves the reader unsettled: will Anna return to her job in Washington or stay with Cooper in Michigan? All these elements interweave to bind A GOOD KILLING into a Perfect 10 for me. It's too good to miss.