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by Allison Leotta
Touchstone, May 2015
320 pages
ISBN: 1476760993

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Is a murder ever justified? The title of this entry in the Anna Curtis series, A GOOD KILLING, while providing a strong hint as to how the author answers that question, also continues to develop the character of a likeable and complex heroine as she faces personal as well as legal challenges. Allison Leotta uses her own background as a federal prosecutor for this easy-to-read tale that includes enough legal procedure and courtroom histrionics to allow this story about DC federal prosecutor Anna Curtis to ring true.

Leotta weaves two different story lines together one from the point of view of Jody, Anna's younger sister who is accused of killing the seemingly popular football coach in a small town near Detroit, and a third person narrative that focuses on Anna and her struggles to understand what has been happening in her sister's life.

There is also a romantic entanglement Anna has just broken off her engagement and cancels her upcoming marriage, but conveniently ends up becoming involved with a handsome veteran who may have lost a leg, but may be the most intact character in the book. Again, I would have liked our heroine to take a little more time between relationships, but romance certainly sells.

And if the murder mystery and romance were not enough, the author also explored post-traumatic stress syndrome, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, bullying through social media, small town corruption, the difficulties of Detroit's attempt to recreate itself after the weakening of the American auto industry, and the legal system in general. It is a lot to chew on, and the author does not always provide the analysis that the subjects deserved.

Leotta does paint an effective picture of the importance of high school football in small towns, and how the football coach has an enormous amount of influence over young lives. She also captured the nuanced relationship between sisters, balancing the love and caring they feel for one another with the competitive nature that is also present.

A GOOD KILLING was an entertaining read. Yes, I also found it flawed. Yet I liked the book enough to think about reading the earlier entrants in the Anna Curtis series.

Phyllis Onstad has been a writer, editor, civil servant, teacher and voracious reader. She currently lives in the California wine country.

Reviewed by Phylllis Onstad, July 2015

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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