Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Review: The Last Good Girl by Allison Leotta

The Last Good Girl

Author: Allison Leotta
Publisher: Touchstone
Date of Publication: May 3, 2016
Pages: 304

     Allison Leotta is a former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. and for 12 years litigated cases involving sex crimes, domestic violence and crimes against children.  She utilizes all of this experience to bring an incredible plausibility to this well written novel.  This is the fifth in a series featuring fictional prosecutor Anna Curtis.  This is the first of this author's books which I have read (but it won't be the last).  

     Putting the spotlight on the issue of campus rape, Leotta tells the story of Emily Shapiro,  a freshman at a fictional large state university ("Tower University") in Michigan.  Emily's father happens to be the President of Tower U.  She disappears shortly after running into Dylan Brooks, an upperclassman whom she had accused of rape earlier in the school year.  Emily and Dylan have a heated exchange of words outside of an off-campus night spot which is captured by a surveillance camera.  This is the last time Emily was seen.  When her purse and cell phone are found at a nearby construction site, the police investigation is on.

     The author utilizes flashbacks to fill in the Emily-Dylan backstory, including transcripts of a "vlog" (video blog) which Emily kept for an English class.  This clever mechanism allows the author to explore Emily's thought processes while she is missing.

    This book has many strengths.  The characters are all interesting and most are sympathetic.  You can't help but dislike Dylan, but every story needs a villain.  The action is fast paced and keeps you turning the pages.  I found the sub-plot of Anna's former and present romantic interests a bit distracting, but it did blend in a bit more tension.  The author has effectively used this novel to very thoroughly explore the problem of sexual assault on college campuses.  The propensity for universities to cover up these incidents is examined on many levels.  The administrators (in this case, the father of the victim) must play the politics of balancing Title IX compliance with the truth as well as insuring student safety while presenting a rosy picture to alumni and deep pocket donors.

     I highly recommend this book and look forward to exploring the author's catalogue further. 

No comments:

Post a Comment