SPEAK OF THE DEVIL - Allison Leotta
Tierra Guerrero, an illegal immigrant working as a prostitute, is having sex with the brothel owner when the room is invaded by four men in trench coats carrying machetes. One man is carrying the decapitated head of the brothel's guard doorman; he looks like the devil.
As a detective with the Washington, D.C.'s Human Trafficking Task Force, Hector Ramos walks to the building as an undercover 'customer.' Outside a small boy warns him the devil is inside. He enters anyway. When he hears a woman screaming for help, he calls for backup and breaks through the door. One of the men raises his machete, and screaming curses in Spanish, attacks Hector. Hector shoots him. Two of the attackers escape, and one is caught with his pants down, literally. It seems the bordello owner had upset the notorious El Salvador MS-13 gang whose slogan is 'Kill, Rape, Control.' In the captured Hispanic man's pocket Hector finds a photo of his deceased partner, Nina Bailey.
Sex crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis proposes to Jack Bailey wanting to end their estrangement. Her relationship with the head of the homicide division has been on and off for some time, but she loves him. He says no, and then turns the table and proposes to her. She accepts. Then the case involving Tierra Guerrero drops into her lap. From uncooperative victims and witnesses and a vile defendant, the case grows to involve the FBI and comes to endanger Anna just like the case that led to the murder of Jack's wife's.
In this third Anna Curtis novel, the main characters are familiar. Anna is the dedicated attorney in love with a man with an adorable daughter and a dark past that haunts him. The crime's investigation and the criminals involved add suspense and danger, making the pace very fast and exciting. Some surprising twists crop up sure to keep anyone reading. It's a good thing Anna has friends and police officers ready to protect her. The loving relationship with her sister Jody adds appeal, but puts a worrisome note in the proceedings, as Jody's situation is similar to Anna's.
While the reader knows the setting is Washington, D.C., not too much time is describing the locale, but the story has a very real sense of place. Readers need not have read the first two novels in this series, as SPEAK OF THE DEVIL stands alone, but to understand the relationships involved, I'd recommend it. Besides, once you read this volume, you'll want to read the previous ones. SPEAK OF THE DEVIL is another well-written, tense novel to enthrall readers.