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Author Leotta returns with new legal thriller

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‘Speak of the Devil' Author: Allison Leotta Pub- lisher: Touch- stone, $25, 288 pages

By Jeff Ayers
Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Allison Leotta's latest novel, “Speak of the Devil,” pits prosecutor Anna Curtis against Diablo, a villain believed to be the devil himself.

Diablo and his gang attack a brothel, and a doorman ends up missing his head. Curtis soon discovers evidence of a human trafficking ring, with Diablo's gang at its heart. Witnesses are too terrified to testify, and people who own businesses in the area controlled by the gang refuse to talk.

Although Curtis has her hands full trying to build a case, her personal life couldn't be better. She's engaged to Jack Bailey, who works in her office. Members of the same gang murdered Bailey's wife years earlier, and he wants Curtis to help him destroy them.

Then Diablo decides Curtis is stirring up things too much and puts a hit on her and everyone she loves.

Leotta, a former federal sex-crimes prosecutor, has the background to make “Speak of the Devil” seem authentic. She also keeps the story line moving without delving too much into the minutia of how the office runs on a daily basis.

And with the focus on the characters rather than on courtroom proceedings, the novel works quite well.

Jeff Ayers is a staff writer for the Associated Press.

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