When one of Washington, D.C.'s highest-paid escorts is
found dead on Capitol Hill, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna
Curtis of the Sex Crimes division comes on to the case.
One of the only clues is a business card for the dead
escort's agency, Discretion. The madam of Discretion is
bound and determined to live up to her agency's name; the
lead suspect is a senator who has issues with the
political actions inherent in a murder case. As it
unfolds, the case involves more and more legislators,
attorneys, prostitutes, and madams who all make their
lascivious livings in D.C. At the same time, Anna must
juggle her personal concerns, as her relationship with
homicide prosecutor Jack Bailey is in great danger and
she has to deal with Samantha, an FBI agent who really
doesn't want her around. We go from the glamorous and
high-end world of the most dramatic madam in all of
Washington to the dark and seedy underbelly of the red-
light world, all along with Anna and Samantha and Jack
leading the way.
DISCRETION is labeled as a legal thriller, but I
really didn't find it all that thrilling. The switching
perspectives between the main characters and the side
characters really jar the narrative. It can be difficult
to balance growing suspense and constant point of view
shifts, and in my opinion this book does not succeed in
the attempt. I am so distracted by trying to shift to
various mindsets that I can't truly immerse myself in the
drama or in the legal details.
On top of that, most of the characters are
flat. With the exception of Anna Curtis and at times Jack
Bailey, every character has such limited development that
in the end I didn't really care what happened to most of
them. Sam, the FBI agent, is a hateful harpy at one moment
and warm-hearted-family-girl with a sense of humor in the
next. The politicians are caricatures whose behavior is
predictable. This is a mystery novel in which the mystery
takes a backseat to attempted character development which
just falls short of what it needs to be.
I am also greatly bothered by the relationship
between Annie Curtis and Jack Bailey. Anna is younger and
not ready for commitment; Jack is an older single dad who
doesn't want to adjust his life to make Anna more
comfortable with the relationship. While this dynamic on
its own is not unappealing to me, it is clear that Jack
is an inconsiderate and immature man who throws
everything he has away when things don't go his way.
Every time they got into a conflict, or any time Jack
used his age or position to lord it over Anna, I just
wanted to get her out of there. A realistic relationship
cannot develop when one party is too immature to handle
it; when neither party knows what they're doing it can be
Having said all that, there is one really great
factor in this book which kept me reading through to the
end. The legal and forensic details are amazing and
fascinating. Leotta really knows her stuff when it comes
to criminal law and the legal aspects. As a former sex-
crimes prosecutor herself, you know that she has a great
deal of experience and resources behind her and it shows.
She has the sharpness and accuracy in every action taken
by her characters. The crime is really the star of the
show; all forensic information is not only correct but it
helps to build the plot. Even if you can spot the true
criminal as early as I did, watching the mystery unfold
is really fun.
In short, I would not pick this book up again. I
would certainly give another of Leotta's books a try, but
DISCRETION just falls flat for me in more ways than one.
It was certainly worth a first read through. When the mystery
a mystery novel gets
less focus than a relationship which makes me very
uncomfortable to begin with, there is something missing.
I would recommend this to anyone fascinated with forensic
details and a little CSI bashing, but if you're looking
for a satisfying mystery, leave DISCRETION alone.
For fans of Lisa Scottoline and Law and Order: SVU, former
federal sex-crimes prosecutor Allison Leotta’s novel
explores the intersection of sex and power as Anna Curtis
investigates the murder of one of DC’s highest-paid escorts.
When a beautiful young woman plummets to her death from the
balcony of the US Capitol, Assistant US Attorney Anna Curtis
is summoned to the scene. The victim is one of the city’s
highest-paid escorts. And the balcony belongs to
Washington’s sole representative to Congress, the most
powerful figure in city politics.
For Anna, the high-profile case is an opportunity. But as
the political stakes rise, she realizes that a single
mistake could end her career. At the same time, her budding
romance with the chief homicide prosecutor is at a
crossroads. Determined to gain respect in the office, Anna
wants to keep their relationship a secret. But the mounting
pressure and media attention that come with this case will
inevitably expose their relationship—if it doesn’t destroy
it first. And the further Anna’s investigation takes her,
the larger the target on her own back.
From the secret social clubs where Washington’s most
powerful men escape from public view to the asphalt “track”
where the city’s most vulnerable women work the streets,
Discretion is a gripping exploration of sex, power, and the
secrets we all keep.