By Allan Lengel
For 12 years, Allison Leotta, a Detroit area native and Michigan State University grad, worked as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, dealing with sex crimes and domestic violence.
These days, she’s a novelist, who writes with authority on crime.
Once described in the Providence Journal as the female John Grisham, Leotta on May 3 will officially release her fifth novel, “The Last Good Girl,” which deals with rape at a prestigious Michigan university named Tower University. Next week, she begins a book signing tour in Metro Detroit and northern Michigan
“There’s an epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses in America,” Leotta said Friday in a phone interview with Deadline Detroit. “One in five girls will be sexually assaulted before they graduate. What I try to do in this book is weave these shocking statistics into a compelling, fascinating thriller.”
A synopsis on her website describes the book:
Emily Shapiro has disappeared.
A freshman at a Michigan university, Emily was last seen leaving a college bar near Beta Psi, a prestigious and secretive fraternity. The main suspect is Dylan Highsmith, the son of one of the most powerful politicians in the state. At first, the only clue is pieced-together surveillance footage of Emily leaving the bar that night . . . and Dylan running down the street after her.
When prosecutor Anna Curtis discovers a video diary Emily kept during her first few months at college, it exposes the history Emily had with Dylan: she accused him of rape before disappearing. Anna is horrified to discover that Dylan’s frat is known on campus as “the rape factory.”
“A lot of people have told me this is my strongest and best book yet,” she says.
Leotta said some people have gotten hold of the book online before the official release, including women who have been sexually assaulted.
“The response from readers has been more emotional and stronger than anything else I’ve written,” she said.
A Harvard Law School graduate, she lives in suburban D.C. with her husband and two sons.