Allison Leotta is a former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., for 12 years, she specialized in prosecuting sex crimes, domestic violence, and crimes against children.
Now a popular author, Allison Leotta has been dubbed “the female John Grisham.” The Washington Post called her first book, Law of Attraction, “a racy legal thriller…taking on a still-taboo subject.” Recently, she released her sequel, Discretion: A Novel (Touchstone; July 2012), already hailed as a “first-rate thriller” by David Baldacci.
In her new book “Discretion,” an escort is killed at the U.S. Capitol after being pushed from an upper-level balcony.
Inspired by the D.C. Madam case, this classic “who done it” takes readers on an investigation through the halls of Congress, U.S. District Court, a madam’s mansion in Georgetown and the mean streets of the city. It follows a sex crimes prosecutor named Anna Curtis.
In her notes for the new book, Leoota writes:
“For twelve years, I prosecuted sex crimes, domestic violence, and other crimes as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. I saw the cases the press would glamorize – high-end escort services like the “D.C. Madam” and New York’s “Millionaire Madam.” But I also saw that both high-priced call girls and low-rent streetwalkers were among the most vulnerable of women to being raped, assaulted, and murdered. I wanted to understand the lives of these madams and their employees: why so many college girls choose such a high-risk route, the secret lives they have to juggle, the dangers they face every time they meet a client.
The case of the D.C. Madam particularly interested me. She operated a high-end escort service catering to politicians, diplomats, and wealthy businessmen in the nation’s capital. My office prosecuted and convicted her, but before she was sentenced, she committed suicide. There were plenty of people – wealthy, powerful men – with an incentive to shut her up. My sensible prosecutor side dismissed such speculation, but the crime novelist in me wondered if someone might have killed the madam, and how it might have been done.
About the same time, I visited the U.S. Capitol and walked through the Rotunda, where famous oil paintings of America’s birth cover the walls. In the paintings, hundreds of men are portrayed – but I saw only four women. Of the four, two are naked and on their knees. I started thinking about the sexual power dynamics that have surrounded our country from its founding, and which still surround us today. I started formulating the ideas that became DISCRETION: a novel. Those paintings in the Rotunda became part of my first chapter.
In researching the book, I was able to draw on my experiences working with sex workers within the criminal justice system – and former sex workers who now serve as victims’ advocates, helping others leave the business. I also spoke with additional law enforcement officials and social workers to view different angles of the sex trade. I was gratified by the candor with which people talked to me about the facts, the fantasies, and the fetishes that are serviced, and the methods that are employed in this often cut-throat business. In writing DISCRETION, my challenge wasn’t finding real-life material, but deciding how to explain details that might be shocking for readers to hear.”
Leotta’s blog, The Prime-Time Crime Review (where she dissects crime shows including L&O: SVU), has been named one of the best legal blogs in the country by the American Bar Association for two years in a row. www.allisonleotta.com.
Wednesday, July 25 – 28, 2012
Romance Writers of America Conference @ Anaheim Marriott
*Literacy signing on July 25 at 5pm-800pm and 830am Workshop on July 26
Thursday, July 26, 2012; 6:00 PM
Book Carnival (348 S. Tustin Avenue, Orange, CA 92866)DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.