Discretion (Anna Curtis Series #2)

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From former federal sex-crimes prosecutor and critically acclaimed author Allison Leotta— a new thriller exploring the intersection of sex and power in Washington, D.C.’s most secretive worlds

When a beautiful young woman plummets to her death from the balcony of the U.S. Capitol, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis is summoned to the scene. The evidence points to a sexual assault and murder. The victim is one of the city’s highest-paid escorts. And the balcony belongs to ...

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Discretion (Anna Curtis Series #2)

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Overview

From former federal sex-crimes prosecutor and critically acclaimed author Allison Leotta— a new thriller exploring the intersection of sex and power in Washington, D.C.’s most secretive worlds

When a beautiful young woman plummets to her death from the balcony of the U.S. Capitol, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis is summoned to the scene. The evidence points to a sexual assault and murder. The victim is one of the city’s highest-paid escorts. And the balcony belongs to Washington, D.C.’s sole representative to Congress, the most powerful figure in city politics.

The Congressman proclaims his innocence, but he’s in the middle of a tough primary fight, and the scandal could cost him the election. 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 Jack Bailey, the chief homicide prosecutor, is at a crossroads. Determined to gain respect in the office, Anna wants to keep their relationship under wraps. But the mounting pressure and media attention that come with the office’s most important case will inevitably expose their relationship—if it doesn’t destroy it first.

The investigation leads Anna to Discretion, a high-end escort service that caters to D.C.’s elite. But with each break in the case, the mystery deepens. And the further Anna ventures into D.C.’s red-light underworld, 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Leotta’s second legal thriller featuring D.C. sex crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis (after 2010’s Law of Attraction) adds nothing new to the murder and sex among the Washington elite subgenre popularized by writers like David Baldacci. When escort Caroline McBride plunges to her death from the third-floor balcony of longtime District representative Emmett Lionel’s Capitol office, Anna investigates. By creating a covert account on TrickAdviser.com, an escort resource Web site, Anna learns that the victim was “the most expensive call girl in D.C.” The high-profile case threatens to expose Anna’s discreet relationship with her office’s head of homicide, widower Jack Bailey. To complicate matters, Lionel invokes the obscure Speech and Debate Clause to limit searching of his office, while his legal and political advisers throw up further obstacles. Anna’s efforts to win over Jack’s hostile six-year-old daughter lend human interest. Those who can’t get enough of Washington scandal in their fiction will be most rewarded. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (July)
'
Named the Best Suspense Novel of the Year by Romance Reviews Today
From the Publisher
“Sex and politics collide in Discretion, an intriguing new thriller from Allison Leotta. Leotta, a federal former prosecutor, writes with authority and authenticity. Imagine one of the best episodes of the TV series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, but set in Washington, D.C., instead of New York City. Besides the realistic feel of the courtroom machinations, Leotta also takes readers on a journey inside the elite of Washington and the world of escort services.” —Associated Press
Library Journal
Caroline McBride, top escort for the Discretion agency, is tossed to her death from a Washington, DC, congressman's balcony. Anna Curtis, fresh out of Harvard Law and an assistant U.S. attorney specializing in sex crimes and domestic violence, is temporarily assigned to the homicide division, which makes her secret lover her new boss. FBI Special Agent Samantha Randozzo isn't keen on Anna's help, but they work together to bring Discretion's madam to court to compel her to reveal records that surely will affect many of Washington's elite, but then the madam is murdered. VERDICT Leotta, a Harvard Law grad and veteran of the same job as her heroine, movingly portrays the personal anguish and moral ambiguities surrounding the sex business. Like George Pelecanos, she knows well the underbelly of our nation's capital, although her social concerns sometimes intrude on an otherwise fast-paced and twisting plot. Legal thriller and romance novel blend well in this second thriller featuring Anna (Law of Attraction), and a third is on its way.—Roland C. Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Kirkus Reviews
Former federal prosecutor Leotta covers some familiar ground in her second legal thriller. Anna Curtis, the plucky blonde lawyer in the government's D.C. Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence Unit, surfaces for a second go-round with the capital city's seamier side following the murder of a high-price escort, which implicates a congressman. This time, Anna teams up with her boyfriend, head of the homicide division of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Jack Bailey, who is a widower with an adorable 6-year-old named Olivia. Jack and Anna have been seeing one another on the sly for about six months and living together in his suburban home. When escort Caroline McBride takes the plunge off D.C. Congressman Lionel's balcony at the Capitol, both Jack and Anna are called in. Jack requests Anna's assistance and soon she, along with feisty and somewhat combative FBI agent Samantha Randazzo, is hot on the trail of the city's top madam, who operates a high-priced and very hush-hush escort agency called Discretion. The agency caters to the city's powerful and wealthy, and soon, both Anna and Sam discover that some members of the agency's clientele might do anything to keep certain information about their activities from getting to the press. In addition to trying to solve Caroline's murder, Anna and Jack have reached a crisis point in their relationship, and the two try to work through their issues without letting them affect the case or their professional relationship. Leotta's writing has bumped up a notch since her first novel; this story's well-plotted, and although the outcome isn't nearly as surprising as it should be, it's much more believable. One drawback: The author describes in excruciating detail even the most minor characters, their wardrobes and the décor of the rooms they are in, which proves a major distraction from the action. Better editing could have made this memorable, but even with Leotta's tendency to provide character fashion reports on every page, this is worth the read.
Associated Press Staff
Praise for Discretion:

Named One of the Top Ten Best Books of 2012 by Strand Magazine

"Leotta, a federal former prosecutor, writes with authority and authenticity. Imagine one of the best episodes of the TV series, Law and Order: SVU but set in Washington, D.C., instead of New York City. Besides the realistic feel of the courtroom machinations, Leotta also takes readers on a journey inside the elite of Washington and the world of escort services."

David Baldacci
“A first-rate thriller. Leotta nails the trifecta of fiction: plot, pace and character. Ranks right up there with the wonderful Linda Fairstein.”
John Lescroart
“Allison Leotta scores big again with Discretion, her top-notch follow up to Law of Attraction. Smart and sexy, Discretion showcases Leotta’s rock-solid plotting as well as another star turn for her protagonist, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis. If you liked Law of Attraction—and who didn’t?—you’ll love this one!”
Douglas Preston
“The best legal thriller I’ve read this year, beautifully crafted and frighteningly real. Leotta knows her stuff cold and will bring you into a world of big money, corruption, high-end prostitution and murder. If you’re a fan of Grisham or Richard North Patterson, you simply have to buy this novel.”
Lisa Scottoline
“Fresh, fast, and addictive, and Allison Leotta's experience as a federal sex-crimes prosecutor shines through on every page. The result is a realistic legal thriller that's as fun to read as it is fascinating.”
George Pelecanos
“Allison Leotta is quickly making her place at the table of D.C.’s finest crime and legal thriller novelists. She’s an assured and authentic voice, and a highly entertaining storyteller. Discretion is another winner from this talented writer.”
Michael Palmer
“A terrific read. Slick, sexy, and very smart. Allison Leotta is a master at creating tension and then mercilessly tightening it. This is the kind of book I love to read, crafted by a wonderfully imaginative writer, who really knows what she is talking about. Allison Leotta is headed to the top of the heap.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451644845
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Series: Anna Curtis Series , #2
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Allison Leotta

Allison Leotta’s debut novel, Law of Attraction, was named one of the best legal thrillers of 2010 by Suspense Magazine. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., Leotta left the Department of Justice in 2011 to pursue writing fulltime. Visit AllisonLeotta.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Discretion


  • Even now, Caroline got nervous before every big job—and this was bigger than most. She knew how to smile past smirking hotel concierges and apartment-building doormen who deliberately looked the other way. The key was looking confident. But committing a crime in the U.S. Capitol was a different experience altogether.

She tried to radiate authority as she strode up the marble steps to the Capitol’s Senate carriage entrance. It helped that she was dolled up like a successful K Street lobbyist: ivory St. John suit, Manolo heels, hair painstakingly highlighted just the right shade of blond. Two men coming out of the portico murmured hello to her, and she smiled as if she greeted congressional staffers all the time. One staffer turned to watch her pass. His glance was appreciative but not shocked; she was young and beautiful, but she looked like she belonged in this world of high-octane political deal-making. Good.

She stepped out of the muggy August twilight and into the air-conditioned cool of the security vestibule. To calm herself, she concentrated on the feeling of lace garters skimming her thighs. This was one of the riskiest moments, so she arranged her face into its brightest smile.

“Hello.” She greeted the two Capitol Police officers with cool professionalism. “I have an appointment with Congressman Lionel.”

Her heart beat like hummingbird wings as she handed her ID to the officer sitting behind the counter. The guard just smiled as he cross-checked the ID against a paper on his clipboard. He scribbled something down and handed back her ID, along with a rectangular sticker that said VISITOR in red. “Just stick that on your suit, ma’am. Your escort will be right down.”

Caroline pressed the sticker onto her jacket as the second guard sent her Fendi bag through the X-ray machine. When she was on the other side of the metal detector, she took her purse off the belt—and exhaled.

She stood in the quiet entranceway, sensing the officers checking out her legs. The hallway was 1800s chic: mosaic floor, arched ceiling, black iron candelabras casting a golden glow on flesh-colored walls. She’d heard that the Capitol was one of the most haunted buildings in D.C., and she imagined the ghost of John Quincy Adams swirling through the corridor. Was it always so empty? This was a private back entrance reserved for congressmen, staffers, and VIP visitors who’d been pre-cleared. And it was almost eight P.M. on a Sunday. Most employees were home. Still, she wished it were busier.

A gangly young man rounded the corner. He wore an ill-fitting suit and sneakers, along with a smudge of tinted Clearasil on his temple. An intern. “Ms. McBride?”

“Yes.” Inwardly, she cringed at the sound of her real name, but she was an expert at keeping a serene face no matter what was in her head. Besides, the kid was harmless, in the way that only a young man wearing his first suit can be. His sleeves were too short, exposing two inches of pale, freckled wrists. He reminded Caroline of her little brother, whom she adored.

“I’m Chester! Congressman Lionel’s intern! I can take you up to his office!”

“Thank you.” She walked with him down the corridor.

“So what are you here to see the Congressman about?”

“Constituent services.” She smoothly changed tacks. “What do you do for the Congressman?”

Men—whatever their age—were always happy to talk about themselves. The intern enthusiastically described the process for answering congressional correspondence. “We can send sixty different form letters, depending on what a constituent asked about!”

He stopped for a breath as they entered the most beautiful corridor Caroline had ever seen. The hallway itself was a work of art.

“These are the Brumidi Corridors,” Chester said in an excited stage whisper. “Originally painted in the eighteen hundreds. Most tourists don’t get to see them.”

Every inch of wall and arched ceiling was covered in elaborate paintings of American history. Chester pointed to the figures of men sculpted into the railings of a bronze staircase. “The Founding Fathers.” He waved at a lunette painting above a wooden door. “The Goddess of War.” Despite herself, Caroline was impressed.

The clack of her heels echoed off the walls as they walked into a circular chamber, as large and ornate as a cathedral. She remembered coming here ten years ago, on a seventh-grade field trip. This was the Rotunda, the ceremonial heart of the Capitol. She recognized some of the iconic canvases: the Declaration of Independence, the Landing of Columbus. The domed ceiling, 180 feet above, was covered with The Apotheosis of Washington, a fresco painting of the first President depicted as a god among angels.

“Wow,” she whispered.

For the first time that night, Caroline had a real sense of the history of the place. It wasn’t some TV backdrop. So much had happened in this building, so many famous people had made world-changing decisions here. Who was she to be prancing through? She was a fraud.

Then she noticed the paintings of revolutionary America. Among hundreds of soldiers, explorers, and men in white wigs . . . she saw only four women. Of those, two were naked and on their knees.

She felt better. Some things never changed. She wasn’t a fraud—she was a constant.

Chester led her past a sign that said NO VISITORS BEYOND THIS POINT. They went up a series of curved staircases and down some empty white corridors, then stopped in front of an unlabeled door tucked around a corner.

“Here’s the Congressman’s hideaway!”

She had no idea what a hideaway was.

“His personal office,” the intern whispered. “A little oasis. Where he can get away from the hustle-bustle.”

There didn’t seem to be much hustle-bustle at this hour, but Caroline understood the precaution. Her prior appointments, at the Congressman’s regular office in the less glamorous Rayburn Office Building, had caused difficulties. She was glad for the privacy this place afforded.

Chester pushed the door open and gestured for Caroline to go in. He himself stood outside, as if fearful of crossing the threshold. The door clicked shut behind her.

The hideaway was quiet and unoccupied. It looked more like a sitting room in a nice hotel than an office. The walls were deep maroon; the floors were covered in Oriental rugs; a leather couch faced a white marble fireplace. Pictures of the Congressman in action crowded every horizontal surface. An antique desk in the corner seemed less a place to work than a space for displaying more photos.

A door at the back was open to a wide marble balcony overlooking the National Mall. Caroline’s breath caught. The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial were framed against a fiery sunset. It was a stunning view, better than a postcard.

A man stood on the balcony, his elbows resting on the railing, his back to her. The sunset threw his figure into dark silhouette.

She smoothed her skirt and ran a manicured hand through her hair. This was the part she liked best. She was good at it—great, to be honest. She had a talent for it like nothing else she’d ever tried. It gave her incredible satisfaction.

She smiled and walked out to meet him.

A woman’s scream pierced the stillness of the Capitol grounds.

Officer Jeff Cook was on patrol on the Capitol steps. He’d been a Capitol Police officer for twelve years, but he’d never heard a scream like that around here. He put a hand on his holster and turned toward the sound. His eyes flicked over the scenery until they identified the source of the scream. There—up the hill—the third-floor balcony of the Capitol’s south wing. A man and woman locked in a jerky dance. Cook couldn’t make out the people, but he knew the geography: That was Congressman Lionel’s hideaway.

The couple lurched left, then right. The woman shrieked again.

Then the man shoved her over the edge.

The woman seemed to fall in slow motion, emitting an operatic wail the whole way down. Arms flailed in graceful circles, legs kicked in lazy swings, as she dropped past marble flourishes and arched doorways.

A thud. And silence.

She’d landed on the marble terrace in front of the Capitol. Elegant for walking on, it was a disastrous place to fall. What would that slab of rock do to flesh and bones traveling at the speed of gravity?

Cook squinted back up at the balcony. The man was still up there; he peered over the balcony, then turned and disappeared inside.

Cook ran up the Capitol steps.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 12, 2012

    Excellent read! I'm always looking for a good pleasure book for

    Excellent read! I'm always looking for a good pleasure book for vacation, but I'm too picky to put up with poorly written or weakly plotted "brain candy" novels. Leotta, however, impressively crafts a great story with nuanced character development and enticing themes into a fast paced and expertly written suspense novel I couldn't put down. A perfect treat!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2012

    A great novel by a master of the genre. Leotta has written anot

    A great novel by a master of the genre. Leotta has written another incredible page-turner that I couldn't put down. I hope this emerging talent writes another edition in her series, soon!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Great reading. I Great read.

    Interesting characters. Waiting for the next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    Must read

    Love!!

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    Posted December 11, 2012

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    Posted October 3, 2013

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    Posted July 20, 2012

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