Thank you NetGalley and Touchstone for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Synopsis: Emma a freshman at a Michigan university, has gone missing. She was last seen leaving a bar near Sigma Pi, the prestigious and secretive fraternity known on campus as “the rape factory”. The main suspect is Dylan Brooks, the son of the most powerful politician in the state. But so far the only clues are pieced-together surveillance footage of Emma leaving the bar that night…and Dylan running after her.
Anna Curtis is on the car when she discovers the video diary Emma kept over her first few month of college, exposing the history she had with Dylan–and accusing him of rape before she disappeared.
Emma’s disappearance gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna’s investigation hits a wall. Now Anna is looking for something, anything she can use to find Emma alive. But without a body or any physical evidence, she’s under threat from people who tell her to thin hard before she ruins the name of an “innocent young man”. Inspired by real-life stories, The Last Good Girl shines a light on campus rape and the powerful emotional dynamics that affect the families of the men and women on both sides.
After requesting this book from NetGalley I did some research and discovered that the story is loosely based on actual events which took place at a Connecticut college. I also found out that Allison Leotta used to be a federal prosecutor of sex crimes, which got me really excited because while The Last Good Girl is technically fiction, it’s written by someone who’s been at the front lines of this continuing battle. I don’t know how things are in other countries, but here in the U.S. campus rape is a huge problem at colleges and universities despite legal protections like Title IX which forbids sex-based discrimination in education having been put into place. Cable news channel CNN aired The Hunting Ground last year which examined the “rape culture” on campuses and Lady Gaga and Diane Warren co-wrote the Oscar nominated song “Til It Happens To You” for the documentary. While people and politicians argue over how prevalent campus rape actually is, and whether colleges are doing enough to protect their students, one thing is abundantly clear: one rape is too many! I’m going to be honest here and admit that I’m fairly passionate about this topic because when I was in college a little over a decade ago a friend of mine was given the date rape drug Rohypnol and sexually assaulted after attending a party. The perpetrators were never enough to justice and after a few months she quit school. Sadly, this isn’t one of this those stories that are one in a million. So, back to this incredibly well-written story. It alternates between Anna’s third person perspective and video logs Emma had made stating everything that happened to her. This was sheer genius because you “see” Emma’s excruciating ordeal up until her disappearance, while at the same time you watch the U.S. federal prosecutor Anna Curtis and FBI agent Samantha Randazzo do everything they can to uncover the truth and hopefully save Emily. All of the characters are really strong here, but Emily is the one who really stands out. This girl refuses to be a victim and never backs down from trying to have her attacker brought to justice. If I have one criticism it’s that I did think the response of the college authorities, particularly Emily’s father who is the president, was a tiny bit over-the-top. Part of the real life problem is school officials unwillingness to do anything, but there are also plenty of schools now that do take action. The ending was a complete shock to me and to be honest I’m not sure how I feel about it. It was unexpected that’s for sure. It’s obvious that Allison Leotta makes good use of her knowledge and legal expertise in crafting this tightly woven legal thriller. The Last Good Girl is a chilling and brutal tale that will keep you glued to its pages right up until the end. It’s definitely made me want to go back and read the previous books in the Anna Curtis series.