Killer Smile (Rosato & Associates Series) by Lisa Scottoline
In this book, the protagonist, Mary DiNunzio, is a lawyer who was hired to get reparations for an Italian man who was placed in an American internment camp during WWII and ultimately committed suicide. The research in the case suddenly turns to murders, both old and new, and involve millions of dollars in illicit gains.
The truth is that I don’t usually read books like this. I don’t tend to like courtroom dramas because, as a lawyer, they seem very inauthentic to me, with no one caring about the rules of evidence, and with everyone being especially beautiful and brilliant and the good guys always carrying the day. I found this one at the library, and for some reason I picked it up. I liked it, enough to want to read more of Scottoline’s work.
Scottoline herself is a lawyer by training, which makes the courtroom scenes better, and her descriptions of life as a lawyer more realistic. You don’t deal with one case at a time. You don’t just go home at 5 pm. You worry about your clients like they are children. Sometimes the best thing to do is to step back and let your clients work out their own problems. So I appreciated that. Scottoline isn’t stupid, and doesn’t treat her readers like they are either.
Her women protagonists and co-stars are real people, with odd quirks, strengths and weaknesses. They look like real humans. They mess things up. They are allowed to be scared and insecure. One of the themes of the book is “If you can’t be brave, be determined” and, while I could argue that there isn’t really a difference, as being brave doesn’t mean being unafraid, it means being scared witless and doing it anyway, it is a good message nonetheless. It is ok to be a quaking bowl of jello on the inside. Just do what you need to do anyway.
One thing Scottoline is very good at, is something that many authors are not, and it is a pet peeve of mine. There is a rule in writing – if you put a gun on the mantelpiece in a scene, sometime later that gun needs to be fired. Red herrings are ok, but you can’t have irrelevant details or facts. Scottoline fires every single one of her guns, and that makes me happy.
In the end, it is still ‘just’ a courtroom drama/mystery to be solved, and in the end there are the kinds of happy coincidences that don’t usually happen in real life, but the book is fun, very enjoyable, and not predictable. Plus, it has female protagonists that are respectable and normal. There’s not enough of that.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.