Monday, January 19, 2015

Accused - Review

Review by Deb Czajkowski
Mary Dinunzio has just made partner at Rosato & Associates.  In fact, congratulatory toasts are still being made and cake is still being passed around when the receptionist interrupts the party to announce that Allegra Gardner is on her way up and is looking for representation.  Although Allegra herself is unknown to the firm and has no appointment, the celebration comes to an abrupt halt and the lawyers immediately transition into legal mode.
Allegra Gardner is thirteen years old and a member of the extremely wealthy and prestigious Gardner family.  She is also a certified genius whose only friends are the bees she keeps.  Allegra’s sister, Fiona, was murdered six years ago.  Allegra has always believed that the wrong man went to jail for this crime and, now that she has control of the trust fund her grandfather left her, she can hire a law firm to help her prove it.

Lonnie Stall was a server at the Gardners’ house the night Fiona was killed.  He was seen fleeing the scene, his blood was found on Fiona, and her blood was on him.  Later, he pleaded guilty to the crime.  It seemed to be an open-and-shut case.  Law enforcement and even Fiona’s parents were satisfied that justice had been served.

Allegra’s parents are fiercely fighting against reopening the case. Why would Mary Dinunzio take Allegra as her first official client as partner when she knows this means going up against the powerful Gardner family and fighting for a guy who admitted he committed the crime? Is Lonnie really guilty of killing Fiona?  Why does Allegra feel so strongly that Lonnie is innocent?

Author Lisa Scottoline pulled me into this drama right away with Mary’s likeable normalcy tucked into the very new partnership and then with Allegra’s clever quirkiness.  Two avenues kept me interested as the story progressed:  One, I wanted to believe with Allegra that Lonnie is innocent; two, I tend to root for underdogs, and Lisa gave me several.  While this book is of course a legal battle of lawyers and power, it is satisfyingly filled with wit, humor, and endearing people.  I recommend it for both reasons. Start your literary year with Lisa’s Accused.

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About the Author:
Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 22 novels, including her latest, Betrayed. She also writes a weekly column with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled "Chick Wit" which is a witty and fun take on life from a woman's perspective. These stories, along with many other never-before-published stories, have been collected in four books including their most recent, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, and the earlier, Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, which has been optioned for TV, and My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space. Lisa reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has served as President of Mystery Writers of America and has taught a course she developed, "Justice and Fiction" at The University of Pennsylvania Law School, her alma mater. Lisa is a regular and much sought after speaker at library and corporate events. Lisa has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

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