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03 November 2013

Lisa Scottoline: Accused: A Rosato & Associates Novel

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Rosato & DiNunzio Lawyers
I have read and enjoyed several books in Lisa Scottoline's Rosato & Associates series about an all female Philadelphia law firm and after a fairly long break was keen to read another book in the series. Mary DiNunzio has always been one of my favourite Associates because she is bright as a button but frequently lacking in self-confidence and closely tied to a strange but very loving Italian family.

Mary is no longer an Associate - she has become a partner in the firm with Bennie Rosato. Everyone at the partnership celebration is happy and Bennie wants to change the firm's name to "Rosato & DiNunzio", but Mary doesn't yet have the self-confidence to take that step. She is also worried that her live-in boyfriend, Anthony Rotunno may be getting a more serious about their relationship than she can cope with and is basically happy but surprisingly disturbed when Anthony gives her an engagement ring.

Mary's first client as a partner is Allegra Gardner, a daughter of a very rich Philadelphia family. Sounds easy doesn't it - until Mary finds that Allegra has just turned 13 and is using her Grandfather's trust money to hire a lawyer without family approval to investigate who killed her elder sister Fiona six years earlier. The other problem is that Lonnie Stall pleaded guilty and was imprisoned for the murder of Fiona. While Allegra is mega-intelligent, representing a minor without the support of her parents is a challenging task.

During the investigation Mary is challenged at every turn by Allegra's parents and has to use all of her skills and connections, including her loving but somewhat dysfunctional family and friends, to get close enough to the case to find out what really happened. At the same time in the background she has to face up to planning her forthcoming wedding which is being dominated by her difficult future mother-in-law, Elvira (who Mary nicknames "El Virus") .

I really enjoyed some of the earlier books in the series but this one focusses too much on the trivial especially when Mary's gets her family involved in Allegra's hobby of beekeeping to get contact with her family. Much is made of finding parking spots and buying doughnuts, the DiNunzio family friends ("Pigeon" Tony,Tony "From-down-the Block" and "Two-Feet" Pensiera), Anthony's mother Elvira ("El Virus") and  and of course the wedding plans.

I did enjoy the book but it lacked the courtroom dramas of other books in the series and as it progressed I felt sidetracked by the trivial so didn't enjoy it as much as some of the earlier ones featuring Mary DiNunzio.

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