My rating: 4.5 Stars
In this fourth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio series, Mary DiNunzio's fiancé is away while she is rushing to prepare for their wedding, which is just two weeks away. Meanwhile, Mary takes on the case of ten-year-old Patrick O'Brien, a child with dyslexia. Due to this he has because the awful victim of bullies. He is then accused of attacking a teacher's aide. The teacher then quits and promptly sues Patrick, his grandfather, Edward, and the school district. The case goes much further as it is soon learned that Patrick was grossly abused by the teacher.
It takes only a second, but Mary falls hard for Patrick. She will go to any means necessary to protect him, even at the cost of her relationship with her fiancé. Patrick's problems go far deeper than his dyslexia, but this does not stop Mary when it comes to what she is striving to do for him. This puts lives in danger, including Mary's.
I have the sixth book in the series, Feared, for review for NetGalley. Since I always make the habit of reading entire series, I purchased the first five books, and have now read the previous three titles. By now, or almost right away, actually, I became drawn to Mary and her legal team. As in the first book of this series, Accused, it is one of Mary's cases that is highlighted. Mary is a strong favorite legal heroine to me. She is powerful, loving and dedicated to her clients. Never more so is this the case with her relationship with Patrick.
Damaged is a well-written, engaging read with a very interesting storyline as it deals with how a dyslexic child got lost in the system and this played a big role in tragically affecting his life. For more than one reason, Mary got very involved. I couldn't help but be drawn into this story. There are twists and turns throughout the book - some that left me angered, saddened and on the edge of my seat. The author, Lisa Scottoline is a lawyer. Along with her expertise in that field, it is quite apparent that she has done extensive research when dealing with the subject matter in this book. Also, as always with this series, favorite characters abound, making this a delightful read. I definitely look forward to continuing on in this series.
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Mary DiNunzio hurried down the pavement, late to work because she’d had to stop by their new caterer and try crabmeat dumplings with Asian pears. Her stomach grumbled, unaccustomed to shellfish for breakfast, much less pears of any ethnicity. Her wedding was only two weeks away, and their first caterer had gone bankrupt, keeping their deposit and requiring her to pick a new menu. She had approved the mediocre crabmeat dumplings, proof that her standards for her wedding had started at Everything Must Be Perfect, declined to Good Enough, and ended at Whatever, I Do.
It was early October in Philly, unjustifiably humid, and everyone sweated as they hustled to work. Businesspeople flowed around her, plugged into earbuds and reading their phone screens, but Mary didn’t need an electronic device to be distracted, she had her regrets. She’d made some stupid decisions in her life, but by far the stupidest was not using a wedding planner. She earned enough money to hire one, but she’d thought she could do it herself. She’d figured it wasn’t rocket science and she had a law degree, which should count for more than the ability to sue the first caterer for free.
Mary didn’t know what she’d been thinking. She was a partner at Rosato & DiNunzio, so she was already working too hard to take a honeymoon, plus it was a second job to manage her wacky family in full-blown premarital frenzy. Her fiancé Anthony was away, leaving her to deal with her soon-to-be mother-in-law Elvira, or El Virus. Meanwhile, tonight was the final fitting for her dress and tomorrow night was her hair-and-makeup trial. She was beginning to think of her entire wedding as a trial, a notion she hated despite the fact that she was a trial lawyer. Maybe she needed a new job, too.
Mary kicked herself as she walked along, a skill not easily performed by anyone but a Guilt Professional. She had no idea why she always thought she should do everything herself. She only ended up stressed-out, every time. She was forever trying to prove something, but she didn’t know what or to whom. She felt like she’d been in a constant state of performance since the day she was born, and she didn’t know when the show would be over. Maybe when she was married. Or dead.
She reached her office building, went through the revolving door, and crossed the air-conditioned lobby, smiling for the security guard. The elevator was standing open and empty, so she climbed inside, pushed the UP button, and put on her game face. She was running fifteen minutes late for her first client, which only added to her burden of guilt, since she hated to be late for anything or anyone.
Mary’s friends knew that if she was fifteen minutes late, she must have been abducted.
She checked her appearance in the stainless-steel doors, like a corporate mirror. Her reflection was blurry, but she could see the worry lines in her forehead, and her dark blonde hair was swept back into a low ponytail because she didn’t have time to blow it dry. Her contacts were glued to her eyes since she’d spent the night emailing wedding guests who hadn’t RSVP’d, which was almost everyone. She had on a fitted navy dress and she was even wearing pantyhose, which qualified as dressed up at Rosato & DiNunzio.
Mary watched impatiently as the floor numbers changed. Her legal practice was general, which meant she handled a variety of cases, mostly state-court matters for low damages, and her client base came from the middle-class families and small businesses of South Philly, where she’d grown up. She wasn’t one of those lawyers who got their self-esteem from handling big, federal-court cases for Fortune 500 clients. Not that she got her self-esteem from within.
Mary was the Neighborhood Girl Who Made Good, so she got her self-esteem from being universally beloved, which was why she was never, ever late. Until now.
“Hi, Marshall!” Mary called out to the receptionist, as soon as the elevator doors opened. She glanced around the waiting room, which was empty, and hurried to the reception desk. Marshall Trow was more the firm’s Earth Goddess than its receptionist, dressing the part in her flowing boho dress, long brown braid, and pretty, wholesome features, devoid of makeup. Marshall’s demeanor was straight-up Namaste, which was probably a job requirement for working for lawyers.
“Good morning.” Marshall smiled as Mary approached. “Where’s O’Brien? Is he here already? Did you get my text?” “Yes, and don’t worry. I put him in conference room C with fresh coffee and muffins.”
“Thank you so much.” Mary breathed a relieved sigh.
“I chatted with him briefly. He found you from our website, you know. He’s an older man, maybe in his seventies. He seems very nice. Quiet.”
“Good. I don’t even know what the case is about. He didn’t want to talk about it over the phone.”
Marshall lifted an eyebrow. “Then you don’t know who your opposing counsel is?”
“No, who?” Mary was just about to leave the desk, but stopped. “Nick Machiavelli.”
“Machiavelli! The Dark Prince of South Philly.” Mary felt her competitive juices flowing. “I always wanted a case against him.” “Machiavelli can’t be his real name, can it? That has to be fake.” “Yes, it’s his real name, I know him from high school. His family claims to be direct descendants of the real Machiavelli. That’s the part that’s fake. His father owns a body shop.” Mary thought back. “I went to Goretti, a girl’s school, and he went to Neumann, our brother school. We didn’t have classes with the boys, but I remember him from the dances. He was so slick, a BS artist, even then.”
“Is he a good lawyer?” Marshall handed Mary a few phone messages and a stack of morning mail.
“Honestly, yes.” Mary had watched Machiavelli build a booming practice the same way she had, drawing from South Philly. The stories about his legal prowess were legendary, though they were exaggerated by his public relations firm. In high school, he had been voted Class President, Prom King, and Most Likely to Succeed because he was cunning, handsome, and basically, Machiavellian.
“Thanks.” Mary took off down the hallway, with one stop to make before her office. Her gut churned, but it could have been the dumplings. The real Niccolo Machiavelli had thought it was better to be feared than loved, and his alleged descendant followed suit. Nick Machiavelli was feared, not loved, and on the other hand, Mary was loved, but not feared. She always knew that one day they would meet in a battle, and that when they did, it would be a fight between good and evil, with billable hours.
Mary reached her best friend Judy’s office, where she ducked inside and set down a foam container of leftover dumplings amid the happy clutter on the desk. Judy Carrier was one of those people who could eat constantly and never gain weight, like a mythical beast or maybe a girl unicorn.
“Good morning!” Judy looked up from her laptop with a broad grin. She had a space between her two front teeth that she made look adorable. Her cheery face was as round as the sun, with punky blonde hair framing her pretty face, with large blue eyes and a turned-up nose. Judy was the firm’s legal genius, though she dressed artsy, like today she had on a boxy hot pink T-shirt with yellow shorts and orange Crocs covered by stuck-on multicolored daisies.
“Please tell me that you’re not going to court dressed like that.”
“I’m not, but I think I look cute.” Judy reached for the container. “What did you bring me? Spring rolls? Spanakopita?”
“Guess what, I have a new case—against Nick Machiavelli.”
“Ha! That name cracks me up every time I hear it. What a fraud.” Judy’s blue eyes lit up as she opened the lid of the container.
“I’m finally going up against him.”
“You’ll kick his ass.” Judy opened the drawer that contained her secret stash of plastic forks.
“Don’t underestimate him.”
“I’m not, but you’re better.” Judy got a fork and shut the drawer. “What kind of case is it?”
“I don’t know yet. The client’s in the conference room.”
“Meanwhile, I thought you were going vegetarian.” Judy frowned at the dumplings. “This smells like crabmeat. Crabmeat isn’t vegetarian.”
“It’s vegetarian enough,” Mary said on her way out. “I gotta go.” “There’s no such thing as vegetarian enough!”
Mary hurried to her office, dumped her purse, mail, and messenger bag inside, grabbed her laptop, and hustled to conference room C.
Lisa loves to hear from you, her readers, and what she has learned from the emails, besides the fact that her name is really hard for people to pronounce, is that you want to know more. You are not just satisfied to read the book and move on. You want to connect with Lisa and you want to be informed readers. Nothing makes Lisa happier.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lisa’s books have solidly landed on all the major bestseller lists including The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, and LOOK AGAIN was named “One of the Best Novels of the Year” by The Washington Post, and one of the best books in the world as part of World Book Night 2013. Lisa’s novels are known for their emotionality and their warm and down-to-earth characters, which resonate with readers and reviewers long after they have finished the books. When writing about Lisa’s Rosato & Associates series, Janet Maslin of The New York Times applauds Lisa’s books as “punchy, wisecracking thrillers” whose “characters are earthy, fun and self-deprecating” and distinguishes her as having “one of the best-branded franchise styles in current crime writing.”
Lisa’s contributions through her writing has been recognized by organizations throughout the country. She is the recipient of the Edgar Award, the Mystery Writer’s of America most prestigious honor, the Fun, Fearless, Fiction Award by Cosmopolitan Magazine, and named a PW Innovator by Publisher’s Weekly. Lisa was honored with AudioFile’s Earphones Award and named Voice of the Year for her recording of her non-fiction book, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog. Each follow up collection, including the most recent, Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?, has garnered both Lisa and her daughter, Francesca, Earphones Awards as well. In addition, she has been honored with a Distinguished Author Award from Scranton University, and a “Paving the Way” award from the University of Pennsylvania, Women in Business.
Lisa’s accomplishments all pale in comparison to what she considers her greatest achievement, raising, as a single mom, her beautiful (a completely unbiased opinion) daughter, an honors graduate of Harvard, New York Times bestselling author, and columnist, who is currently working on her first novel.
Lisa believes in writing what you know, and she puts so much of herself into her books. What you may or may not learn about Lisa from her books is that she is an incredibly generous person, an engaging and entertaining speaker, a die-hard Eagles fan, a good cook, and a vegetarian. She loves the color pink, has an incredible design sense, has recently taken up gardening and golf, and her musical taste includes everything from U2 to Sinatra to 50 Cent, she is proud to be an American, and nothing makes her happier than spending time with her daughter.
Lisa is also a regular softie when it comes to her furry family. Nothing can turn Lisa from a professional, career-minded author, to a mushy, sweet-talking, ball-throwing woman like her beloved dogs. Although she has owned and loves various dog breeds, including her amazing goldens, she has gone crazy for her collection of King Charles Spaniels. Lisa first fell in love with the breed when Francesca added her Blehneim Cavalier, Pip, to the mix. This prompted Lisa to get her own, and she started with the adorable, if not anatomically incorrect (Lisa wrote a “Chick Wit” column about this), Little Tony, her first male dog. Little Tony is a black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. But, Lisa couldn’t stop at just one, and soon added her little Peach, a Blehneim King Charles Cavalier.