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ROUGH JUSTICE by Lisa Scottoline Kirkus Star


by Lisa Scottoline

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-018746-8
Publisher: HarperCollins

Scottoline clinches her title as the distaff Grisham with this gorgeously plotted novel based on a trial lawyer's worst nightmare. Minutes after her brilliantly successful homicide defense of Philadelphia slumlord Elliot Steere goes to the jury, Marta Richter hears from her client's own lips that he's guilty. He didn't shoot knife-wielding Heb Darnton in self-defense during a carjacking; instead, he killed him in cold blood, and everything he's told Marta--and Marta's persuaded the jury--is a lie. How can Marta get evidence against her own client before the jury comes in with the surefire acquittal? For one thing, she has to dig up a motive for wealthy, powerful Steere to kill a homeless nonentity, and to find the damning evidence against Steere before his mysterious girlfriend can destroy it. She has to dodge bullets from Steere's errand boy, Bobby Bogosian, during the worst blizzard in the city's history. She has to neutralize the jury, most of whom want to vote not guilty, and the judge, who's counting on the acquittal to leapfrog him into the state Supreme Court. And since she's a hired gun from outside the city, she has to do all this without awakening the suspicions of her local affiliates, Rosato & Associates ("Girls R' Us"), whose managing partner, Benedetta Rosato (Legal Tender, 1996), is so dedicated to the principle of client loyalty that she'll turn away arguments about Steere's guilt by asking, "What happens to the legal system if each lawyer makes his own judgments about a client's morality?" It's a good question, and if Scottoline doesn't exactly address it with the moral seriousness of Scott Turow, she provides nonstop thrills for Richter and Rosato & Associates as they race the clock, their client's goons, and each other to torpedo their own case. A hook as sturdy and a story as fleet as Grisham--except that Scottoline's a lot funnier than Grisham. Expect this to be her breakout book.