Fresh Meat: Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline is the 13th book in the Rosato & Associates series featuring attorneys Bennie Rosato and Mary DiNunzio (available November 25, 2014).

You can listen to an exclusive audio excerpt below!

This installment in the series centers around attorney Judy Carrier, one of the lawyers working with Rosato and DiNunzio. Poor Judy is in a funk, and let’s face it, jealous of her best friend, Mary DiNunzio. Mary has just made partner at the firm, hence the new firm name “Rosato & DiNunzio.” Mary is also getting married, and involving Judy in all of the wedding plans, including making her the maid of honor. All of this probably would not be hitting Judy quite so hard if it weren’t for the fact that she is having problems and serious doubts about her current live-in boyfriend, Frank. He is just not proving to be marriage material and does not seem to be taking the relationship as seriously as Judy would like.

“Here’s my question,” Judy began to say, as she stuffed a sheet into the washing machine. Frank had gone upstairs to bed, and she was standing with Mary in the hallway that passed for a laundry room, because the washer-dryer could be covered by a louvered door. “Why can’t my boyfriend be as awesome as my girlfriend?”

“It’s the boy part.” Mary smiled, looking adorable in a Penn sweatshirt, jeans, and ponytail. She had on the tortoiseshell glasses she wore when she wasn’t at work, but she was even cuter in glasses than contacts, every inch The Girl Most Likely.

“No, I mean it.” Judy slammed the washer door closed, for emphasis. “You’re so awesome to show up on my doorstep, just when I’m feeling the worst ever. I can’t thank you enough for that.”

“Honey, you don’t have to thank me.”

“No, you’re amazing. You don’t even have to be asked, you just know what I need.” Judy cranked the dial on top of the washing machine to HEAVY LOAD, because even a single sheet overwhelmed the tiny washer-dryer. Or maybe she was feeling sorry for herself and suddenly everything seemed like a Heavy Load.

On the professional side, Judy always seems to clash with Bennie Rosato, which makes her prospects for becoming a partner difficult at best. Therefore, her jealously at Mary’s recent career move goes without saying. When Mary excitedly dumps a ton of cases in Judy’s lap, Mary honestly feels she is helping her friend. Unfortunately, the cases deal with an asbestos lawsuit and Judy’s client is the company who exposed everyone to the deadly substance. The company already lost the lawsuit and was held liable. Judy’s job would be to litigate all of the damages, fight for her client to pay as little money as possible to each Plaintiff. Not only does she think this is the wrong side to be on, but informs Mary that it is “Lawyer Hell.”

Judy steeled herself. “Bennie, I’m not sure we should take these cases. I want to talk it over with you.”

“What’s to talk about?” Bennie tossed over her shoulder. “Also, they’re paying us on a flat fee, not an hourly basis, which is typical for this work. Fifty grand a case is all we get. I figure each case is a three-to-five day trial, and if you staff it with a paralegal and Allegra, you can bring each case in at thirty-five grand. Make that happen, so we keep a profit margin.”

Mary interjected, “Bennie, I think Judy deserves a say—“

“Got it, Mary.” Judy waved her off, because it was time for her big-girl panties. “Bennie, before we even talk fees, this is such a big commitment of time that—“

“I know, I love it.” Bennie led them to the file room, opened the door, and flicked on the light, illuminating a grayish Formica counter on the rolling shelves of active case files beyond. “Marc said there were seventy-five or seventy-six different trials. That will take us two to three years down the line. Guaranteed billings every quarter, totaling 5.75 million. Wow!”

As her day just keeps getting worse, Judy gets a call from her Aunt Barb, Judy’s Mom’s sister, and one of Judy’s closest relatives. Barb tells Judy that she has breast cancer. She had been dealing with it on her own for some time and is scheduled for surgery in a few days, which is why she is just now letting the family know. Judy drops everything to drive out to her aunt’s house where her Mom has already arrived to show support. While visiting, Judy meets a woman named Iris. Iris has been her aunt’s maid and has clearly become a very good friend to her as well. Barb informs her family that Iris will be helping her during her post-op recovery, and therefore Judy and her mother’s help won’t be needed.

More Lisa Scottoline:

Accused

Keep Quiet

Don't Go

Judy’s Mom does not take this news very well, and Judy finds herself the middleman in their argument. Later that night, the police show up at Barb’s house to inform them that a woman was found dead in her car from a heart attack and Barb’s name and information were found as the woman’s emergency contact. Barb does not know the name they give her, but the more the police say, the more it dawns on all of them that the dead woman is Iris. Once the police leave, Barb begs Judy for her help, insisting that Iris had no heart issues and that her death does not make sense.

Judy hesitantly begins to investigate on her own, at first just to appease Barb. As she discovers more and more information, though, she realizes that Iris was involved with some dangerous people, and by asking questions, she has inserted herself into that same danger. At the same time, she has a hard time convincing the police that Iris’s death was anything but natural:

Suddenly, the door to the office opened, letting in a burst of crowd noise as Detective Boone entered the room carrying a sheaf of papers, but his demeanor had changed. His expression had snapped back into its official mask, his blue-eyed gaze had cooled and his thin lips formed an unsmiling, if professional, line. “You want facts? I have facts.”

“What?” Judy asked, intrigued.

“Iris Juarez died of natural causes. She had a heart attack. This is the pathologist’s report.” Detective Boones set down the sheaf of papers on the conference table. “I spoke with him and he emailed me a copy of his findings.”

Judy felt dumbfounded as she slid the papers over. Her eyes shot to the top line, which had a blank for Cause of Death and stated MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION. “oh no.”

“In law enforcement, we consider this good news. A natural death is better than murder, correct?” Detective Boone walked around the table, returned to his chair, and sat down, crossing his legs.

Lisa Scottoline’s Rosato & Associates series is great for many reasons. The first being that it is so much fun to see high powered and intelligent women lawyers go after the bad guys. I like that this book followed one specific lawyer and allowed you to get more of a feel for her character and her backstory. The plot was less courtroom and more personal investigation. Bennie and Mary were still there, but Judy Carrier really carried the book (no pun intended) and we found out a lot of information about her, including a surprise this reader was not expecting.

The witty dialogue between the characters is something that I enjoy, and the books in this series never disappoint. The characters continue to grow and each book is a fresh story with an intriguing plot. One of the hardest things to do, though, is to put the book down. As each chapter ends, I feel the need to find out more. “Just a few more pages” is what I keep telling myself, but I think it would be safer to block out enough time to just read all the way through. Either that or just be prepared to forego those little things in life that matter less than a good book … like sleep.

See more new releases at our Fresh Meat feature page.

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Kerry Hammond has been an avid mystery reader ever since she discovered Nancy Drew at the age of 8. She enjoys all types of stories, from thrillers to cozies to historical mysteries.

Read all posts by Kerry Hammond for Criminal Element.

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