Dead Ringer (Rosato & Associates Series #8)

Dead Ringer (Rosato & Associates Series #8)

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by Lisa Scottoline
     
 

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Philadelphia attorney Bennie Rosato has her eye focused firmly on the bottom line, and she takes a professional risk when she charges into a class action lawsuit that could make -- or break -- her career.

Then her wallet goes missing. And Bennie's life goes crazy. Someone posing as the outspoken, blue-eyed, blond attorney is wreaking havoc around town, apparently

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Overview

Philadelphia attorney Bennie Rosato has her eye focused firmly on the bottom line, and she takes a professional risk when she charges into a class action lawsuit that could make -- or break -- her career.

Then her wallet goes missing. And Bennie's life goes crazy. Someone posing as the outspoken, blue-eyed, blond attorney is wreaking havoc around town, apparently determined to destroy everything Bennie loves.

When events escalate into murder, the maverick lawyer realizes that the stakes are far greater than she feared. But Bennie Rosato refuses to be anyone's victim. To find the killer, she'll plunge headfirst into a life-and-death investigation that will bring her face-to-face with evil darker yet more familiar than anything before.

With Dead Ringer, Lisa Scottoline delivers a tour de force that is not to be missed.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Another bestseller is on the docket for Scottoline (Courting Trouble; Rough Justice; The Vendetta Defense), with a new legal caper featuring the lady lawyers of series heroine Bennie Rosato's Philadelphia law firm, Rosato and Associates. This time out it's Bennie playing the lead role, as she fights to save her financially sinking firm; mother her lovable partners, Mary DiNunzio and Judy Carrier; solve the murder of a valuable client; and battle her evil twin, Alice. The eviction notice is on the door when suave Frenchman Robert St. Amien steps in with a class-action suit that promises not only to stave off Bennie's landlord but to shovel millions of dollars into the firm's bottomed-out bank account. The fact that our heroine has never handled a class-action suit doesn't faze her for more than a nanosecond. Bennie has her wallet stolen and soon becomes the target of increasingly sinister attacks, until it becomes clear that Alice (last seen in Mistaken Identity) is back in town and bent on revenge. When the stakes are upped to murder, Bennie realizes she's in big trouble. Fortunately, hunky SEAL David Holland shows up to save her dog, act as bodyguard and supply the love interest. Of course, he has a dark secret, but this just makes him more appealing and sympathetic when it is revealed. Occasional awkward writing intrudes ("Anger bubbled like lifeblood to her cheeks"), there are too many pantyhose jokes, and the solution to the mystery is a clunker, but readers caught up in the fast and furious wordplay will hardly notice. Bennie grows on you, and soon enough you're rooting for the home team and laughing at her corny jokes. Mystery Guild and Literary Guild main selection; Doubleday Book Club, BOMC and QPB alternate; Costco's June Book Club selection; 9-city author tour. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
One's a lawyer, the other's an ex-convict, and, of course, they're twin sisters. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Philadelphia attorney Bennie Rosato faces bankruptcy, infighting, stalking, and identity theft, at least two of them courtesy of her evil twin. It’s been only a matter of time before unloved, abandoned Alice Connelly (Mistaken Identity, 1999), returned to wreak havoc on her more successful sibling. But now is a particularly bad time, since Bennie’s up to her briefs in trouble. The client whose victory she was counting on to pay her bills has declared bankruptcy; her associate Mary DiNunzio wants pro bono time to file a suit against the US government on behalf of a late family friend interned, along with 10,000 other Italian-Americans, during WWII; a huge class-action suit that’s dropped onto her plate despite Rosato & Associates’ lack of experience in the area promises huge rewards, but only if she can survive the challenges of Bill Linette, the shark determined to steal her role as lead attorney in the case; and as she’s discussing the case with her client, the cops arrest her for larceny and assault. When Bennie’s state of alert, in permanent crisis mode during the best of times, is bumped up to red by a murder that strikes unexpectedly close to home, she can’t help wondering whether Alice has turned up the volume still again. But there are plenty of other suspects, from the mystery man who popped up just in time to rescue Bennie’s dog from his own brush with death to a whole town full of Philadelphia lawyers. Less synthetic than the last outing for Rosato & Associates, but just as fast-moving: a salute to heroines who’ve sworn off swearing but are "tired of saying damn all the time. It just didn’t go far enough." Author tour. Agent: Molly Friedrich

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060545444
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/07/2003
Series:
Rosato & Associates Series, #8
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Pages:
576
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.06(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Dead Ringer

Chapter One

Bennie Rosato had waited for more than a hundred jury verdicts in her career, but the waiting never got easier. The courtroom was empty, the air still. Bennie could hear the clock ticking on the paneled wall, but it could have been her sense of drama. She was sitting next to her client, Ray Finalil, who was gnawing his cuticles. If they lost this trial, Ray's company would have to pay three million dollars in damages. Three million bucks buys a lot of cuticles.

Bennie set aside her own case of nerves to cheer him up. "Yo, Ray. How do you stop a lawyer from drowning?"

"How?"

"Take your foot off his head."

Ray didn't smile. His gaze remained fixed on the vacant jury box, with its black leather chairs swiveled in different directions. The jury had been charged on the law this morning and they'd been out deliberating all day. That meant Ray and Bennie were entering their sixth hour of small talk. To Bennie, that was as good as married.

"Okay, no more jokes," she said. "Tell me about your son's baseball game. I'll pretend I don't know about the home run or the catch at third base."

"Second base."

"See?"

Ray's chin dropped to his hand. His brown eyes were bloodshot from three weeks of sleepless nights and his cheeks hollow from the ten pounds he'd shed during the trial, even though he was completely innocent. Being a defendant was no-win; if you lost, you paid the plaintiff, and if you won, you paid your lawyer. This was known as the American Rule. Only Americans tolerate law without justice.

"Look, Ray, we don't have to stay here. I have my cell phone, and the deputy clerk has my number. How about we take a field trip? We can go see the Liberty Bell. It's only a block away."

"No."

"This land is your land, Ray. This land is my land."

"No."

"Come on, it'll do you good to go out and walk around." Bennie rose, stretched, and took a personal inventory. She thought she was good-looking for a lawyer, even though she stood six feet tall and her proportions were positively Amazonian. Her khaki suit was still pressed and her white Gap shirt fairly clean. Her long, disobedient blond hair had been piled into a twist with a tortoiseshell barrette, but no makeup maximized the blue of her eyes or minimized the crow's-feet at their corners. An old boyfriend had told her that her mouth was generous, but she suspected it was a sneaky way of saying she had a big mouth. At the moment, it was shaped into a sympathetic frown. "You don't wanna take a walk?"

"When do you think they'll come back?" Ray didn't have to explain who "they" were. The jury.

"End of today." Bennie sat back down. At least the stretch had shaken off some of her stress. She couldn't remember the last time she'd exercised. This trial had consumed every available minute for the past two months, but her law firm needed the dough. The slump in the economy had hit lawyers, too, and people had stopped suing each other. Could world peace be far behind?

"I can't take another day of this. You sure they'll come back today?"

"Positive. This is a simple fraud case, in federal court only through the miracle of diversity jurisdiction. And Thursday is a good day for juries to go out. They get it over with if they come back today, then they go home and make it a three-day weekend. They won't go to work on a Friday after jury duty."

"How do you know?"

"Trial wisdom. The elders pass it down in a secret ceremony. We call it the bar exam to fool gringos like you."

"But what are they doing in there for so long?" Ray rubbed his forehead with leftover fingernails. He looked older than his fifty-one years, and oddly, he'd become more nervous as the trial wore on, not less. Ray wasn't a lover or a fighter. He was an accountant.

"A day is nothing. We just had a fifteen-day trial with one hundred twenty-six exhibits and twenty-eight witnesses. You want them back sooner?" Bennie pointed to the empty jury box. "Keep watching those chairs. It works every time."

Suddenly, the paneled door next to the dais opened and the deputy clerk entered. He was tall and fit, and his polyester blazer made an officially swishy sound when he walked. When Bennie realized he was heading for her, she rose. "They back?" she asked, her heart beginning to thump, but the deputy clerk shook his head.

"They got a question. They sent a note. Court's in session in five minutes. Plaintiff still in the attorney's conference room?"

"Yes," Bennie answered, and as soon as the deputy clerk took off down the aisle, Ray jumped up and clutched her sleeve.

"What does he mean, a question? The jury has a question? What question?"

"Relax. Sit down." Bennie unpeeled Ray's fingers and eased him down into his chair. "The judge is coming out to read us the question. Then we -- "

"A question? How typical is that? I don't understand. What does he mean, a question?"

"It happens from time to time. The jury sends the judge a question about the evidence or the law. It's nothing to be -- "

"I mean, what do they have to know?" Ray raked his free hand through his thinning hair. At the beginning of this trial he had looked like a Chia Pet. Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration. "Who said they could ask questions? Why do they get to ask questions?"

"Because this is America. Now stay cool. Curtain's up." Bennie gestured behind him, where the courtroom had come abruptly to life ...

Dead Ringer. Copyright © by Lisa Scottoline. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling author and serves as president of the Mystery Writers of America. She has won the Edgar Award, as well as many other writing awards. She also writes a Sunday humor column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, titled "Chick Wit," with her daughter, Francesca Serritella. There are thirty million copies of Lisa's books in print, and she has been published in thirty-two countries. She lives in Pennsylvania with an array of disobedient but adorable pets.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of Birth:
July 1, 1955
Place of Birth:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981
Website:
http://www.scottoline.com

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