Mistaken Identity (Rosato & Associates Series #4) by Lisa Scottoline, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Mistaken Identity (Rosato & Associates Series #4)

Mistaken Identity (Rosato & Associates Series #4)

3.8 54
by Lisa Scottoline

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Lisa Scottoline continues to enthrall a growing legion of critics and fans with her superb talent for creating gripping, unpredictable stories that rival the best of John Grisham, Scott Turow, and Richard North Patterson. Filled with twisting plots, unforgettable flesh-and-blood characters, and absorbing dramatic tension, her previous national bestsellers have


Lisa Scottoline continues to enthrall a growing legion of critics and fans with her superb talent for creating gripping, unpredictable stories that rival the best of John Grisham, Scott Turow, and Richard North Patterson. Filled with twisting plots, unforgettable flesh-and-blood characters, and absorbing dramatic tension, her previous national bestsellers have propelled her into the top ranks of legal suspense. Now, this acclaimed author is back withMistaken Identity, her most thoughtful, riveting, and richest novel yet.

Life holds few surprises for Bennie Rosato, head of her own Philadelphia law firm. As a criminal attorney now specializing in police misconduct cases, she's seen the noblest and most deviant aspects of human nature. But nothing can prepare her for the moment she enters a maximum-security prison to meet her new client, Alice Connolly, face to face. Accused of brutally murdering her lover, a highly decorated police detective, Connolly claims the police framed her. A defendant protesting her innocence is not unusual for Bennie. What shocks her is that Connelly bears an uncanny physical resemblance to her. "Pleased to meet you. I'm your twin. Your identical twin," Connolly tells the astonished lawyer. But Bennie grew up as an only child, or so she thought. She has a law firm, a handsome young lover, and a golden retriever; she doesn't have a twin. Or does she?

Connolly knows too many intimate details about Bennie's life and family for the resemblance to be just coincidental. And there is something about the woman that compels the intrigued attorney to defend her, against her better judgment. Taking the case with the trial only a week away, Bennie plunges into the mystery of the murder, as well as her own identity and her family's dark secrets. Is Connolly innocent? And is she Bennie's unknown sister? It is not until Bennie takes the case to verdict that she will finally learn the truth, which threatens to change her life.

A legal thriller, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of the emotional bonds that define our lives and those we love, Mistaken Identity is a masterful achievement that takes the legal thriller to a new level as it resoundingly confirms Lisa Scottoline's place as one of the premier writers of suspense fiction today.

Lisa Scottoline has been praised as "the female John Grisham" by People Magazine and confirms that honor with her taut new thriller, Mistaken Identity. Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it her "biggest book yet" and the Coca Cola Company chose Mistaken Identity to promote the pleasures of reading by putting an excerpt in 10 million packages of Diet Coke.

Interview with Lisa Scottoline

Q: What first gave you the inspiration to write?

Scottoline: I don't know, to tell you the truth. I was very happy as a lawyer, but when my life changed and I had a child, I had to find another way to earn a living. Basically, I saw that John Grisham and other male writers were making a lot of really good stories out of being a trial lawyer. And I thought, why are there no women doing this? I mean, I had studied English when I was in school at Penn, and I thought, gee, I should be able to do this. So, the impetus was seeing the genre explode, and understanding that there was a niche that wasn't being filled.

Q: How is writing a new novel similar to preparing for a trial?

Scottoline: That's an interesting question. Actually, it is very similar, particularly with suspense. My aim is to make the books move fast, especially with Mistaken Identity, which works on a lot of different levels. As a trial lawyer, you are trained to figure out which sentences matter, and throw out the ones that don't matter. You get up before a jury and tell them only the important facts, in exactly the order you want, so that you will produce in your audience a reaction. And that is exactly what I aim to do on the page; suspense to me means including only the relevant sentences to create a book readers won't want to put down. For Bennie Rosato, the protagonist of Mistaken Identity, I ask what are the sentences that will make people understand her view of the world, understand her.

Q: Tell me a little of your view of characterization.

Scottoline: I think characterization matters a lot, particularly in legal thrillers. I've read quite a few books in this genre, and the stuff that used to fly--like Earl Stanley Gardner or Perry Mason--just doesn't work any more. Not to detract from those books, they're wonderful, but people are much more sophisticated today in their knowledge of law, legal ethics, and what actually happens in a court room. The O.J. case educated everybody, you know? For example, in my book Rough Justice, which was published pre-O.J., I had to define what a sidebar was. Now, during the O.J. trial, people were running around with pins that said "Too Many Sidebars." It was remarkable! So, for me, that trial saved me a ton of time, because I didn't have to define things for people anymore. But it also put on extra demands to make each book even more compelling since readers won't buy that a lawyer can crack somebody on the witness stand, because that really doesn't happen. In Perry Mason's day people thought it could, but it doesn't. So today [the legal thriller] has to be written at a higher level.

Q: How much "trial preparation"--which is to say, firsthand research--do you like to do before sitting down to write?

Scottoline: Tons. For instance, I took boxing lessons for Mistaken Identity. It would have been easy to write "the girl who goes into the gym and doesn't know what she is doing" character. But for the plot, I also had to create a credible boxer, and that is why I had to hang out with some boxers. The lessons were a great vehicle for that level of credibility. I'm still a lousy boxer, but now I've got my details down.

Q: Obviously you don't have be a good boxer to write well about it.

Scottoline: As Norman Mailer proved, or Joyce Carol Oates! She actually wrote a nice piece on boxing. But I think I could take her once I got my jab going.

Q: Your new book, Mistaken Identity, is inspired by something that really happened to you.

Scottoline: Not too long ago, I learned that I had a sister I didn't know about. Ironically, I had always wanted a sister, and it was a little startling to actually find out, past the age of thirty, that I had one. She was searching for her birth parents, and that was how she found me. I mean, I thought I had known my family boundaries, and suddenly, here was this total stranger who looked a lot like me. So, questions obviously arose like where does she fit in, and how does it feel to have this person in my life? When something that cool happens to a writer, you have to use it!

Q: What was your toughest challenge writing Mistaken Identity? What narrative problem kept you up at night?

Scottoline: Every single thing. I sweat every single page, every sentence. And this book was something even more challenging, trying to mix a family story with a courtroom case with a thriller. I had no interest in simply writing the Scottoline family saga, but I wanted to use that story of the sisters in an entertaining book you can't put down. I feel very strongly about that: for $24 the reader had better be entertained.

Q: The first chapter of Mistaken Identity was posted on your web site and you invited visitors to give you editorial feedback. What was that like?

Scottoline: The response was amazing, and very helpful. Like any writer, I'm alone in a garret, not sure that what I am producing is working. And I thought it would be interesting to communicate with readers and people who are interested in writing. It would be a new way of getting feedback. I'm told that Kurt Vonnegut (and others) used to go around and read his works in progress. The tradition of reading works in progress made a lot of sense when you could travel around, but that wasn't convenient for me. So I posted it on my site. I mean everyone posts a chapter, a teaser, but the innovation here was to post a work that wasn't yet finished, still in the writing stage. Thousands of people edited that chapter, and I read every single one of them. The experiment was very interesting, and I will undoubtedly do it again.

Q: What is behind Bennie's law firm, what gave you the idea to make it all female?

Scottoline: I just didn't want to write a series character. Some writers of legal thrillers like them, such as Scott Turow, who has recurring people. The other example is John Grisham whose books are stand-alones. But I wanted to have a little of both, so I thought why not do an ensemble, in this case the law firm. And since I tended to be doing women lawyers--straight out of the "write what you know" school--I decided to put them all in the same firm to see what would happen. It's fun, because they have quite different personalities--though they are all, suspiciously, blonde.

Q: Bennie is a strong character, sufficiently strong, it seems, to carry a TV or feature film. Is that something you want to pursue?

Scottoline: Well, yes, [the book] was optioned for a TV series. I think the development company saw the same continuing possibilities as I did about these twins, Bennie and Alice.

Q: From Court TV to Judge Judy, Americans seem obsessed with legal issues. Why do you think law is such an entertainment commodity to us?

Scottoline: Because it's very dramatic, life and death stuff. And more than that it is all about winning and losing. Every day, when I practiced law, I won or lost two or three things--a motion here, or a trial decision there. Vast sums of money change hands. Things happen, and the lawyer is very much a player in that drama. Lawyers can be very interesting, effective people. And I also get a sense, from the email I receive from readers, that in addition to the characters, they really enjoy the question about justice and ethics. You know, what is justice? What is just in a certain situation? That is constantly fascinating to people, and every day there is a new compelling legal story on the news. Every case is a great story: each is personal, emotional, and a tale about justice. How can you beat that!? You can't!

Editorial Reviews

Time magazine
“Scottoline is a star.”
Called "the female John Grisham" by People magazine, Lisa Scottoline may have her breakout book with Mistaken Identity, a thick, hefty thriller that reads like a runaway freight train: powerful, lightning quick, and loaded with unpredictable twists and turns that'll keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the intense journey.
People Magazine
The female John Grisham.
Judith Flavell
...[A] lot like taking a ride on the fastest roller coaster in the amusement park: exhilarating, nonstop action with plenty of twists and turns....As always, Ms. Scottoline's stories include lots of riveting action. This author knows the streets and the people that make up Philadelphia, and she effortlessly brings them to life in Mistaken Identity....I was with [the characters] every gut-wrenching step of the way.
The Mystery Reader.com
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Double jeopardy is more than just a legal term in this taut and smart courtroom drama by Edgar Award winner Scottoline. Bennie Rosato, the irrepressible head of an all-female Philadelphia law firm, moves to center stage after playing a supporting role in the author's previous novel, Rough Justice. Bennie's client is tough, manipulative Alice Connolly, charged with murdering her police detective boyfriend, who may or may not have been a drug dealer. Complicating matters is Alice's claim to be Bennie's identical twin sister and to have been visited by their long-lost father. Despite her wrenching emotional reaction to this revelation and her mother's deteriorating health, Bennie puts her personal and professional life on the line, immersing herself in the case. She enlists the aid of her associates, Mary DiNunzio and Judy Carrier, as well as Lou Jacobs, a cantankerous retired cop she hires as an investigator. They discover that a web of corruption may have enveloped the prosecuting attorney and judge who are now trying Alice's case. Scottoline effectively alternates her settings between prison, law office, courtroom and the streets. Readers familiar with her previous work will enjoy the continuing evolution of the characters' relationships. Judy is still the bolder of the two associates, her experiences highlighted this time by an amusing venture into the seamy world of pro boxing. But Mary, until now a timid and reluctant lawyer ("Maybe I could get a job eating"), emerges from her shell. Scottoline falters occasionally by resorting to ethnic stereotypes, particularly in her dialogue, but generally succeeds in creating a brisk, multilayered thriller that plunges Rosato & Associates into a maelstrom of legal, ethical and familial conundrums, culminating in an intricate, dramatic and intense courtroom finale. Agent, Molly Friedrich. FYI: Mistaken Identity is one of the six books excerpted in Diet Coke's marketing campaign.
Library Journal
In Mistaken Identity, Scottoline provides us with one of her trademark legal thrillers. Typically, it includes the exploration of personal and family relationships as lawyer Bennie Rosato defends a client who claims to be her own twin sister. While defending her client on a capital murder charge, Rosato must deal with a police conspiracy and explore long-buried family secrets. It is a very entertaining mix. The book also gives the listener a taste of the Philadelphia scene and the criminal court system. Though the plot is somewhat improbable, the author draws us in and makes it believable. Kate Harper does an adequate job portraying the various complex and well-drawn characters, but her repeated mispronunciation of several words (including a major Philadelphia landmark) is irritating. This production is recommended for popular collections where legal thrillers are in demand.--Christine Valentine, Davenport Coll. Lib., Kalamazoo, MI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
— Michael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Compelling...will keep you turning the pages.
Sun Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale)
Sharply plotted...never misses a step.
Kirkus Reviews
Continuing her run of coming up with the best hooks in the legal intrigue trade (Rough Justice, 1997, etc.), Scottoline tosses Philadelphia lawyer Bennie Rosato her most challenging client-an accused cop-killer who claims she's Bennie's identical twin. And maybe she is. Bennie's ailing mother is too far gone to confirm or deny Alice Connolly's incredible tale of separation soon after birth; the supporting evidence is inconclusive; and while Bennie is waiting for the DNA results, there's the little matter of taking over, on a week's notice, Connolly's botched defense on the capital charge of killing her live-in lover, Officer Anthony Della Porta. Bennie, whose firm specializes in prosecuting naughty cops, couldn't expect much help from Della Porta's associates even if they weren't, as Connolly insists, crooks and drug dealers, cogs in a conspiracy dedicated to putting her away for good. Meantime, her fellow inmates can't wait for her to be found guilty; they're eager to sentence her to a much quicker death. The situation is so desperate that Bennie toys with the idea of mounting a twin defense, changing her hair and dress in order to double herself with the unlovable defendant. She changes her mind, but Connolly doesn't. Since Bennie won't ape her style, she starts to ape Bennie's: "The defendant had become the lawyer; the twins had traded places." Meantime, Bennie's getting clobbered in court by rulings so slanted that she's got to wonder if Judge Harrison Guthrie isn't part of the conspiracy too. All this while she's trying to face up to the possibility that hard-bitten Connolly really is her long-lost twin sister. Can Scottoline do justice to the whodunit, the courtroom thriller,and the buried family romance in a mere 496 pages? Of course not; the thriller wins in a walk. But even the most skeptical fans will be impressed at how tightly Scottoline knots them all together in her biggest book yet. (Author tour) .

Philadelphia Inquirer
“A superior piece of writing...a gripping, multi-layered story peopled by compelling characters”
USA Today
“a humdinger”
Time Magazine
"Scottoline is a star."
“Well-written, dramatic, and highly suspensful . . . an enjoyable read.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“fast and furious”
David Baldacci
“Ratcheting suspense, dynamic characters, and a master’s touch”
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“Sharply plotted, Mistaken never misses a step in suspense, character development, and dialogue.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Rosato & Associates Series, #4
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.18(d)

Read an Excerpt

Bennie Rosato shuddered when she caught sight of the place. The building stretched three blocks long and stood eight stories tall. It lacked conventional windows; instead, slits of bulletproof glass scored its brick facade. Spiked guard towers anchored its corners and a double row of cyclone fencing topped with razor wire encircled its perimeter, attesting to its maximum security status. Exiled to the industrial outskirts of the city, Philadelphia's Central Corrections housed murderers, sociopaths, and rapists. At least when they weren't on parole.

Bennie pulled into a parking space in the half-empty visitors' lot, climbed out of her Ford Expedition, and walked down the sidewalk in June's humidity, wrestling with her reluctance. She'd stopped practicing criminal law and had promised herself she'd never see the prison again until the telephone call from a woman inmate who was awaiting trial. The woman had been charged with the shooting murder of her boyfriend, a detective with the Philadelphia police, but claimed a group of uniforms had framed her. Bennie specialized in prosecuting police misconduct, so she'd slid a fresh legal pad into her briefcase and had driven up to interview the inmate.

The opportunity to change read a metal plaque over the door, and Bennie managed not to laugh. The prison had been designed with the belief that vocational training would convert heroin dealers to keypunch operators and since nobody had any better ideas, still operated on the assumption. Bennie opened the heavy gray door, an inexplicably large dent buckling its middle, and went inside. She was immediately assaulted by stifling air, thick with sweat, disinfectant, and a cacophony ofrapid-fire Spanish, street English, and languages Bennie didn't recognize. Whenever she entered the prison, Bennie felt as if she were walking into another world, and the sight evoked in her a familiar dismay.

The waiting room, packed with inmates' families, looked more like day care than prison. Infants in arms rattled plastic keys in primary colors, babies crawled from lap to lap, and a toddler practiced his first steps in the aisle, grabbing a plastic sandal for support as he staggered past. Bennie knew the statistics: nationwide, seventy-five percent of women inmates are mothers. The average prison term for a woman lasts a childhood. No matter whether Bennie's clients had been brought here by circumstance or corruption, she could never forget that their children were the ultimate victims, ignored at our peril. She couldn't fix it no matter how hard she'd tried and she couldn't stop trying, so she had finally turned away.

Bennie suppressed the thought and threaded her way to the front desk while the crowd socialized. Two older women, one white and one black, exchanged recipes written on index cards. Hispanic and white teenagers huddled together, a bouquet of backward baseball caps laughing over photos of a trip to Hershey Park. Two Vietnamese boys shared the sports section with a white kid across the aisle. Unless prison procedures had changed, these families would be the Monday group, visiting inmates with last names A through F, and over time they'd become friends. Bennie used to think their friendliness a form of denial until she realized it was profoundly human, like the camaraderie she'd experienced in hospital waiting rooms, in the worst circumstances.

The guards at the front desk, a woman and a man, were on the telephone. Female and male guards worked at the prison because both sexes were incarcerated here, in separate wings. Behind the desk was a panel of smoked glass that looked opaque but concealed the prison's large, modern control center. Security monitors glowed faintly through the glass, their chalky gray screens ever-changing. A profile moved in front of a lighted screen like a storm cloud in front of the moon.
Bennie waited patiently for a guard, which cut against her grain. She questioned authority for a living, but she had learned not to challenge prison guards. They performed daily under conditions at least as threatening as those facing cops, but were acutely aware they earned less and weren't the subject of any cool TV shows. No kid grew up wanting to be a prison guard.

While Bennie waited, a little boy with bells on his shoelaces toddled over and stared up at her. She was used to the reaction even though she wasn't conventionally pretty; Bennie stood six feet tall, strong and sturdy. Her broad shoulders were emphasized by the padding of her yellow linen suit, and wavy hair the color of pale honey spilled loose to her back. Her features were more honest than beautiful, but big blondes caught the eye, approving or no. Bennie smiled at the child to show she wasn't a banana.

"You an attorney?" asked the female guard, hanging up the phone. She was an African-American woman in a jet-black uniform and pinned to her heavy breast had been a badge of gold electroplate. The guard's hair had been combed back into a tiny bun from which stiff hairs sprung like a pinwheel, and her short sleeves were rolled up, macho style.

"Yeah, I'm a lawyer," Bennie answered. "I used to have an ID card but I'll be damned if I can find it."
"I'll look it up. Gimme your driver's license. Fill out the request slip. Sign the OV book for official visitors," the guard said on autopilot, and pushed a yellow clip ID across the counter.

Bennie produced her license, scribbled a request slip, and signed the log book. "I'm here to see Alice Connolly. Unit D, Cell 53."

"What's in the briefcase?"

"Legal papers."

"Put your purse in the lockers. No cell phones, cameras, or recording devices. Take a seat. We'll call you when they bring her down to the interview room."

What People are saying about this

David Baldacci
“Ratcheting suspense, dynamic characters, and a master’s touch”
Robert Tannenbaum
A legal thriller that seamlessly combines courtroom strategies and family secrets. Scottoline raises the bar!

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

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of Birth:
July 1, 1955
Place of Birth:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981

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Mistaken Identity 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Powerful novel from an author who continually raises her own bar, Mistaken Identity is what legal fiction should be all about--compelling story, strong character development, and dialogue which jumps off the pages. This novel has more than enough detail(backed by solid research by the author) to be believable, yet general enough so that you don't have to be a lawyer or judge to like the story. If you've ever had to suspend disbelief in order to be effective, this book is for you. This is no 'formula' book. It plays on so many different levels besides law. It peels away the layers of relationships--father/daughter, sibling/sibling, male/female, and various other triangles--while being very action oriented. Clearly a page-turner of the first degree. Ready for your next one, Ms. Scottoline!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Started the book on an airplane and had to stay up all night to finish it. If you like Grisham and Cornwell, this one is a must-read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a terrible book. Just terrible. Horrible ending. The ending was rushed.
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bmamca36 More than 1 year ago
I love by Rosato and Associates books written by Lisa Scottolini. I would recommend to anyone who enjoys legal thrillers are even just a good mystery. The characters are well developed and likable. The story is face paced and never dull. Would have liked to have seen a better ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this would be a good story after reading the overview. After reading a few chapters I am realizing I was wrong and finding it very difficult to continue. I find it is over descriptive as well as redundant. Since I am one not to waste money, even if it is just 3.99, I will continue to the end and hope at some point it get's better.
jacquiejm More than 1 year ago
Very good. Most would like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
interesting; a good storyline. worth reading.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The complete series of Rosato and associates is worth checking out
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LJrags More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I couldnt stop reading it. Would recommend it to every one. All of her books that Ive read, have all been good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed a lot of her books, but this one dropped the F word way too much. I stopped reading it.
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