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.
The female John Grisham.
...[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.
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.
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) .
“A superior piece of writing...a gripping, multi-layered story peopled by compelling characters”
"Scottoline is a star."
“Well-written, dramatic, and highly suspensful . . . an enjoyable read.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“fast and furious”
“Ratcheting suspense, dynamic characters, and a master’s touch”
“Scottoline is a star.”
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“Sharply plotted, Mistaken never misses a step in suspense, character development, and dialogue.”
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?"
"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."