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Running from the Law

Running from the Law

3.8 38
by Lisa Scottoline

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Whether it's poker or trial law, wisecracking Rita Morrone plays to win, especially when she takes on the defense of the Honorable Fiske Hamilton, a prominent federal judge accused of sexual harassment. And it's no coincidence that the judge is her live-in lover's father. Then the action turns deadly, and Rita finds herself at the center of a murder case. She


Whether it's poker or trial law, wisecracking Rita Morrone plays to win, especially when she takes on the defense of the Honorable Fiske Hamilton, a prominent federal judge accused of sexual harassment. And it's no coincidence that the judge is her live-in lover's father. Then the action turns deadly, and Rita finds herself at the center of a murder case. She probes deep into the murder, uncovering a secret life and suspects in shocking places. When the killer viciously ups the ante, Rita decides to end this lethal game. She lays it all on the line for the highest stakes ever—her life.

Editorial Reviews

Richard North Patterson
Quick, witty, flavorful and absorbing.
USA Today
Sharp, intelligent, funny, and hip. . . .[Scottoline]gives fans of legal thrillers a good, twisty plot.
Philadelphia Magazine
Mary Higgins Clark meets Susan Isaacs meets John Grisham.
New York Times Book Review
Rita Morrone has a smart way with words and a shifty code of ethics, attributes that give this Philadelphia trail lawyer a jump on the legal competition.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Filled with fast-paced action, tantalizing plot twists and the unforgettable Rita, Running from the Law is a completely satisfying novel of suspense and human drama.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A lawyer defending a judge against a sexual harassment suit gets more than she bargained for when the judge's accuser is murdered. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Against her better judgment, Rita Morrone, a smart-mouthed, poker-playing young lawyer, agrees to represent her lover's father, a respected judge, against a sexual harassment charge brought by his secretary. As she prepares to go to trial, little does she know that her lover, Paul, is also involved in the case and that the lady in question will end up murdered; furthermore, she doesn't suspect that her own life and that of her father will lie in the balance. Yet as she investigates, it becomes increasingly clear that the good judge is being framed. Despite her fury at Paul for his infidelity and her concern for her father, she does her homework and-with a little help from her octogenarian poker cronies-deftly nails the murderer. Readers of courtroom fiction will love this latest by Scottoline, who was nominated for an Edgar Award for Final Appeal (HarperCollins, 1994). Recommended for public libaries.-Susan Clifford, Hughes Aircraft Co. Lib., Los Angeles
Gilbert Taylor
Lawyer Rita Morrene has moxie: she can posture in front of a jury, play poker with the boys, bluff her way though tight situations, and even fend off a gun-waving killer. The springboard for putting her brass in motion is a sexual harassment suit in which the accuser suddenly dies of unnatural causes. Because Morrene's client, a blue-blooded judge, had ample incentive to see the scandalous suit disappear, he becomes the prime suspect in the case. But the intrepid Morrene, with trademark sarcastic asides at the ready, soon adds suspects of her own, for the victim, it turns out, was a brazen minx who bedded many men, any of whom could have wanted the girl dead. Morrene's strategem for sorting out the candidates (who include her own boyfriend, which stokes up women-scorned atmospherics) cleverly flushes out the real killer, whose motive wasn't resentment about sex but greed connected with the original lawsuit. Against a carnival-like cast of characters, the author has created a star heroine whose savvy is worth a sequel or two.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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6.74(w) x 10.92(h) x 1.23(d)

Read an Excerpt

Any good poker player will tell you the secret to a winning bluff is believing it yourself. I know this, so by the time I cross-examined the last witness, I believed. I was in deep, albeit fraudulent, mourning. Now all I had to do was convince the jury.

"Would you examine this document for me, sir?" I said, my voice hoarse with fake grief. I did the bereavement shuffle to the witness stand and handed an exhibit to Frankie Costello, a lump of a plant manager with a pencil-thin mustache.

"You want I should read it?" Costello asked.

No, I want you should make a paper airplane. "Yes, read it, please."

Costello bent over the document, and I snuck a glance at the jury through my imaginary black veil. A few returned my gaze with mounting sympathy. The trial had been postponed last week because of the death of counsel's mother, but the jury wasn't told which lawyer's mother had died. It was defense counsel's mother who'd just passed on, not mine, but don't split hairs, okay? You hand me an ace, I'm gonna use it.

"I'm done," Costello said, after the first page.

"Please examine the attachments, sir."

"Attachments?" he asked, cranky as a student on the vocational track.

"Yes, sir." I leaned heavily on the burled edge of the witness stand and looked down with a mournful sigh. I was wearing black all over: black suit, black pumps, black hair pulled back with a black grosgrain ribbon. My eyes were raccoony, too, but from weeks of lost sleep over this trial, which had been slipping through my manicured fingers until somebody choked on her last chicken bone.

"Give me a minute," Costello said, tracing a graph with a stubby finger.

"Take all the time you need, sir."

He labored over the chart as the courtroom fell silent. The only sound was the death rattle of an ancient air conditioner that proved no match for a Philadelphia summer. It strained to cool the large Victorian courtroom, one of the most ornate in City Hall. The courtroom was surrounded by rose marble wainscotting and its high ceiling was painted robin's-egg blue with gold crown molding. A mahogany rail contained the jury, and I stole another glance at them. The old woman and the pregnant mother in the front row were with me all the way. But I couldn't read the grim-faced engineer who'd been peering at me all morning. Was he sympathetic or suspicious?

"I'm done," Costello said, and thrust the exhibit at me in a Speedy Gonzales fit of pique. We don't need no steenking badges.

"Thank you," I said, meaning it. It was a mistake not to keep the exhibit. You'll see why. "Mr. Costello, have you had an adequate opportunity to read Joint Exhibit 121?"


"This isn't the first time you've seen these documents, is it, sir?" My voice echoed in the empty courtroom. There were no spectators in the pews, not even the homeless. The Free Library was cooler, and this trial was boring even me until today.

"Nah," Costello said. "I seen it before."

"You prepared the memorandum yourself, didn't you?"

"Yeh." Costello shifted in the direction of his lawyer, George W. Vandivoort IV, the stiff-necked fellow at the defense table. Vandivoort wore a pin-striped suit, horn-rimmed glasses, and a bright-eyed expression. He manifested none of the grief of a man who had buried his own mother only days ago, which was fine with me. I had rehearsed enough grief for both of us.

"Mr. Costello, did you send Exhibit 121 to Bob Brown, director of operations at Northfolk Paper, with a copy to Mr. Saltzman?"

Costello paused, at a loss without the memo in front of him. Who can remember what they just read? Nobody. Who would ask for the memo back? Everybody except an Italian male. "I think so," he said slowly.

"And you sent Mr. Rizzo a blind copy, isn't that correct, sir?"

He tried to remember. "Yeh."

"Just so I'm clear on this, a blind copy is when you send a memo or letter to someone, but the memo doesn't show that you did, isn't that right?" A point with no legal significance, but juries hate blind copies.

"Yeh. It's standard procedure to Mr. Rizzo, Mr. Dell'Orefice, and Mr. Facelli."

Even better, it sounded like the Mafia. I glanced at one of the black jurors, who was frowning deeply. He lived in Southeast Philly on the ragged fringe of the Italian neighborhood, and had undoubtedly taken his share of abuse. His frown meant I had collected six jurors so far. But what about the engineer? I tried to look sadder.

Suddenly an authoritative cough issued from the direction of the judge's paneled dais. "Ms. Morrone, I don't appreciate what you're doing," snapped the Honorable Gordon H. Kroungold, a sharp Democrat who was elevated to the bench from an estates practice, where nobody would ever dream of exploiting someone's death. At least not in open court. "I don't appreciate what you're doing at all."

"I'm proceeding as quickly as I can, Your Honor," I said, looking innocently up at the dais. It towered above my head, having been built in a time when we thought judges belonged on pedestals.

"That's not what I meant, Ms. Morrone." Judge Kroungold smoothed down a triangle of frizzy hair with an open hand. He wetted his hair down with water every morning, but after the second witness it would reattain its loft. "It's your demeanor I'm having a problem with, counsel."

Stay calm. Your mother's not even cold, poor baby. "I'm afraid I don't understand, Your Honor."

Judge Kroungold's dark eyes glowered. "Approach the bench, Ms. Morrone. You, too, Mr. Vandivoort."

"Of course, Your Honor," Vandivoort said, jumping up and hustling over. His mother's death had put such a spring into his step that he almost beat me to the dais. An inheritance, no doubt.

"Ms. Morrone, what the hell do you think you're doing?" Judge Kroungold asked, stretching down over his desk. "Is this some kind of stunt?"

Gulp. "I beg your pardon?"

"Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about."

"Your Honor?"

"Please." Judge Kroungold looked around for his court reporter and waved him over irritably. "Wesley, I want this on the record."

The court reporter, an older black man with oddly grayish skin, picked up the stenography machine by its steel tripod and huddled with us at the front of the dais. A sidebar conversation is out of the jury's hearing, but not the appellate court's. The word disbarment flitted across my mind, but I shooed it away.

"Ms. Morrone," Judge Kroungold said, "please tell me, on the record, that I'm not seeing what I think I'm seeing."

"I don't understand what you mean, Your Honor. What is it you're seeing?"

"No, Ms. Morrone. No, no, no. Nuh-uh. You tell me exactly what you're doing." Judge Kroungold leaned so far over that I experienced a fine spray of judicial saliva. "You tell me. Right now."

"I'm conducting my cross-examination of this final witness, Your Honor."

The judge's liver-colored lips set in a determined line. "So it would appear. But let me state for the record that you seem very tired today, Ms. Morrone. Very lethargic. One would even say that you seem depressed."

I didn't know he cared. "Your Honor, I am tired. It's been a long trial and I've worked this case myself. I don't have the associates Mr. Vandivoort does, from Webster & Dunne," I said, loud enough for the jury to hear.

Judge Kroungold's eyes slipped toward the jury, then bored down into me. "Lower your voice, counsel. Now."

Win some, lose some. "Yes, sir."

"I would never have expected to see something like this in my courtroom. For God's sake, you're even wearing a black suit!"

"I noticed that, too," Vandivoort added, as it began to dawn on him.

"Your Honor," I said, "I've worn this suit to court many times."

"Not in this trial you haven't," the judge spat back. Literally. "And no makeup. Last week you had on lipstick, but not today. What happened to that pink lipstick? Too bright?"

Time to raise him. "Your Honor, why are we discussing my clothing and makeup in court? Do you make comments of this sort to the male attorneys who appear before you?"

Judge Kroungold blinked, then his eyes narrowed. "You know damn well I wasn't making . . . comments."

"With all due respect, Your Honor, I find your comments inappropriate. I object to them and to the tenor of this entire sidebar as an unfortunate example of gender bias."

His mouth fell so far open I could see his bridgework. "What? I'm not biased against you. In fact, I took great pains in my instruction not to tell the jury whose mother had died, in order to avoid undue sympathy for the defense. You, Ms. Morrone, are giving the jury the distinct and entirely false impression that it was your mother who died and not Mr. Vandivoort's." Running From the Law. Copyright © by Lisa Scottoline. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Janet Evanovich
"Lisa Scottoline has been added to my short list for must-read authors. Her stories are teeth gnashing suspense, her charactes are compelling, and her humor cuts to the heart of the issue with laser-like accuracy."
Richard North Patterson
"Quick, witty, powerful and absorbing. Ms. Selttoline's distinctive voice makes this book a pleasure to read, and I did so at warp speed."
Stephen L. Isaacs
"What fun! Lisa Scottoline brings something new to the lawyer-mystery - a golden sense of humor."

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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Running from the Law 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
curlyhair More than 1 year ago
Will definitely hold your interest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lisa Scottoline not only writes books I am unable to put down, she adds a wry sense of humor. Her characters think the things we'd all like to say when faced with someone asking a moronic question. Example: She hand a witness a piece of paper & he asks 'You want that I should read this?'. Her main character thinks to herself: 'No, I want that you should make a paper airplane!'. Just what I would have wanted to say.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SadieSueMarie More than 1 year ago
As usual Lisa Scottoline never disappoints. Her books are one of the best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
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Enjoy most of Lisa Scottoline's books. Good read.
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MJDavis More than 1 year ago
This story will keep you interested from the first page to the last. Yes, it is light reading but oh so entertaining! I have read all Lisa Scottoline's books, and I have never beeen disappointed. She tells a great tale!
Love-my-NookNJ More than 1 year ago
A great beach book. Nothing to heavy. good plot and a fun read.
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