Devil's Corner

Devil's Corner

by Lisa Scottoline

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060742898
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/28/2006
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 150,523
Product dimensions: 4.22(w) x 7.14(h) x 1.03(d)

About 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.


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

Read an Excerpt

Vicki Allegretti always wondered what it would feel like to look into the barrel of a loaded gun, and now she knew. The gun was a black Glock, nine millimeter, and it was aimed at her right eye. Vicki observed the scene out-of-body, as if it were happening to a girl with a better sense of humor. Wonder if black guns make you look thinner, she thought.

Holding her point-blank was an African American teenager with cornrows, who looked as terrified as she was. He looked about fourteen years old, showing just a shadow of a mustache, and his brown eyes were jittery with fear. He kept shifting his weight in his big Iversons, standing tall in baggy jeans and a red satin Sixers jacket. He'd frozen in place when he'd come downstairs and found Vicki standing there, his shocked expression suggesting that he hadn't shot many lawyers. At least not his share.

"You don't want to do this, pal," she said, only apparently calmly. The kid's long fingers trembled on the gun's cross-hatched grip, and his other hand cradled a bulge underneath his jacket, as if he were hiding something. She had evidently interrupted a burglary by a rookie. Unfortunately, the Glock was an all-star. "I'm an assistant U.S. attorney."

"Wha?" The teenager swallowed hard, his eyes flickering with confusion.

"I work for the Justice Department. Killing me is like killing a cop." Okay, it wasn't technically true, but it should have been. "If you shoot me, they'll try you as an adult. They'll go for the death penalty."

"Get your hands up!" The teenager's eyes flared, and he wet his lips with a large, dry tongue.

"Okay, sure. Relax." Vicki raised her hands slowly, fighting the instinct to run. He'd shoot her in the back if she did; the living room was so small, she'd never make it to the front door. Maybe she could talk her way out of it. "Listen, you don't want to upgrade a burglary charge to murder. The stuff that's under your jacket is yours now. Take it and run."

"Shut up!"

So Vicki did, holding her hands up, her thoughts racing ahead. None of this was supposed to be happening. She had come to the rowhouse tonight to meet a confidential informant in a minor straw purchase case. The meeting was to be so routine that Bob Morton, an ATF case agent, was finishing his cigarette outside by the car. Could she stall until Morty got here? And where was her CI now?

"Jay-Boy!" the kid yelled up the stairwell, panicky. "Jay!"

Vicki noted the nickname. She could identify every zit on the kid's face. She wasn't getting out of this alive. She couldn't wait for Morty. She had to do something.

"Jay! Where you at?" the teenager shouted, half-turning away, and Vicki seized her only chance. She grabbed the barrel of the Glock and twisted it upward. At the same instant, Morty walked though the screen door and the whole world exploded.

"Morty, watch out!" Vicky shouted. The Glock fired, jerking convulsively. The barrel seared her palms. The shot split her eardrums. The teenager wrenched the gun back, yanking her off her feet. Simultaneously, another shot rang out. Not from the Glock. Too close to be from Morty's gun. Vicki's throat caught and she looked past the teenager. A man in a goatee and a black coat was shooting at Morty from the stairs.

"No!" Vicki screamed, grappling for the Glock. She glimpsed Morty as he fell backwards, grimacing with pain. His arms flew open like a marionette's, throwing the gun from his hand.

"NO!" Vicki screamed louder, as the shooter on the stairs kept firing. A second gunshot, then a third and fourth burst into Morty's chest, exploding the blue ripstop of his down jacket, jerking his fallen body on impact.

Vicki's heart hiccupped with fear and she yanked harder on the gun. The teenager punched her in the stomach, and she doubled over, gasping for breath. She released the Glock and hit back. She connected with his Sixers jacket and held on for dear life.

"Let go!" the teenager shouted, punching Vicki again and again. She flailed and after a solid body blow, crumpled to the floor, the wind sucked out of her. As she fell, she heard the faraway scream of a police siren and the kid shouting scared, "Jay, we gotta go! Jay!"

Vicki lay doubled over on her side, her body paralyzed with pain. Tears blurred her vision. She couldn't collect her thoughts. She heard footsteps and panting, then a rifle chamber being ratcheted back. She opened wet eyes into the two bottomless black wells of a sawed-off shotgun. Hot smoke curled from the barrels, filling her nose with a burning smell. Aiming the weapon was the shooter with the goatee.

My God, no. Vicki rolled over in a last effort to save herself.

"Don't do it, Jay, she's a cop!" the teenager screamed. Then, "No! Get it! Hurry!" Suddenly they were scrambling to pick things up off the floor. Whatever they'd stolen must have fallen out of the Sixers coat.

"Leave it go, Teeg! We gotta go!" The shooter was already sprinting away, his hands full. The teenager bolted after him, jumping over Morty and out the front door, leaving the rowhouse suddenly quiet.

Morty. Vicki rolled back over and struggled to her feet, stumbling across the living room to him.

"Morty!" she called, anguished, when she reached his side. He was lying on his back, his arms still flung wide, his blue eyes fluttering. "Morty, can you hear me? Morty?"

He didn't answer, his gaze barely focused. His neat features had gone slack and a sheen of perspiration coated his forehead and wet his sandy hair. Fresh blood gurgled from his chest and drenched his jacket, soaking its bright blue to slick black, spattering its exposed white stuffing with red flecks.

No please God. Vicki choked back tears. She covered the wound with her palm to stanch the flow and reached into her raincoat pocket, grabbed her cell phone, flipped it open, and pressed speed dial for 911. When the dispatcher picked up, she said, "I'm at 483 Maron Street, off of Roosevelt Boulevard! I have an officer down! Officer shot!"

"Excuse me?" the dispatcher answered. "Miss, what did you say your name was?"

"Allegretti! Hurry, I have an ATF agent shot! Send an ambulance! Now!" Vicki tucked the slippery cell phone under an ear and pressed against Morty's wound with all her might. "What do I do? He's shot in the chest! I'm trying to stop the blood!"

"Keep it up and don't move him," the dispatcher answered. "Stay calm and I'll get you an ambulance."

"Thank you! Hurry!" Vicki pressed harder on the wound. Blood pulsed hot and wet between her fingers. Morty's lips were parting. He was trying to say something.

"Vick?" Morty's forehead creased. ""

"Yes, I'm here, It's me!" Vicki felt her heart lift. She kept her palm over the horrific wound. If anybody could survive this, Morty could. He was a fit forty-five year old, he worked out religiously, and he'd even run a marathon.

"What the hell...happened?" A watery red-pink bubble formed in the corner of Morty's mouth, and Vicki fought to maintain emotional control.

"Two kids were here when I came in, it was a burglary. The door was open, and I thought I heard somebody say come in -"

"How's...the CI?"

"I don't know. She may not be home."

"You're okay...right?"

"I'm fine. You're gonna be fine, too." The blood bubble popped, and Vicki watched in horror. If only she'd let him smoke in the car. If only she'd grabbed the gun sooner. The shooter hadn't killed her because he thought she was a cop, but Morty was the cop. On the cell phone, the emergency dispatcher was saying that an ambulance was ten minutes from the house. Vicki said, "The ambulance is on the way. Just hang in, please, hang in."

"Funny. You always said...cigarettes will...kill me." Morty managed an agonized smile.

"You're gonna be fine, Morty. You'll see, you'll be fine. You have to be fine."

"You're bossy for...a midget," Morty whispered, then his smile suddenly relaxed.

And he stopped breathing.

Vicki heard herself scream his name, then dropped the cell phone and tried to resuscitate him until police showed up at the door.

And things got even worse.

Reading Group Guide


New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline delivers a knockout stand-alone thriller featuring a young federal prosecutor who risks her life to bring down the kingpin of a conspiracy responsible for murders in West Philly.

Assistant US Attorney Vicki Allegretti goes to meet a confidential informant and finds herself facing a loaded 9 mm Glock semiautomatic weapon, wielded by a panicky teenager. Violence is the last thing this neophyte lawyer expects. The case is easy, the kind given to new ADAs to help them cut their teeth. Yet almost before she has time to react, her partner is dead, shot in the chest.

From that high-octane introduction to her job, Vicki vows to continue with the case, protect her informant, and find the shadowy figure behind the death of her partner. This decision will take her to the depths of the federal detention center's "bowl," to a row house on the street where she grew up, and to the posh suburbs where her parents now live. Set against the gritty backdrop of a modern American city and imbued with Lisa Scottoline's trademark style and wit, Devil's Corner is the story of a determined young lawyer seeking justice.


  1. Devil's Corner opens with the heroine, Vicki Allegretti, facing a loaded gun in the hands of a panicky teenager. Do you think her reaction is a typical one? How might you react in such a situation?

  2. Why is Vicki so determined not to leave the search for Morty's killer to the cops, but to do it herself? What does this say about her?

  3. How do you feel about the way Vicki handles her friendship with the married Dan?

  4. Do you think that Vicki's behavior in the meeting with Reheema Bristow and her lawyer is correct? Is it right to break rules if the end result is achieved?

  5. What kind of relationship does Vicki have with her father? Why?

  6. How does Vicki's upbringing compare with Reheema's? Did each parent do a good job?

  7. What part does the weather play in the story?

  8. Does the change in Vicki and Dan's relationship happen too quickly? Can Vicki trust Dan? Can he trust her?

  9. How effective as sleuths are Vicki and Reheema? How do their motivations differ? Could the case have been solved without them?

  10. What part do cell phones play in the story?

  11. Is there hope for the Devil's Corner neighborhood?

  12. Do you think that Vicki's and Reheema's friendship will endure?

About the Author

Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling author and a former trial lawyer. She has won the highest prize in crime fiction, the Edgar Award, and has lectured at law schools and bar associations on issues of legal ethics. She is an honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and its law school, where she was an editor of the Law Review and won the Loughlin Prize for legal ethics. Her books are published in more than twenty languages, and she remains a life-long resident of the Philadelphia area.

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Devil's Corner 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very good. I found it very hard to put down. I liked how the romance turned out in the end. Very good story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Already entrenched as one of the most popular authors of legal thrillers, Lisa Scottoline shows no signs of success lag. Her twelfth book, Devil's Corner, is once more headed by spunky, bright heroine, Vicki Allegretti, and peppered with trenchant dialogue. Vicki's the kind of gal who finds trouble wherever she looks, and determinedly faces it down. She packs a wallop and a gun, sometimes in her left coat pocket 'where it could shoot out an ovary.' Actress Barbara Rosenblat gives a strong vocal performance as Vicki allies herself with Reheema Bristow to break up a gang dealing in cocaine and death. Meeting an informant can be standard procedure for Vicki but when she shows up at the appointed time what she confronts is a loaded gun. By dint of determination and a lot of luck she escapes a bullet but two others aren't so fortunate. She's at a loss to understand why and how a routine meet turned into a massacre. Her investigation takes her to Philadelphia's sleazier neighborhood, one known as Devil's Corner, a haven for no one but dealers and thieves. It's easy to discover who deals; the big question is who's behind the dealers? A former trial lawyer and Edgar Award winner, Scottoline has delivered another rousing ride through places both low and high with the indefatigable Vicki exceeding the suspense limit at every turn. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
My first time reading Lisa Scottoline. Will continue to read her books. Fortunately, after reading her book I was reading a local newspaper and to my suprise there appeared her column 'The Philadlphia Inquire' have been reading her articles for sometime, and will continue to read and read more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great Read. Couldn't put it down. Another Scottoline Masterpiece.
caro488 on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Scottoline, Lisa, Devil's Corner, Vicki Allegretti, prosecutor, has a meet with a confidential informant, but hears her CI shot, and watches as her cop partner is killed. But she can recognize the killers. She is led to a ruined neighborhood, and another murder forces her to team up with the victim's unwilling daughter. The love interest is happily married, and how long is she going to travel down _that_ hopeless road?
1hundredprojects on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Just what I like about Scottoline--fast read, entertaining.
mikedraper on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Vicki Allegretti, Asst. U.S. Atty., goes to the home of a confidential informant and runs into two men who have just murdered the informant. She survives the encounter but her associate is killed.Reheema Bristow is the person that the CI claimed to have evidence about and she is freed after the CI is murdered.Vicki goes to Reheema's home thinking that she might get evidence to keep the case open and finds that Reheema's mother is a crack addict. Through some unusual circumstances, both women feel they have lost something to the killers and agree to work together.The reader must suspend their sense of logic to enjoy this story because it is a stretch. The two women have nothing in common and they are going to be spying on an inner city crack house. Vicki is a Harvard graduate and and attorney. I picture Reese Witherspoon of "Legally Blond" and wonder how she could survive the inner city streets.
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing 6 days ago
A fun fast-paced thriller starring a slightly neurotic young lawyer (Shoppaholic turns to law) who solves a tripple murder in the drug-infested slums of Philadephia. A great summer read.
coyle220 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Here is a story about Vicki, a determined female prosecutor, who's partner is killed before her eyes. Although she's told to quit the case, she keeps investigating a drug ring with the help of one of the suspects. For some reason, Vicki also has a "non-physical" affair with a married man too.
bookwormteri on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Great book. I was totally wrong about who the bad "guy" was, loved it. Completely enthralling.
jenspeaks on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Typical Scottoline - interesting plot, witty and sharp dialogue, fun characters.
Anonymous 10 months ago
As always Lisa keptbmwnturningbpages to see what would happen next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Already started her new awesome writer as a man growing up in South Philly her books take me down the streets I grew up around.
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2soreeyes More than 1 year ago
For as little as Vickie is she sure can get in & out of trouble. She doesn't care how big anyone is if you are in the wrong she will find a way to cut you down. And make you laugh all the way through her problems.
MaDonnaLA More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book from the beginning to the end. It kept my interest the entire way through.
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This one is my favorite by scottoline. I have read all of her books this spring, this being the last and was delighted to find it has all the best features of her writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like Lisa's books. She writes about strong females, who are a little vulnerable, but don' t let that interfere with what they want to accomplish.
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