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29 October 2013

Review: 'Accused' by Lisa Scottoline (2013)

Mary DiNuzio has just been promoted to partner and is about to take on her most unusual case yet, brought to the firm by a thirteen-year-old genius with a penchant for beekeeping.  Allegra Gardner’s sister Fiona was murdered six years ago, and it seemed like an open-and-shut case: the accused, Lonnie Stall, was seen fleeing the scene; his blood was on Fiona and her blood was on him; most damningly, Lonnie Stall pleaded guilty.  But Allegra believes Lonnie is innocent and has been wrongly imprisoned. The Gardner family is one of the most powerful in the country and Allegra’s parents don’t believe in reopening the case, so taking it on is risky.  But the Rosato & Associates firm can never resist an underdog.  Was justice really served all those years ago?  It will take a team of unstoppable female lawyers, plus one thirteen-year-old genius, to find out.

Thanks to the lovely people at Sarah Hall Productions, I received a review copy of bestselling author Lisa Scottoline’s new novel, ‘Accused’, which will be released on the 29th of October. I hadn’t read anything by Lisa Scottoline before, but after a search on the Internet I discovered that she has written a very successful series of books about an all-female law firm called Rosato & Associates. The first part of the series was published in 1993, and 10 years later Lisa Scottoline is back with the 12th part, ‘Accused.’ I was not sure whether I needed to have read any of the other books to be able to understand what was going on, but what better way to find out then to just dive straight in?

‘Accused’ is the twelfth part of the successful book series that focuses on the all-female law firm Rosato & Associates. One of the female characters working at the law firm, Mary DiNunzio, has just been promoted to partner, and got engaged to her boyfriend Anthony. However, Mary does not have time to enjoy these personal celebrations, because a young girl needs the firm’s help. Thirteen-year-old Allegra Gardner is looking for a lawyer to help her free the innocent man who was put in jail for murdering her older sister Fiona several years ago. Mary and her colleague Judy decide to take on the case, but things aren’t looking too good when they find out Allegra’s partners do not support their daughter’s decision to seek legal help and state that Allegra is depressed and unbalanced. Even though everyone else says otherwise, Mary continues to believe Allegra, but where is the evidence to solve the case and, more importantly, how can she find it?

At first I was a bit afraid I wouldn’t be able to follow the storyline, since this is the twelfth part of a series of which I haven’t read any of the other books before. Thankfully, this didn’t turn out to be too much of a problem, even though I do think knowing all the characters’ backgrounds will definitely help while reading the novel. I can understand why the Rosato & Associates books are quite popular, because there’s a strong and fascinating all-female cast of characters at the centre of it consisting of Bennie Rosato, Mary DiNunzio, Judy Carrier and Anne Murphy. However, the story also benefits by the inclusion of other characters such as thirteen-year-old genius Allegra (I loved the bond that develops between her and Mary throughout the story), but also Mary’s amusing Italian family.

I was definitely intrigued by the murder case and finding out whether Allegra was right or not; did someone else kill her sister Fiona, and if so, who could be the killer? I couldn’t predict where the story was going to end, which made me want to read on and not put down the book until I had finished it. I also really liked the more personal touch to the story; the focus on Mary’s engagement and her friendship with Judy. Yet, I felt that perhaps the author could have focused a bit more on the law firm and Mary’s relationships with her colleagues, because I would have enjoyed reading about them, the female cast that turned this series into such a success. I definitely look forward to picking up the other parts of the series to hopefully learn more about these characters and their relationships.

‘Accused’ is a thrilling, realistic and well-plotted must-read that will keep you in its grip until the very last page; a novel that I’d recommend to anyone who loves a bit of suspense, but I’m sure all kinds of readers will be able to enjoy this novel and especially the great cast of women at its centre!


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