Lisa Scottoline






Pan Macmillan, current edition March 2006
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

At just thirty-six Cate Fante is the youngest judge in the Federal Court in Philadelphia. Cate is a very attractive blonde which in itself is enough to cause resentment among some of the other judges. This is her first day on the job.

The first case she has to preside over is difficult. Former Assistant District Attorney Richard Marz, is suing the maker of a highly successful TV show claiming that the producer stole his idea. He even quit his job to work on scripts believing he would be paid for his efforts. However, the producer is slick and has exploited the fact that there was no written contract. Everyone knows the producer has pulled a swiftie and Cate’s sympathies lie with the plaintiff, however she has no alternative but to find for the defendant.

During an exchange at the hearing the producer tells Cate he is planning a spin-off series about judges and that he’ll base his main character on her. Cate makes a joke of it, but she’s uneasy because she has a secret that only her best friend knows. The very next day the producer is gunned down in the street and Marz is the prime suspect. When Marz’s body is found, dead of an apparent suicide, the case is closed. However things aren’t over for Cate. Her secret is out, and not only her new job but her life is in danger.

Author Lisa Scottaline is the author of a series of novels featuring the law firm Rosato and Associates. A departure from the series, DIRTY BLONDE is a standalone novel. The character of Cate is a contradictory one. She is a fine lawyer and deserves to be a judge. When it comes to issues of justice vs. the law Cate knows her duties. She is also a loyal friend. However Cate’s private life is slightly at odds with the rest of her character and poses threats, both privately and professionally. Despite her shortcomings, you can’t help but like Cate. She has a sense of humour and the courage to face up to the consequences of her actions.

Writers of thrillers have a difficult task. By their very nature thrillers have to have confrontations which put the protagonist in danger and it can be very easy to fall into clichés. Scottoline has managed to avoid this quite deftly and while there is danger for Cate, there are twists which make things unpredictable. The plot is well paced and was clever enough to keep me guessing. Until the reveal at the end of the book I didn’t trust a single character.

DIRTY BLONDE is one of the better offerings in the legal thriller genre and is a good example of why Scottoline is so popular.

September, 2006 review originally published on Murder and Mayhem


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