Book Beat review by Jeff Hall: Like intrigue along with comedy? You'll like ‘Accused'

"Accused" by Lisa Scottoline

The author of “Accused,” Lisa Scottoline, is quite accomplished. She has a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, has practiced law and has written more than two dozen books in 25 languages. She also writes a weekly column, “Chick Wit” in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Right after Mary DiNunzio becomes a partner in a small law firm, she decides to take a case for a 13-year-old client, Allegra, who has just gained access to a trust fund. Allegra, a genius, with some possible emotional problems swears that the man sent to jail for killing her older sister six years ago, Lonnie Stahl, is innocent, despite pleading guilty to the crime. She wants Lonnie released and the actual killer jailed. Mary’s “assignment” is made exponentially harder because Allegra’s parents, John and Jane Gardner, who are extremely wealthy, don’t want the murder case of their daughter, Fiona reopened.

If you like intrigue along with comedy, you will also like this book. The comedy comes from interpersonal relationships between Mary, her work associates and especially her old style Italian family as well as her future Italian perspective mother-in-law. Most of the older generation is octogenarian, who are obviously set in their ways. This includes the three Tonys – “Pigeon Tony”, “Tony two feet” and “Tony down the block”, who tag along on some of the adventures. An added bonus for those who are familiar with local geography, much of the book takes place in Philadelphia.

So, who killed Allegra’s sister, Fiona? Was it one of her parents, Fiona’s ex-boyfriend, Lonnie Stahl, a jealous girl friend of Fiona’s, a servant of the Gardner family, Allegra or someone else? Try this fast-reading novel and find out!

The only criticism I have is the book has two couples living together who aren’t married. I presume this is a “spill over” from the author’s “Chick Wit” column where she more than once jokes about her three divorces.

Book Beat book review is contributed by Jeff Hall, Honey Brook.

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