The Vendetta Defense

Lisa Scottoline, Author HarperCollins Publishers $25 (390p) ISBN 978-0-06-018507-7
Is it murder or simply eye-for-an-eye justice if you kill someone who has killed members of your family? That moral conundrum lies at the heart of Scottoline's (Moment of Truth; Mistaken Identity) latest legal yarn, which gives top billing to yet another lawyer from the all-female Philadelphia firm of Rosato & Associates. The star here is the somewhat manic Judy Carrier, who has played supporting roles in the past. The story, however, revolves around Anthony ""Pigeon Tony"" Lucia, a lovable septuagenarian who killed his longtime rival, Angelo Coluzzi, who murdered Lucia's wife in their native Italy 60 years ago. Coluzzi, the wealthy, mob-connected owner of a big construction firm, always seems to get the upper hand until Pigeon Tony breaks his neck during a showdown at the pigeon-racing club where they're both members. Pigeon Tony freely admits he killed Coluzzi, but maintains he was justified because of the long-standing Italian tradition of vendetta; Carrier knows it will be a big stretch to make that argument fly before a 21st-century American jury. Aided, however, by Tony's many friends in South Philly's Italian neighborhoods, Carrier mounts a sparkling defense while dodging innumerable attempts on her life from Coluzzi's gang and trying to keep in check her amorous feelings for Pigeon Tony's ruggedly handsome grandson, Frank. Scottoline shows once again her knack for building a highly entertaining plot around an intriguingly simple legal issue and a cast of likable eccentrics. Her touch is light, and her satisfying mix of mischief, sex appeal, action and legal analysis justifies her wide following. (Feb. 27)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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