cover image Running from the Law

Running from the Law

Lisa Scottoline. HarperCollins Publishers, $20 (232pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017659-4

Scottoline's hardcover debut is a fast-paced, fast-talking legal thriller starring manipulative Philadelphia lawyer Rita Morrone, who is not above wearing black and wiping a nonexistent tear from her eye to advance her case in front of a jury. Rita, who narrates, is defending federal judge Fiske Hamilton, father of her boyfriend Paul, in a sexual harassment suit. Things go from bad to worse when, after Rita discovers evidence of more than just harassment, the woman pressing the suit is found murdered, with the judge as the prime suspect. In defending Hamilton, Rita has to face things about herself, her career and her relationship with Paul that she doesn't particularly want to acknowledge. All of this is window-dressing to the plot, which hinges on a least-likely-suspect mystery; but, through Scottoline's expert design, the window-dressing counts for much, turning this novel into something more than just a legal thriller from a female point of view. There's an intelligent sense of irony at work--from Rita's budding romance with the firm womanizer to her response to a personal tragedy that sounds a dark counterpoint to the masquerade of grief that opens the novel. Fans of Scottoline's paperback novels (the Edgar-winning Final Appeal and the Edgar-nominated Everywhere That Mary Went) will appreciate this offering, including how the author taps into her personal expertise as a former lawyer to advance plot and character; hopefully, the book's publication in hardcover will attract the new fans she deserves. $50,000 ad/promo; simultaneous HarperAudio; author tour; U.K., translation and dramatic rights: Columbia Literary Assoc. (Oct.)