Whether it's poker or trial law, wisecracking Rita Morrone plays to win, especially when she takes on the defense of the Honorable Fiske Hamilton, a prominent federal judge accused of sexual harassment. And it's no coincidence that the judge is her live-in lover's father. Then the action turns deadly, and Rita finds herself at the center of a murder case. She probes deep into the murder, uncovering a secret life and suspects in shocking places. When the killer viciously ups the ante, Rita decides to end this lethal game. She lays it all on the line for the highest stakes ever—her life.
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.