The Vendetta Defense

Published March 3, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of The Vendetta Defense by Lisa Scottoline

Overview from Judy Carrier, an associate at the Philadelphia law firm of Rosato & Associates, takes on the defense of an old Italian pigeon-keeper who killed because of a 50-year-old vendetta. A brilliant legal scholar, Judy believes she knows the definition of justice. By after hearing Pigeon Tony’s confession of murder, she’s not so sure. The subtle complexities of the case point to the fact that he really doesn’t deserve to go to prison. the pressure builds as she tires to mount a convincing defense. With help from Tony’s grandson, a terrific guy and a hunk to boot, it looks as if Judy just may get her client off the hook. Until the vendetta comes to life and a deadly case of murder takes an even deadlier twist.

My Review:

The Vendetta Defense was the first Lisa Scottoline book I have ever read. Hard to believe but true. And I had mixed feeling about it even before reading it. I had read that Ms. Scottoline based a lot of her characters and plot lines around Italian Americans and Italy– this made me anxious to read her stuff. On the other hand, I am not a big fan of lawyers or legal thrillers though I do read them occasionally. Plus I wondered if this whole vendetta business was somehow going to turn into a mafia thing and thus turn me off.

I needn’t have worried. This book kept me entertained throughout and it was easier than I suspected to sympathize with the defendant’s vendetta defense. My antagonism to lawyers was mostly overcome by Scottoline’s well-drawn character of Judy Carrier, the defense attorney in this case.

As one of the only non-Italian characters in this book, she eagerly takes on the Pigeon Tony’s case, only to find herself as a fish out of water in his South Philly neighborhood. Not mention his dark memories of life in World War II Italy. Pigeon Tony admits that he killed Angelo Coluzzi just as the police said he did, though he says it was not murder but a vendetta. Tony believes that the man killed his wife as well as his son and daughter-in-law and decides to put an end to Coluzzi once and for all when Coluzzi threatens to kill the only family he has left– his grandson Frank.

At first Judy’s case seems hopeless. Several witnesses testify that they heard Pigeon Tony tell Coluzzi, “I am gonna kill you,” just before Coluzzi is found dead with Pigeon Tony standing over him. But Judy won’t give up. Eventually, as she gets closer to the truth, she finds herself as a target of the Coluzzi family, nearly losing her own life as she tries to get justice for her client.

Twists and turns in the plot had me guessing what would happen next up to the very end. Scottoline knows how to write a good story and make sympathetic characters out of those I was trying hard not to like. I think most readers will enjoy this one as much as I did, maybe more if they don’t have that anti-lawyer bias.

Despite a couple of things that I didn’t like I am highly recommending this one. The characters are great and they tell a good story. The back story about Italy is also interesting and not overdone. I think you will agree. Let me know what you think.

The comedy that seemed to come from the characters themselves surprised me and had me in stitches on a couple of occasions so I wanted to share it with you. Here are a couple of quotes.

“The reporter scribbled  quickly. ‘Aren’t you trying to send a message to the Coluzzi’s?’

Judy hesitated only a minute. ‘You’re damn right I am.’ p. 166

“‘You want coffee?’ Mr. DiNunzio was holding the pot in the air.

Feet nodded, his mouth full of mystery pastry. ‘We made fresh. The girl showed us how.’

‘Feet, you’re not supposed to say ‘girl’ anymore,” Mr. DiNunzio said, placing his pastry carefully on his sheet of legal paper.

‘Why not?’ Feet shrugged. ‘Whatsa matter with ‘girl’? I like girls.’

‘You don’t call them girls anymore. They’re women.’

‘Hey, if she’s got her own teeth, she’s a girl.'” p.208

Contains: some language and violence.


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