Author: Lisa Scottoline
Series: #4 in the Rosato and DiNunzio series
Publisher: St Martin's Press
First Published: August 16, 2016
First Line: "Mary DiNunzio hurried down the pavement, late to work because she had to stop by their new caterer and try crabmeat dumplings with Asian pears."
Book Description from GoodReads: From the New York Times bestselling author comes the much-anticipated fourth book in the Rosato and DiNunzio thriller series.
Damaged finds Mary DiNunzio, partner at the all-female law firm of Rosato and DiNunzio, embroiled in one of her most heartbreaking cases yet. Suing the Philadelphia school district to get help for a middle school boy with emotional issues, Mary ends up becoming the guardian ad litem of her minor client. As she goes up against Nick Machiavelli, her opposing counsel and the dark prince of South Philly lawyers who will use any means necessary to defeat her, she becomes more and more invested in the case—and puts everything, including her engagement to her longtime boyfriend, on the line.
My Rating: 3.5 stars
My Review: If you're like me and went into this book expecting a suspenseful, nail-biter of a read you may get a different kind of book than you were expecting. Instead, the suspense aspect plays second fiddle to Mary's personal life and her deep and sudden desire to foster a ten-year-old boy (whom she's known for a matter of days) a mere two weeks before her wedding.
What I appreciated about this book was the great information (without feeling preachy or teachy) that Scottoline provides about learning disabilities - specifically dyslexia and all its implications. As a mother of a teenage son with ADD I appreciated that she incorporated IEP (Individual Education Plan) into her story line and how a child can be helped within the educational system if given the opportunity. She also highlights the challenges some special needs children face as well as the complexities of the foster care system and some of the legal implications involving youth without guardians.
This is my first time meeting Mary DiNunzio and although she has a heart of gold I found her surprisingly bland and naive. She has this sudden desire to become an interim foster parent for a boy she barely knows which I found hard to believe. They didn't have enough time to forum such a deep and realistic attachment to each other and readers aren't given a clear idea of why Mary wants this child so badly.
For a smart women with a law degree Mary was also naive about some aspects of the legal system (what lawyer has to have a Chinese wall explained to them?). On the other end of the character spectrum we have Bennie Rosato, Mary's legal partner, who was a breath of fresh air. And even though she was barely in the book, I loved her 'tell it like it is' demeanor and wish she had been used more in the plot.
While the focus isn't on suspense as much as I would have liked, Scottoline supplies a few good red herrings to spice things up. Readers will wonder if young Patrick is as innocent as he appears to be or if he's the manipulative, sinister child some people peg him for. Overall, I'd still consider this book a page turner and quite an easy read but it definitely had a different focus than I was expecting from Scottoline.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.