Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review of "Betrayed" by Lisa Scottoline


Judy Carrier, an attorney with Philadelphia's Rosato & Associates law firm, is having a rough time. Her beloved Aunt Barb, diagnosed with breast cancer, is preparing for a double mastectomy. Judy's experiencing friction with her mom, who's in town to help Barb. Judy's boyfriend Frank is behaving like a clueless lout. And Judy's boss, Bennie Rosato, has saddled her with a stack of work on behalf of asbestos firms that she's morally opposed to. To top it off, Aunt Barb's companion and gardening assistant, Iris - an undocumented worker from Mexico who also works for a mushroom grower - dies in suspicious circumstances,

Aunt Barb wants to find out what really happened to Iris before her surgery, so she and Judy traipse all over town asking questions of Iris's priest, friends, and co-workers, but they can't get satisfactory answers. Then Judy discovers a secret stash of money that Iris apparently hid at Barb's house and things go from bad to worse. More deaths occur, Judy is attacked, Iris's friends disappear or clam up, and so on. It seems clear that Iris was involved in some nefarious goings on.

My problem with the book is that the investigation concerning Iris seems to take a back seat to what's going on in Judy's personal life. The story is more like Judy's personal drama than a mystery/thriller. Judy is constantly fretting about Aunt Barb, which - though understandable - isn't as compelling as the criminal investigation. Moreover Judy repeatedly hassles with Frank, who's depicted as an almost cartoonish character. Frank is so dismissive, self-absorbed, and childish that it seems unbelievable that Judy could ever have fallen for him in the first place, much less lived with him for years. It seems like Scottoline - wanting to move forward with Judy's personal story - doesn't want the reader to like Frank.

There are a lot of characters in the book, some better developed than others. Thus it's a little hard to follow who did what. Judy eventually figures out what's going on and the book has an exciting, dramatic climax. For me, Scottoline's earlier books - which concentrate more on Rosato's law firm - were more enjoyable. Still, fans who want to know more about Judy's personal life will probably like this book.

Rating: 2.5 stars

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