If you’ve never read any of Lisa Scottoline’s South-Philadelphia-based Rosato & DiNunzio thrillers, Damaged would not be a bad place to start. (Note: I really like all the Rosato & DiNunzio books, though I don’t particularly recommend Scottoline’s so-called emotional thrillers. But maybe you shouldn’t trust me on that judgment.)
As is common with legal thrillers, Scottoline’s books tend to combine legal proceedings with mystery. But, compared to most authors of such books, she writes more deeply about character development and about a sense of place: South Philly in her case. Some of her characters are pretty much caricatures, but that mostly serves to tie together one novel to others in the series and doesn’t really hurt the sense that she’s otherwise writing about real people. And the representation of South Philly is always palpable. In this hefty novel (about 450 pages), you also learn a lot about what can happen — in school and at home — to kids with learning disabilities, as the main theme in this case involves a 10-year-old dyslexic boy.
Scottoline always presents a fairly nuanced view of lawyers, with the protagonists countering the standard stereotypes. Mary DiNunzio’s antagonist, however, fits the usual clichés, and you may find him irritating. (You’re supposed to, of course.)
One reviewer (from South Dakota of all places) wrote:
It seems like our country is overrun by bullies of all types.
Well, yes. Even in positions of power. (Note the date when I’m writing this.) “What,” you ask, “is the connection to the story of Damaged?” It might not be obvious, so go read the book!