Lisa Scottoline Breaks Your Heart With DAMAGED

Book Review - Jackie K Cooper
DAMAGED by Lisa Scottoline

Just when you think Lisa Scottoline has peaked in her career as a writer she brings out a new novel, DAMAGED, and moves that notch up one more level. The new level is created by a story that has more heart, more suspense, and more personal detail than any of Scottoline's previous books. You have heard other books called page turners but this book made me want to read straight through without doing any of my work; luckily my work is reading books.

The heart of the book concerns the relationship between Patrick O'Brien and Mary DiNunzio. Patrick is ten years old and has dyslexia. Even though he is in the fourth grade he can not read, a deficiency of which he is much ashamed. He is also small for his age and is thus a perfect target for bullying by some of his classmates, His grandfather seeks legal help from Rosato and DiNunzio. Although Mary has other cases she is working, and a wedding she is planning, she decides to take the case.

Shortly thereafter an aide at the school files suit against Patrick's grandfather and the school system alleging Patrick attacked him with a pair of scissors. Mary believes Patrick is totally innocent of such an allegation and is determined to protect him and get him exonerated. In short order he has not only become her client but she has also welcomed him into her heart.

Heart is the keystone of this story. Scottoline has written several previous Rosato & DiNunzio novels but never has she laid bare so much of Mary's personal life and feelings. This time out we get more information about Mary the woman than we do of Mary the lawyer, and this gives the reader more ownership of the story.

Patrick is one of the most endearing characters Scottoline has ever created. He is smart but vulnerable, intelligent but naive. His brave personality combined with his learning disabilities makes the reader feel just as protective of him as Mary does. All through the story you are goading Mary to do more and more for Patrick and the poor woman is moving and fighting just as fast and as hard as she can.

Scottoline moves her story along at a quick pace but she takes the time to fill in the blanks in order to create the emotions the story deserves. This is not just a novel about a legal case, it is also a love story on a variety of levels. In this way it feeds your mind and squeezes your heart. If you aren't sniffling in the last few chapters, or outright bawling, well you didn't fall into this story the way I did.

Scottoline might write stories in the future that surpass this one in plot and information, but she will be hard pressed to ever create another situation that touches the heart like DAMAGED does. I have been reading the work of Lisa Scottoline for some time now and I have enjoyed all of her efforts. DAMAGED is the novel that is now my favorite and the one that best shows her writing skills and her heart.

DAMAGED is published by St Martin's Press. It contains 416 pages and sells for $27.99.

Jackie K Cooper