books · Fiction · reading

The Vendetta Defense by Lisa Scottoline

Judy Carrier agrees to take on the case of ‘Pigeon’ Tony, an elderly pigeon racer who has been arrested for the murder of Angelo Coluzzi, a neighbor and a lifetime nemesis. From the rolling lush countryside of Fascist Italy to the sunny corporate offices of South Philadelphia, an Italian vendetta that is three generations old is rushing towards its bloody culmination. Caught in the crossfire, Judy Carrier finds it impossible to let go, especially since her heart strings are getting tugged at by ‘Pigeon’ Tony’s grandson. But the Colluzi clan doesn’t let go so easily either, albeit for a completely different reason. Carrier finds herself defending a murder client despite her misgivings and with the odds stacked against her, she will need all the good karma she can get, in order to stay alive by the end of it all.


Let me just start by saying, The Vendetta Defense is like the love child of a Mills and Boon and an all-female Perry Mason cast with bits of the Godfather thrown in for good measure. It’s pure entertainment and serves its purpose well. You’ll be hooked, despite the cliches (hunky handsome, ruggedly good looking hero who makes our protagonist swoon, a sixty-odd years old vendetta that needs to be honored above and beyond the law, immigrant Italian corporations with shady dealings and a host of bulky, sunglass-ed bodyguards who’ll shoot at the back of your car while they give you a high speed chase through the Little Italy suburbs of Philadelphia where people don’t speak up because the police means little or nothing to them and spinning court cases with a twist at every end that need  the rule book to be thrown out the window while you’re at it). Yes this book has got all the stuff in the parenthesis but it combines them together in a refreshing manner. You’ll be smiling at places, but at other places you’ll shake your head at the naive story of the book. However, you can choose to be entertained because through the slippery spots this book pulls through just fine. It has its cliches and it has its niche in the book world but most of it won’t make you roll your eyes anyway. So that’s a good sign.

The book is mostly about Judy Carrier’s lawyer-ing but it includes a back-story whenever we are flung far into flashback with Pigeon Tony as he reminisces about life in Italy. I particularly liked his little story with the exchange of tomatoes by a coy couple as they start to fall in love. There are tiny references to the war-torn Italy under Mussolini as well. Another part I liked was when Judy Carrier finds her naked self-portrait slashed through, end to end, in a ruthless bid to scare her off. Can you make any guesses about whether or not it works out?

When it comes to the lawyer bits however, this book falls a bit short. You would not expect your lawyer to be this inexperienced or this emotional. I do not think any law firm would give Judy Carrier the pats on the backs that her boss (who is supposed to be a tough cookie) does in the first half of the book. It is only after a certain blow-up in a corporate office, that Judy seems to dust off and start over, kick-starting her rusting lawyer-brains in the process. An amateur Perry Mason, she shifts gears after showing you how much reason you have to not to take her seriously. None of the other characters here take on any more depth than that, either but you can sit through it.

Read if you’re looking for some light entertainment! 🙂


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