Summary and book reviews of Killer Smile by Lisa Scottoline

Killer Smile

by Lisa Scottoline

Killer Smile by Lisa Scottoline X
Killer Smile by Lisa Scottoline
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  • First Published:
    May 2004, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2005, 448 pages

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Book Summary

A stunning new tale filled with witty dialogue, vibrant characters, and breakneck pacing, in which true-life history reinforces Scottoline's hallmark themes of justice and family.

Everybody around lawyer Mary DiNunzio has decided she isn't allowed to be a Young Widow anymore, even though she didn't know there was an official cutoff. They're all trying to fix her up -- her South Philly Italian parents, her best friend Judy Carrier, even the office security guard.

All Mary wants to do is immerse herself in a case everybody else calls "The History Channel", a pro bono representation of the Brandolini estate. The roots of the matter sink deep into the past, when Amadeo Brandolini emigrated to Philadelphia, started a family, and built up a small fishing business. At the outbreak of World War II, Brandolini was arrested by the FBI as part of a mass internment of Italian-Americans and was sent to a camp in Montana, where he eventually committed suicide. Now, more than sixty years later, his son's estate hires Mary to sue for reparations.

Mary vows to vindicate Amadeo even though it won't be easy. With only a lock of hair, an old wallet, and a sheet of paper filled with odd doodles to go on, the tenacious lawyer begins to research the case but finds instead puzzling new questions. Someone doesn't want Mary to find the truth, and before long, her life is threatened. Suddenly, the quiet, squeaky-clean good girl who never left Mercer Street is risking life and limb to finger a killer and lay a beloved ghost to rest.

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline delivers a stunning new tale filled with witty dialogue, vibrant characters, and breakneck pacing, in which true-life history reinforces her hallmark themes of justice and family. As entertaining as it is poignant, Killer Smile is a surefire bestseller from a writer at the peak of her talents.

"Where do you get your ideas?"

It's the most common question people ask me, and the answer for Killer Smile is simple:

From the heart.

The idea for my new book came to me when my father, shortly before he passed away last year, revealed to me a family secret - that my grandparents had been registered as "enemy aliens" during World War II. My grandparents had violated no law, but they were Italian-born and had to register as enemies, under presidential orders better-known for registering and interning Japanese-Americans. This obscure footnote, both personal and historical, inspired me to do the research that would begin with a helpful librarian at the Library Company of Philadelphia, an independent research library, and send me to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and finally to Fort Missoula in Montana. In the process, I learned that 600,000 Italian-Americans registered as enemy aliens and 10,000 were imprisoned in internment camps during that time.

I spun that fact of U.S. and family history into Killer Smile, which is a fast-paced thriller about murder, family, and justice, which stars lawyer Mary DiNunzio. The plot? Mary gets a terrifying telephone call while she's working late, then finds a shadow lurking at her front door. When someone close to her turns up dead, she begins to suspect that the case she's been working on - involving the suicide of an Italian-American in the internment camp at Fort Missoula - may not be ancient history after all.

That's Killer Smile. I believe that readers will learn something from the book, get scared by it, and even laugh out loud - and ultimately, not be able to put it down.

Killer Smile is the book I was born to write.

Lisa Scottoline

ONE



"Rosato & Associates," Mary DiNunzio said into the receiver, then kicked herself for answering the phone. The caller was Premenstrual Tom, a man who wanted to sue the Philadelphia Police Department, the United States Congress, and a local cantaloupe. He'd been calling the office at all hours, and Mary felt sorry for him. He was obviously off his meds and had reached one of the few lawyers in the city who wouldn't sue fruit.

"This is Mr. Thomas Cott!" he shouted. "Who's this?"

"I'm Mary DiNunzio. We spoke yesterday—"

"Get me Ms. Benedetta Rosato!"

"Ms. Rosato is gone for the day, sir." Mary checked her watch. 10:16 P.M. Everyone had gone home hours ago, and until now, the offices had been blessedly quiet. "The office is closed."

"Then what are you doing there, Ms. Mary DiNunzio?"

Good question, Mr. Thomas Cott.
Mary was working late again, reading until her brown eyes turned red and her contacts dried to the crispness of breakfast ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Mary feels a little bit like "everywoman" to Lisa. Do you think this is true? Does it make her more believable? How about more likable? Can you see a bit of Mary in the women you know? Do their necks get red splotches when they are nervous too?

  2. Do you believe you can find true love on a blind date? Do you think your friends and family would be able to pick out the perfect mate for you? Do you have a horrific blind date story that you are willing to share? Did you like Mary with Bachelor #1, Bachelor #2, or Bachelor #3?

  3. Were you surprised to learn that Italian Americans were interned during World War II? Do you think the government was ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

If you're new to the series this is as good a place as any to start - in fact an excellent place as Scottoline (rhymes with tortellini) really seems to put her heart and soul into this book, but here is the series in order for those who are interested in such things   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Scottoline skillfully weaves a complicated, gripping and fast-paced tale, at turns comical, nerve-wracking and enlightening.

Booklist - Mary Frances Wilkens
Expect another hit from Scottoline, who has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that legal thrillers are not a male-only subgenre.

Library Journal - Stacy Alesi
While it's chock-full of Scottoline's trademark murder, mayhem, and merriment, this time she has a more important and personal story to tell-that of the little-known internment camps for Italian Americans during World War II.....Highly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews
No matter who carries the ball at Rosato & Associates, Scottoline keeps it fast, fleet, and funny. Her Philadelphia is both dangerous and aglow with the promise of justice and hot new men who'll steal your heart--if they don't kill you first.

Reader Reviews

Selene

I read the review of this book which was great so I was expecting alot. It seemed bogged down in the middle, and the story not really exceptional.

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Beyond the Book

Scottoline (the last syllable rhymes with tortellini) is Italian American. All her books (except the most recent - see below) feature the women of the all-female Philadelphia law firm of Rosato and Associaties, but the novels tend to focus on different characters. In Killer Smile Mary DiNunzio is center stage with a pro-bono case that draws attention to the plight of the approximate 10,000 Italian-Americans who were imprisoned by the FBI during World War II, following Roosevelt's signature on Proclamation Number 2527 which followed the earlier proclamations #2525 (Japanese) and #2526 (German) in branding approximately 600,000 non-naturalized Italians as potential "enemy aliens."

Scottoline's Bibliography:
Everywhere That Mary Went,...

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