Cate Fante is hearing the first big case of her newly launched
career as a federal judge. It involves Richard Marz, an
unbelievably naïve lawyer who claims that Hollywood bigwig Art
Simone stole his idea for the hit TV series "Attorneys@Law." But
what little proof Marz has is sorely lacking and mostly irrelevant,
despite its intrinsic ability to tug at the jury's heartstrings.
Simone gloats smugly at the weakness of Marz's case, his open
cockiness palpable. But his smugness vanishes the night he wins the
case --- he turns up dead outside a posh Philly restaurant. That
same night, Marz simply disappears.
In a heroically rapid response, the cops put out a wide sweep for
Marz, but when they find him, he too is dead, an apparent suicide.
At the time, it seemed like simply a mistrial of justice that came
to a tragic end. However, the judge starts to have doubts about who
really killed Simone and Marz, and the judge's colleagues start to
have doubts about her. Cate's doubts gain strength when Marz's
screenwriting partner, Philadelphia PD Officer Frank Russo, takes a
couple of potshots at her. It appears that Detective Russo harbors
ill will toward the judge, not only for dismissing the case against
Simone but also because he suspects her of killing his pal Marz.
Cate finds herself fast learning inventive ways of staying
If dodging a cop turned vigilante doesn't make her life tough
enough, Cate has --- well, had --- a dangerous secret that
has just been splashed all over the newspapers. What draws her to
the dark side goes unexplained, but her foolish actions set in
motion painful circumstances for all those whose lives she has
Saying Cate shows poor judgment is like saying Osama Bin Laden
isn't real fond of the United States. Her decisions, on and off the
bench, demonstrate such immaturity and appalling lack of common
sense that it becomes hard to work up any sympathy for her. When
she finally shows some moxie, because her job is --- understandably
--- on the line, her display of grit comes pretty late in the game.
Her peers feel that a federal judge should be held to higher
standards, and the fact that Cate doesn't try to deny her tawdry
secret life does little to raise her esteem in their eyes. Calling
Judge Fante "Your Honor" is difficult after her shameful admission.
Is there any way she can redeem herself? Well, she actually does a
pretty fine job of trying.
DIRTY BLONDE is court drama just like you'd see on television.
Despite some good-sized flaws in her main character, Lisa
Scottoline manages to wrap up her story with a fair amount of
aplomb. Her fans will devour this one. It's an easy read that
tackles some controversial subjects certain to heat readers up.
Plus, Scottoline does killer conversation.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on December 29, 2010