Mary DiNunzio --- South Philadelphia attorney, good Catholic girl and dutiful daughter --- is just trying to keep her head above water. She’s handling a dispute over Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra between her father and his cronies and a crotchety woman from The Neighborhood; she’s trying to find hope and assistance for a learning-disabled boy and his desperate mother; and she’s dealing with any other number of cases that seem to require her constant attention.
That’s why the last thing she needs is a blast from her past in the form of Trish Gambone. Trish, a former schoolmate of Mary’s from St. Maria Goretti High School and leader of a group referred to by Mary as the Mean Girls, now wants Mary’s help. She’s scared of her abusive mobster boyfriend, but getting away from him is a whole other story.
Of course Mary can’t help but feel a bit triumphant that Trish, the girl who “flunked Religion, chain-smoked her way through Spanish I twice and reigned as the quintessential Mean Girl,” is looking for assistance from her, “the myopic, straight-A president of the National Honor Society, the May Queen, and the all-around Most Likely to Achieve Sainthood.” Maybe her life has turned around after all.
In spite of the fact that Trish wants Mary’s help, she still has not learned that you catch more flies with honey. It takes only a few minutes for Trish to revert to insulting Mary and making her feel like the “Holy Mary” she was in high school.
Nonetheless, when Trish goes missing along with her boyfriend, Mary pulls out all the stops to find her, dead or alive. Hopefully alive. Assisting her in her search for Trish are the other three Mean Girls --- Giulia, Yolanda and Missy --- even though they often turn out to be more of a hindrance than a help.
Mary seems to find herself in one pickle after another. Public opinion in the South Philly neighborhood where she grew up, where her parents still live and where everybody knows everybody else’s business seems to sway from one extreme to another. One day she’s a saint, the next a sinner.
The search for Trish wreaks havoc in every area of Mary’s life, even affecting her working relationship with her boss, Bennie Rosato. Luckily, sidekick and co-worker Judy is there for moral support as Mary makes her way on her search for Trish.
To further complicate matters, Mary has a boyfriend of sorts. He seems very interested in her and is a great guy, but ghosts of Mary’s loves from the past keep coming up to haunt her and make her hesitant to get involved with him. She even has to face a deep dark secret from high school that she has managed to shove aside for all these years.
LADY KILLER is a fun book with lots of adventure. Mary’s close friends and family really add to this story, and the cast of characters in her Italian neighborhood makes sure there’s never a dull moment. Despite all of Mary’s troubles, the fact that she has a good foundation and reliable people to turn to makes this a comforting and enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on December 30, 2010