Bennie Rosato is a suit-wearing lawyer who lives by the straight and narrow. As Bennie's identical twin sister, Alice Connolly looks just like Bennie, but her moral compass is 180 degrees off Bennie's. Alice delights in her own slutty wardrobe. She doesn't care that she can't seem to hold a respectable job, although she does well selling drugs for her boyfriend, Q. When Alice dallies with one of Q's drug-runners, Jimmy, Q murders Jimmy.
Realizing that Q will kill her soon, Alice decides to become Bennie. Her plan is rather complicated. She breaks into a stranger's home and invites Bennie for dinner. When Bennie succumbs to the Rohypnol-laced wine, Alice hauls her out into her car, driving her to a distant location where she buries Bennie in a box. (Alice doesn't kill Bennie because she is squeamish about seeing her own face on a dead body.) Alice intends to become Bennie long enough to appropriate Bennie's considerable financial assets. Once she has millions in an offshore bank account, Alice will vanish.
While Alice begins living in Bennie's tony three-story row house, Bennie becomes conscious. She realizes that Alice has sealed her in a wooden box and knows she is buried somewhere. Screaming and hammering on the lid are useless and exhausting. In a lull between frantic actions, she reflects on how she finally realized she had a twin. She grew up the only child of a single mother who had suffered from mental illness. When Bennie was summoned to defend a woman charged with murder, she knew even before Alice confirmed the fact that she and the defendant were identical twins. Bennie successfully defended Alice in court while discovering that her mother adopted out one of her twin infants. While Bennie tried to compensate for being the chosen twin, Alice only sporadically contacted her twin --- only to make trouble for Bennie every time.
Now Bennie rouses and loses consciousness. She suffers hallucinations in between her frantic attempts to somehow tunnel through the top of the box. Her terror and hopelessness are magnified as she fights against her dwindling oxygen stores, even as she hears a growling animal clawing to get into her box and kill her. Back in Bennie's home and at her law office, Alice is managing to fool everyone, although it is sometimes a challenge. When Bennie's ex shows up, Alice is certainly not above letting the good-looking man assume she is Bennie.
Mary DiNunzio is a lawyer in Bennie's firm. A young widow, Mary is unsettled by her latest relationship. She loves Anthony, her fiancé, but wonders if it isn't too soon to try to love another man. She is also concerned about her parents, especially after Fiorella Bucatina, a lovely widow who is distantly related to her family, comes to visit. Fiorella, who claims she can perform magic spells, seems to be a little too interested in Mary's father. While Mary's personal life is unsettled, she is pinning her professional hopes on becoming a partner in Bennie's firm.
As always, Lisa Scottoline sets up an intriguing premise. Identical twins are inherently fascinating --- and she makes the ability for one twin to step into the life of the other (a tricky maneuver, to say the very least!) feel logical, with Alice cleverly side-stepping several seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Although some plot points make it difficult for readers to suspend disbelief and cast members don't always act in character, Scottoline's many fans will keep turning pages late into the night, anxious to discover how Bennie handles her deadly predicament and the complications that follow.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 26, 2011