on April 10, 2002
I just don't see what others like about this book. It's classified as a legal thriller, but aside from a brief (and unbelievable) car chase, there was no "thrill" to be had, and the legal parts were dull and heavily peppered with the obligatory "Objection!--Sustained/Overruled. I'll allow it." dialogue.
I found three main faults with this book:
1. The writing - The style wavered between unneccessarily descriptive, to unimaginative and unoriginal. At times I felt as if I were rereading parts because they were so bland. The dialogue was awkward and strained, as if the people weren't actually talking to each other.
2. The characters - Often one-dimensional and stereotypical. The salty and stubborn ex-cop named Lou (aren't there any ex-cops named Alan or Stuart?). The aggressive, gritty, and determined female attorney stopping at nothing to prove her case...and predictably given a man's name "Bennie." The shallowly written bad cops. The blurry, weak, almost feminine boyfriend. Even the dog was hackneyed - a golden retriever named Bear. Come on, doesn't anyone have an Akita named Sasquatch or a Boxer called Rocky?
3. The story - Predictably predictable. I knew what was going to happen, and frankly didn't really feel like putting much effort into reading it...but I did. And that's the whole point. I've read (and enjoyed) many predictable thrillers, but the sour combination of unimaginative characters and flat writing make reading this book extremely tiresome.
There's a quote on the cover of the book from some dolt proclaiming Lisa Scottoline as "the female Grisham." Well, I don't know what book this person read, but the only similarity between the two is that both authors' books are classified as legal thrillers. Sure, Grisham's stories are often trite, but his characters at least have some originality, and the writing and dialogue is often fun, if not simplistic. Mistaken Identity is an unoriginal, dull, predictable, and ultimately tiresome read. If you haven't read it, skip it. If you've managed to read it, just be glad that you now know what author not to read next time.
on March 8, 2000
It's disappointng to read a book by a former "trial lawyer at a prestigious firm" which inserts plot devices which would not happen in a real criminal trial.
In a real prosecution, if the defendant wanted to fire her attorney and hire a new attorney, the old attorney would have no grounds to oppose the motion. Nor would any competent trial counsel go looking for evidence by herself, without bringing along an investigator who could testify as to what was found.
When the motion for a continuance was denied, it's true that such a motion can't be "appealed," but there IS a writ process available where the denial of the motion could be brought to the appellate court's attention.
I also doubt that a trial court would literally "strike" testimony heard by the jury from the appellate record, as the author suggests happens.
The book is over-long for the writing, plot and characters. The denouement of the "defendant" plot line, end of chapter 96, is both tasteless and illogical. The author tries some plot twists like Crichton in _Disclosure_, but just doesn't pull them off. Instead of "now I see what was happening," the reader feels, "the author intentionally lied to me."
on October 27, 2001
Have you ever read a Grisham legal-thriller ?. In my opinion Mr. Grisham has provided an involuntary strong influence on Lisa Scottoline, this book looks like a copycat but cannot attain the level of the former writer. With a quick pace marked by short chapters and with a poor language improper for a legal-thriller, the author is determined to trap the reader into the plot and scores, because as the pages go by, she learns how to exploit the story setting the mystery out and then turning it into tight suspense which snowballs toward the last chapters, but when you finish the book and look at it as a whole in retrospect, it is easy to perceive loose ends during the course of the events as the author falls sometimes in traps set by her own creative ideas, leaving some important situations unresolved or sidestepped, this go hand to hand with the flabby character drawing and shows a definitive poor writing style.
on March 18, 2003
This was my first Lisa Scottoline book, and I'm not sure if I'll continue with her works or not.
My main problem was the length of this book. A novel is 300 pages or so. At close to 600 pages, this started to feel like a chore to finish, especially since there was so much I felt could've been condensed or omitted to make it more manageable.
It was also hard for me to get into it because I found the character of Bennie so unlikeable. She thinks her client might be the twin she never knew she had, yet she constantly refers to her by her last name? That just didn't sit well with me, nor did the almost condescending way she treated her associates and boyfriend. I also found it unbelievable that someone who was supposed to be so smart and ethical would not only fall for the "you're my twin" bit with no proof, but that she wouldn't walk off the case when she came to know all the horrible things Alice had done. A lot of the events also seemed too contrived and convenient.
Ms. Scottoline really should concentrate on paring down her books. That would go a long way to increasing the star rating.
on February 13, 2002
Here we have Scottoline's sixth offering, and no exception to a repertoire that only improves as it enlarges. In this book, (Ms.) Bennie Rosato herself enjoys the limelight occupied by her associates Mary and Judy from other stories (although they both appear with small parts herein); so it's nice we finally get to learn much more about the principal herself. Moreover, the author baits our hook in chapter 1 that the murder defendant, Alice Connelly, may be Bennie's unknown identical twin - and appearances at a minimum seem convincing. We're kept in limbo on this question until chapter 41 (of 44), adding a great deal of suspense to a story otherwise already pretty compelling. Even the book's title vacillates in our minds as first a clue then a red herring re the twin mystery. But while we get the twin question settled finally by DNA (one way or the other), unlike so many tales of this genre, several plot elements are left to further pondering at the end. In fact, that the book ends on a situation hardly totally settled may speak to perhaps the ethical issues the Publisher often asserts is part of Scottoline's appeal.
So, another good member of the growing Scottoline roster (now up to 8), with all of suspense, plot, and a sophisticated ending to entertain and keep pages turning late into the night.
on November 15, 2001
Lisa Scottoline, Mistaken Identity (Harper, 1999)
Three pages into Lisa Scottoline's sixth novel, Mistaken Identity, I wasn't sure I was going to make it to page ten. Scottoline opens the novel with her protagonist, Bennie Rosato, walking into the county prison where her newest client is in residence, mentally rattling off statistics that we've all heard a million times, most of which are, to say the least, on shaky ground as far as their worth is concerned. It is a horrible opening; thankfully, it is also short. The book improves tremedously on page four, and stays improved for the next five hundred plus pages.
Rosato's newest client is Alice Connolly, who greets her with the rather surprising revelation that Connolly is Rosato's twin, despite that the two have never met before. The twin thing certainly throws a few extra monkeywrenches into the works of the normal courtroom/detective story, not that it needed any. Connolly is accused of killing her live-in boyfriend, a Philadelphia police officer, and makes nasty hints that other cops are framing her. The first half of the book alternates between Rosato trying to figure out if there really is a conspiracy and trying to figure out whether Connolly actually killed her boyfriend, as the two things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. This section is standard mystery fare; if you're a fan of the genre, it'll work for you.
Where Scottoline shines is once the case gets to court. When you reach page 300 and they're getting ready for trial, you start wondering how Scottoline is going to fill the second half of the book. She does so brilliantly, better even than many nonfiction true crime books cover trials. In fact, the only book I can think of that goes into this much detail of the trial, specifically the dialogue, is Bataille's <i>The Trial of Gilles de Rais</i> (in which the second half of the book is simply unexpurgated trial transcripts). In both Bataille's work of nonfiction and Scottoline's novel, we are given solid evidence that cutting out the supposedly extraneous material of a trial, a rather common method of speeding up books/movies/TV shows, may be good for cutting time, but that all the other stuff is going to be just as gripping to the devoted reader of courtroom-procedure books. Scottoline takes us, line by line, through a cross-examination instead of summarizing. It's wonderful. Would that more courtroom-drama authors did such things. Maybe, as Scottoline gains the audience she deserves, it'll catch on.
The beginning of the book is enough to make me drop it a notch, but still a highly recommended read. *** 1/2
on February 12, 2000
When I finished the Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer I was sure I would never find a book as contrived and with so many gaping plot holes as it had. So you can imagine my surprise, and disappointment, when over one hundred books later I found the worst book in this genre ever, "Mistaken Identity". Everything about this book was wrong from the patronizing, obnoxious main character who treats the associates in her firm, opposing counsel, and her boyfriend like dogs to the glaring plot holes that left me wondering how this writer is so popular. I will say three particular plot devices really left me shaking my head: (1) a big break in the case coming when the main character was able to tell who a witness was looking at across a packed court room; (2) the main character discovering someone's identity when a piece of paper with the persons picture on it falls out of a book unto the floor; and (3) having to rely on the dreaded mysterious informant to fill in details that the author could not find any other way to bring out. Please don't wast your time reading this nonsense -- and instead try the wonderful and very underrated Baine Kerr or Donna Tartt.
on October 12, 2000
I became very interested in this book when I read the first two chapters in a promotional. The plot about the lawyer finding a heretofore unknown twin sister in jail was engaging and the initial writing caught my interest. HOWEVER, when I finally got to read the book itself, I couldn't stomach it. What bothers me the most is the massive amount of profanity used by the characters. Call me naive, (although after 20 years in the military, I can't say that I am) but I didn't know that any literature that was considered fit to be sold to the general public had so much bad language in it. Also, it's important to me in a book to be able to like at least some of the main characters, and by that I mean that they should have some admirable character traits, or at the least, engaging personalities. I have to admit that I've skimmed the sections with the worst language, which is much of the book, but I haven't found anyone likeable yet. I'd skip on this one!
on April 22, 2003
While this book was a little long, I sped through it in a matter of days. Bennie Rosato returns in this story of family relationships and moral ambiguities. Bennie is asked to give legal aid to a woman who resembles her and claims to be her twin. Alice Connoly also claims to be inncocent of her boyfriend's murder and the victim of a police conspiracy. Alice's case was originally taken by a law firm that did nothing to help prepare her for trial, even though she was arrested nearly a year ago. It is now one week to trial and the judge refuses to grant Bennie any more time to prepare. All of this points to a conspiracy, but Bennie begins to think Alice may just be a good storyteller. Bennie has no idea if this woman is her twin and the more she learns of her look-alike's life, the more unsavory her character becomes. Like Scottline's Legal Tender, this is suspenseful and fast-paced with rich secondary characters.
on January 21, 2001
This is the 6th Lisa Scottoline book I have read and except for some loose ends and sometimes the language, I think it is the best one I have read. Bennie Rosato is a very good lawyer, she is contacted by Alice Connolly who claims to be her twin. Alice is in jail for a murder she says she did not do. Bennie takes the case and then begins to uncover a conspiracy between the cops involved an attorney and even the judge. A retired cop, named Lou, is very helpful. I hope he is used again. The case goes to trial, you don't know until the last if Connolly is guilty or not or is she is a twin to Rosato or not.And after the trail, what happenes to Connolly. It all has a very good twist to the ending, at least one I did not expect. The action moves better than some of her other books and I enjoyed it very much. Would love to write the ending as it is very shocking but you will have to read the book.