Linda's Reviews > Dirty Blonde

Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline
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May 13, 2012

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bookshelves: fiction, legal-thriller, mystery-thriller
Read from May 07 to 09, 2012

The main character in Scottoline's Dirty Blonde is one of the most unexpected heroines I've encountered in a long time: a freshly minted young judge who's still establishing herself on the bench, and whose personal life revolves around some decidedly less than high-brow extracurriculars. When two participants in a civil case meet a violent end in the aftermath of one of her decisions from the bench, Judge Cate Fante falls into the circle of suspicion, which only intensifies when her dirty secrets are discovered and hit the papers.

Once again Scottoline keeps the tension taut and the pages turning with just enough suspects and intrigues. And at the same time, she manages to weave in stories of two human dramas that are altogether too real. The first is the subplot of Cate's closest friend, a mother raising an autistic toddler on her own, trying to cope with the challenges of a world that is often unfriendly to such children, at best, and very rarely an accommodating place for children with needs like her son's. Second, Scottoline also deserves kudos for incorporating in her story the tragedy of Centralia, PA, a town that was devastated by an underground coal seam fire that started in 1962 and has burned unabated ever since. Local officials failed to address the fire properly when it was still manageable, and now it cannot be controlled. Scottoline's verbal imagery of sulfuric steam rising from earthquake-style fissures in the ground, and the all-encompassing, dizzying stench of noxious chemicals in the air rival any photos of the devastation left behind. (Photos included on Scottoline's website show broken links as I write this, but I was able to find this blog post, which includes several representative photos.)
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