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Scottoline writes riveting thrillers that keep me up all night, with plots that twist and turn. Harlan Coben

One boy. One lawyer. One chance for justice.

Ten-year-old Patrick O'Brien is a natural target at school. Shy, dyslexic, and small for his age, he tries to hide his first-grade reading level from everyone: from his classmates, from the grandfather who cares for him, and from the teachers who are supposed to help him. But the real trouble begins when Patrick is accused of attacking a school aide. The aide promptly quits and sues the boy, his family, and the school district. Patrick's grandfather turns to the law firm of Rosato & DiNunzio for help and Mary DiNunzio is on the case. Soon Mary becomes Patrick's true champion and his only hope for security and justice. But there is more to the story than meets the eye and Patrick might be more troubled than he seems. With twists at every turn and secrets about the family coming to light, Mary DiNunzio might have found the case that can make her a true protector, or break her heart...

With Lisa Scottoline s trademark emotional depth and fast-paced action, "Damaged" will have readers riveted to the last page as they root for the beloved characters and their fight for justice."

416 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 16, 2016

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About the author

Lisa Scottoline

100 books12.7k followers
Lisa Scottoline is a #1 bestselling and Edgar award-winning author of 33 novels. Her books are book-club favorites, and Lisa and her daughter Francesca Serritella have hosted an annual Big Book Club Party for over a thousand readers at her Pennsylvania farm, for the past twelve years. Lisa has served as President of Mystery Writers of America, and her reviews of fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She also writes a weekly column with her daughter for the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled Chick Wit, a witty take on life from a woman’s perspective, which have been collected in a bestselling series of humorous memoirs. Lisa graduated magna cum laude in three years from the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.A. in English, and cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she taught Justice and Fiction. Lisa has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets and wouldn’t have it any other way.

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172 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,365 reviews
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,035 reviews3,556 followers
July 24, 2017
Mary DiNunzio is riding high! The upcoming wedding to her true love Anthony, just weeks away. And without a wedding planner to assist, Mary is in full wedding overload! No easy task given she’s also a partner in a successful Philadelphia law firm.

Now, just to add even more onto her plate, Mary is contacted by a new client Edward. He’s requested that she represent his grandson Patrick, in a suit brought on by a teacher’s aide at Patrick’s school. What starts off as a seemingly straightforward case, quickly takes a drastic turn that totally consumes Mary both emotionally and physically.

What’s a girl to do? Mary must get her priorities straight. Marriage…career…motherhood?? She’s in for the fight of her life, but can she possibly come away with all three intact?

I've always enjoyed this series and especially the ones that feature Mary as the primary character are always my favorite! She’s quirky and fun with a huge heart! She loves her family more than anything and always puts her own happiness second to those who are important in her life. That is especially evident in this book.

This book left me smiling and looking forward to the next in the series that I already have queued up. If you’re a fan of the series don't miss this one!
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,543 reviews24.6k followers
August 7, 2016
This is the first legal thriller that I have read by Lisa Scottoline and I adored it. It is character driven and I found it did not take long before I got intensely involved in the story. The focus is on Mary DiNunzio who is getting married in two weeks. Her fiance Anthony is away and only comes into the story briefly near the end. She is a partner in her own firm with Bennie. In this case, she finds her life is in danger and it all begins when she finds herself hired by Edward O'Brien for his grandson, dyslexic 10 year old Patrick.

Patrick has been failed by his school on several counts. He has been punched in the face by a teaching assistant, Robertson, who has quit. He has been bullied by other children on an ongoing basis, with nothing being done. His educational needs have not been addressed as he is still unable to read. Not surprisingly, Patrick has deep anxiety issues and as a result vomits regularly. We later learn that Patrick has been sexually assaulted and has kept quiet about it. Patrick is an absolutely adorable boy who has been fundamentally let down.

Mary sets out to address the various issues by reporting it to the police and getting various agencies involved like the PCA, a child advocate agency for a forensic interview with Patrick. She is also taking on the school for their failures and lobbying to get Patrick transferred to a more appropriate private special educational school. In the meantime, Robertson is suing Patrick for threatening to attack him with a pair of scissors, saying that Patrick is a threatening and violent child. Robertson is represented by the villainous slime ball that is Nick Machiavelli known for his dirty and underhand practices. Nick refers to Patrick in deeply derogatory terms such as the demon seed.

Unfortunately, Edward dies and Patrick's position becomes deeply precarious. Mary is determined to make sure that Patrick does not disappear into the problematic child services and foster care. She applies to be his guardian only to find all hell breaks loose at a hearing. Worse is to come when the media begin to demonise Patrick, thanks to Nick. Mary finds herself caught up in a situation that involves murder and fraud. She is lucky to come out of it with her life.

This is a well plotted and tense story that you cannot help but get engaged with. I could not wait to find what was going to happen. The characters were well drawn and Patrick was superb. The book does a really good job in outlining the legal procedures, the various agencies, and the foster care system in such a case. Highly recommended read. Thanks to St Martin's Press for an ARC.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,421 reviews77.6k followers
February 10, 2017
Even though this is book #4 in the series, I decided to jump on board and read this first when the opportunity arose. After reading the jacket summary I figured that this would have a similar feel to the Law & Order franchise, and it definitely did. This was the equivalent of having an episode that was extended to go into greater detail about the individual characters of the case, but also a bit into the characters who are reoccurring in the series. While I’m sure there are certain points that might have been more clearly explored in previous books, I didn’t feel the least bit lost reading this as a standalone.

From my understanding, the series fluctuates between focusing more on one of the partners in the firm, and this book chose to focus on Mary DiNunzio. We do get a slight glimpse into her personal life with her fiancé, but that is mostly near the end. The bulk of the book focuses on her case handling defendant Patrick, who is a dyslexic 10 year old suffering in school and facing charges from an altercation with a teacher’s aide. The characters were fleshed out nicely and I particularly liked her creation in Nick Machiavelli; he was so wicked and so greasy that he was an easy villain to despise. There were some particularly graphic and heavy subjects involved, including the revelation of Patrick having been sexually assaulted.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve read a legal thriller and it was a breath of fresh air. This book has a very mainstream approach and I feel it showcases Scottoline’s obvious talent for writing in the genre. Based upon the titles she has chosen for the series, I’m curious if she will pursue use of the full alphabet as Sue Grafton has done with her Kinsey Millhone series; even if she doesn’t I can see this being a long term continuation with a large following. If you have been on the fence with this one I suggest giving it a go, even if you haven’t read the previous three! Really excited to see what name she chooses for book #5 and where the series will take us!

*Many thanks to Lisa for sending me a signed arc; you are a rockstar and I have placed it on my special shelf for keepsies!
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,939 reviews776 followers
December 7, 2016
DNF 35%!

Damaged's blurb made the book out to be really interesting and thrilling. However, it turned out to be a silly story with a naive and irritating main character. Mary just doesn't seem to be a very competent lawyer and the whole wedding businesses is ridiculous and boring to read about. And, the characters felt like silly caricatures from her colleagues to her friends. I should have known something was amiss when I learned that the lawyer she would be facing in this book is named Machiavelli. Seriously, that's his real last name.

I'm sorry, I have a lot of books to read and this one just didn't rock my boat!
Profile Image for Julie .
4,001 reviews58.9k followers
September 19, 2016
Damaged by Lisa Scottoline is a 2016 St. Martin’s Press publication.

This fourth installment in the Rosato and DiNunzio series is a solid legal thriller blended with a powerful and emotional family drama.

Mary DiNunzio is in the midst of pulling together the last minute details of her wedding, when she is approached to handle the case of a middle grade boy named Patrick, who is being sued for assault, when in fact he is a victim.
Patrick’s only family is his aging grandfather, who is bewildered by the entire episode, and worried sick about Patrick, who suffers from anxiety and dyslexia.
Mary is determined to see this case through for Patrick’s sake, but soon finds out her opposing counsel is none other than the notorious Nick Machiavelli, which only sweetens the challenge for Mary, until the unexpected happens and Mary’s professional life clashes with her personal life, while Patrick’s fate hangs in the balance.
I love Mary and Anthony’s big Italian family, and how they infuse humor into this emotional story that had me dabbing my eyes a little. Anytime family court is center stage, the frustration leaps off the page, because it is so hard to see children ground up by the convoluted system, where bureaucracy trumps common sense.

My heart ached for Patrick, but Mary refuses to back down and fights for him tooth and nail. In the process, she uncovers more than one motive and could find herself in serious danger.

While this story is rooted in legal hearings, and drama, both personal and professional, there are also a few spine tingling moments of suspense and even a little action.
While the answers in these cases are never easy, I loved how everything worked out in the end and closed the book with a big smile on my face.

Overall, this is a wonderful addition to the series.

4 stars
936 reviews2 followers
September 17, 2016
I don't even know where to start. As a big fan of Scottoline and the Risato/Dinunzio series, I was looking so forward to this one. I listened to the audiobook and maybe that affected my opinion, although the narrator was really very good. So I think I may have to lay the blame on the author.

I felt like Mary came across as a bumbling fool about half the time, stumbling over legal terms and legal issues that I, as a non-lawyer, knew and predicted. The story was compelling but pretty unbelievable as Mary jumped so fast into everything and also made factual leaps that no logical person could make based on the limited information she had. (He doesn't have a mustache in the picture on his website so it couldn't have been him in the car...duh, maybe he grew one since the picture was taken).

Rissotto was barely mentioned which I missed. Much of the story focused on Mary's relationship and upcoming marriage although she spent much of her time wondering why Anthony hadn't called her. I had always known Mary was the softer of the two law partners, but she seemed emotionally weak and at times unbelievable as a partner in a law firm. I also felt at times like I was listening to a children's book with all the unnecessary details about everything...the grocer next to the karate place next to the dry cleaners next to the law office and on and on. She repeated things over and over until I was tired of hearing it. I enjoyed some of the information about children with learning disabilities and the problems they have at school but even that became repetitive and tiresome. I just don't remember Scottoline's previous books being like this...
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,685 reviews458 followers
March 3, 2020
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was very good! This is the fourth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio but it reads as a stand-alone novel. This is one of those series where you can just jump in at any point. I have read a couple of the previous books in this series and consider myself a fan of Scottoline so I had a pretty good feeling that I would enjoy this one. I was pulled into this story from the start and was eager to see how things would work out. I am so glad that I decided to listen to this book.

The story opens with Mary taking on a new case. At the center of this case is a young boy named Patrick. Patrick is ten years old and lives with his grandfather, who means the world to him. Patrick has dyslexia and is not getting the services that he needs in order to be able to learn to read. He has also been accused of violence against a teacher's aide. Unfortunately, this is the beginning of the problems that Patrick will have to face.

Like Mary, I fell for Patrick pretty quickly. This little guy has not had things easy but he was still such a good attitude. He was frustrated with school but who could blame him. It was really hard not to like Patrick and his grandfather. Mary fought for them very hard and I loved her dedication to the case. I am not sure that most lawyers would go quite as far as Mary did but it did make the story interesting. This was a pretty complex case that seemed to get more involved as the story progressed. There were some pretty exciting moments and a few twists that I did not see coming.

Rebecca Lowman did a fantastic job with the narration of this book. I think that this is the first time that I have had a chance to listen to this narrator's work and I really liked her work. She has a very pleasant voice that I found easy to listen to for hours at a time. I liked the voices that she used for the various characters and thought that she did a good job adding emotion to the story. I would not hesitate to listen to more of her work in the future.

I would recommend this book to others. I really enjoyed this story and thought that it was emotional at times. I felt bad for Patrick and Mary and wanted to see good things happen for them both. I look forward to reading more of Lisa Scottoline's work!

I received a digital review copy of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
This was very good. The book captured my interest right away and held on throughout the book. I was surprised by some of the twists that popped up along the way. I found it pretty easy to root for Mary, Patrick, and the other key players because they really were just good people. I listened to the audiobook and thought that the narrator did a fantastic job with the story.
Profile Image for Lisa.
610 reviews232 followers
January 11, 2018
Rosato and DiNunzio #4
Lisa Scottoline

MY RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️▫️
PUBLISHER St. Martin’s Press
PUBLISHED August 16, 2016

An immensely satisfying emotional legal thriller, full of twist and turns that will keep the pages flying.

Patrick O’Brien is a small, shy 10-years-old, who can read only on a first-grade level. He had dyslexia and tries to hide it from everyone, but his resulting anxiety gets the best of him and he is getting bullied at school. Patrick is accused of attacking a school aide, who promptly quits his job and sues the boy’s family and the school district. Patrick’s grandfather, Edward, is in his seventies and is Patrick’s only remaining family. Edward hires South Philadelphia attorney Mary DiNunzio to help defend Patrick. But soon Patrick is in a heck of a lot more trouble than anyone bargained for. Regardless, Mary is charmed by the young boy, believes he is innocent and has become Patrick’s strongest advocate. But she is getting married in two weeks, and is risking everything she holds dear to protect Patrick from a dismal future.

Once again LISA SCOTTOLINE has knocked it out of the park with this emotional legal thriller. Her writing, research and attention to detail is superb. Mary DiNunzio’s character is a scrappy and tireless fighter for justice. And you just have to love her family and the three Tony’s, who are always there for her, no matter what! Such love! The action is fast-paced and doesn’t stop until the last page is turned. I don’t think Mary or I got a bit of sleep as she struggled to make a difference in Patrick’s life, and his future. DAMAGED is riveting and full of twists and turns and any one who loves Lisa Scottoline or emotional legal thrillers with strong female characters will love Damaged. It’s her fourth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio series.

“Mary wondered when law got so complicated that even lawyers needed lawyers.”
Lisa Scottoline
Profile Image for Lisa Nocita.
1,003 reviews2 followers
September 24, 2016
Honestly, this book lacked tension and frisson and had the thinnest of plots with no twists. It seemed apparent that the profuse description was merely to reach a page count and in no way served to advance the plot or round out characters. Rather disappointed. Mary does not seem to be a very competent attorney, lacking common sense and acting rashly and she's only a mildly competent fiancée. That relationship seems doomed. And is the timeline of events even remotely logical or believable? I am an educator and the IEP issues didn't quite ring true, but even if they were, there is clear legal recourse. She presented an uncaring, impatient, inattentive, and negligent staff. I have no doubt that budget cuts have had a deep and negative impact on schools in all parts of the U.S., but I find it infuriating and unlikely that young Patrick would have not one champion in school. And while inarguably full of issues and troubles, Scottoline makes the foster care employees and families out to be monstrous, unfeeling automatons. Actually, the more I ponder this book the more issues I am discovering that seriously impeded my enjoyment of this book. I have not read any of the other books in this series so perhaps I would feel more amicably inclined to Ms. DiNunzio and friends if I had. I would not consider this a mystery nor a thriller. Clearly, I am in the minority as most reviewers are giving this high praise. My standards must be much higher!
Profile Image for Skip.
3,249 reviews393 followers
July 11, 2017
Back to the Mary DiNunzio family after an exciting Bennie Rosato novel. Mary is getting ready for her wedding to Anthony when she is contacted by an elderly gentleman about his grandson, who is struggling in school with dyslexia and is then sued by a teacher's aide who quit supposedly after being attacked with a pair of scissors. One of Philly's sleaziest lawyers, Nick Machiavelli is Mary's adversary. Just as Mary is developing a relationship, the grandfather dies in his sleep and Mary decides to become the boy's guardian. At the custody hearing, the police reveal that the grandfather may have been murdered and the boy is a prime suspect. Mary starts to investigate, and gets too close to the truth. As always, too much DiNunzio family drama, but the ending was a surprise, at least to me. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Shirley.
49 reviews
August 29, 2016
First of all, I want to give a warm thanks to Goodreads and St. Martin's Press for the book giveaway! I was thrilled to learn that I had won a copy of this book!

This book centres around Mary DiNunzio, a partner in her own law firm, who is asked to represent a ten-year-old dyslexic boy named Patrick, who has been accused of assaulting his teacher's aide with a pair of scissors. Everything is not as it seems and Mary quickly develops an affection for Patrick who is sorely misunderstood by his school, his teachers and the other children. Patrick lives with his grandfather, Edward and it is when Edward seeks help in the lawsuit launched by the teacher's aide that Mary becomes the champion for this little family. When something tragic* happens (*don't want to ruin the story for someone else) Mary ends up unknowingly putting herself in danger. I won't tell you how it ends up but it isn't really a surprise.

I'll start by saying that this is the first Lisa Scottoline book that I have read. If you are looking for a legal thriller, this is not it. If you are looking for a twisty-turny mystery, this is not it. This is a nice story. At times, I found myself "arguing" with the book because I found Mary very naive. For someone who supposedly lives in the modern world and is trained as a lawyer, she had almost a childlike view of how things would turn out. For example, Mary gives an accounting of a series of events to a police detective and upon finishing her account, is surprised that the detective doesn't just take her word for it and do what she has asked. Even I, with no legal background, was incredulous that she would actually think that the police would just say "Ok, well we'll just close our investigation on your word and just not bother investigating any further." It just doesn't work like that and as a lawyer, she should have known that better than anyone.

Mary has a good heart but is a little hard to believe in spots. I am willing to admit that this might be my cynicism showing... I enjoyed the story but I have to say that it will not be one of those that stay with me as a great story...
Profile Image for Judy.
1,597 reviews26 followers
December 18, 2017
This installment of Rosato & DiNunzio features Mary DiNunzio. She is contacted by the grandfather of Patrick O’Brien, a grade-schooler who is being bullied by fellow students and a teacher’s aide. Patrick, Mary learns is dyslexic; so she begins the procedure to enroll him in a special school. Soon Mary is deeply emotionally involved with Patrick as further problems are evidenced. The events could even jeopardize Mary’s marriage plans and her own happiness. The characters come to mean a lot to me, as a reader. I don't know how Scottoline does it but she keep coming up with captivating cases for Rosato & DiNunzio.
Profile Image for KAS.
317 reviews3,130 followers
July 8, 2016
Wow, what a fascinating read! I have read other Lisa Scottoline novels, which were murder mysteries, and always enjoyed them. This is a criminal legal thriller centered around an attorney, Mary DiNunzio, representing a ten year old boy, Patrick, accused of attacking his classroom teacher's aide with a pair of scissors. On the surface, that doesn't sound like a thrilling plot line, but believe me when I tell you, the plot thickens with twists and turns which has you riveted and burning through the pages to find out what is going to happen next. The fascinating characters and situations they find themselves in is masterful story telling!

*I received a copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review *
Profile Image for Judy Collins.
2,508 reviews353 followers
August 23, 2016
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Lisa Scottoline returns following Most Wanted (2016) with DAMAGED (Rosato & DiNunzio, #4) featuring attorney, Mary DiNuzio—(law partner) about to be married to Anthony, and becomes involved in a complex legal, and highly charged emotional case which threatens her personal and business life.

Mary DiNunzio, a partner in the Philadelphia law firm Rosato & DiNunzio, takes on a heartbreaking case involving a dyslexic fifth grader, Patrick O’Brien, who’s bullied at school and is getting no support for his language disability.

Patrick, is being raised by his paternal grandfather, and allegedly attacked a school aid with scissors, and the aid is suing both Patrick and the school board for damages.

Edward O’Brien, grandfather--in his seventies and comes the law firm for help. His grandson is special needs (dyslexic) and needs representation. On top of his learning disabilities, he is being bullied at school, plus turns out suffering from much more.

Robertson is represented by Nick Machiavelli, known for his dirty practices. Mary is caught in the middle and falls in love with Patrick and quickly comes to his defense. She even wants to adopt him, after winning her heart. Her parent’s also rally around her as well as the other gals at the law firm.

However, things get complicated when she finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation, after Edward’s death. Mary has many difficult choices to make involving her own relationship with college professor Anthony-, torn between her love and dedication to Patrick, when scrutinized by everyone, including Machiavelli.

I enjoyed learning the author’s inspiration behind the novel –a best friend, a fellow lawyer, who works on special-education cases. What is the best thing to do for a special needs child, when lines are blurred between ethical, moral, professional and personal lives.

Gripping! An intense fight for justice, a mixture of legal suspense thriller and riveting domestic suspense. From education, sexual abuse, learning disabilities, bullying, and parenting. A nice balance with loads of Scottoline’s signature winning style. An avid legal and Scottoline fan, as always love catching up with Judy, Bennie, and family.

I also purchased the audiobook book while traveling, narrated by Rebecca Lowman for an engaging performance. 

On a personal note: Having raised three stepsons with dyslexia, am very familiar with the learning disability and the many ongoing challenges, when compared to my own two sons. Their educational needs, from tutoring, untimed SATs, to daily social interactions required special monitoring and attention.

From behavior, health, development, personality, writing, reading, motor skills, and even time management inconsistencies, are some of the many traits and behaviors. The characteristics can vary from day to minute, and each child is different in many ways. Many times they are highly creative with high IQs; however, their learning disabilities may become quite challenging for children, teens, college students and even into adulthood--without the proper guidance, research, compassion, education and support.

Profile Image for Laurel-Rain.
Author 6 books228 followers
July 30, 2016
Set in Philadelphia, the newest Rosato & DiNunzio novel starts right off with Mary DiNunzio, our MC, hitting the ground running. She is intense, dedicated, and good at multi-tasking, which is necessary right now with her wedding looming on the horizon. She and Anthony Rotunno, a college professor, grew up in the same neighborhood. They have much in common.

But just when she needs to focus on the wedding, her newest case grabs her and pulls her all in. Edward O’Brien, the grandfather/guardian of ten-year-old Patrick, has brought in a case that will tug at her heartstrings and keep her absorbed indefinitely. Patrick is dyslexic, but the school district has done nothing to provide services to assist him. One IEP was completed several years before, when he was six, and since then, no services have been set up. He is bullied by the other students, and recently, he was struck by a teacher’s aide. To top things off, the aide quit his job and hired the most obnoxious attorney in Philadelphia, Nick Machiavelli, to sue Edward, claiming that little Patrick pulled a pair of scissors on him.

Damaged is an intense page turner that kept me going until I had to finally stop to sleep. I loved how Mary dug in and found creative solutions to each obstacle that arose, and when tragedy strikes, she is right there with another solution. I loved learning about the ins and outs of special education law, some of which I knew already, but it felt great to polish up this knowledge. Also the children’s services issues are familiar to me, except for the differences between states that are inevitable.

Will Mary win the war against the horrible Machiavelli? Is Patrick more damaged than anyone realized? How will Mary’s absorption in this case affect her upcoming nuptials?

My favorite thing about this author’s novels is how quickly I connect with the characters, and how easy it is to root for some and abhor others. Just when it seemed as though all would finally come together, a few more surprising and agonizing twists shook Mary and her associates to the core. But Mary kept going, her determination and love of family guiding her. Five stars.

***My e-ARC came to me from the publisher via NetGalley.

Profile Image for Shelby Niles.
1 review
July 3, 2017
Not only was this the worst book I've ever read, but it may be the worst book ever written. We listened to this book on tape, and suffered for 10 hours listening to the narrator do the following:
1.) describe in excruciating detail every single character's wardrobe and appearance (including minor characters who have only one line in the book)
2.) The author felt the audience needed to know every minor detail about the book's different settings, including but not limited to: pictures hanging on the wall, number of books on a desk, or color of the carpet. These were useless descriptions
3.) The main character is supposed to be a partner at a law firm, and yet was painfully incompetent and asked for clarification on the simplest of law terms. While the author was doing this to educate the reader on the finer points of law, I could simply not care less. This was made even more evident when a Judge asked for clarification on "cause of death" versus "manner of death". How does a judge not know this?
4.) The boyfriend/wedding plot line was completely useless and added nothing to the plot. Why is there a 15 minute scene about the main character getting her hair done? Again...useless.
5.) There are multiple plot holes in the timeline of the events
6.) Her tangents disrupt the plot and at some points she goes into such description that you forget what she was even talking about.
7.) She repeated EVERYTHING
8.) She took a painfully long time to tell the child about the death of his grandfather, and instead chose to discuss soup temperature at length.

To summarize, even though Lisa Scottoline has written some enjoyable books, avoid this book at all costs unless you want a law lesson and fashion inspiration.
Profile Image for Laurie • The Baking Bookworm.
1,376 reviews361 followers
August 4, 2016

If you're like me and went into this book expecting a suspenseful, nail-biter of a read you may get a different kind of book than you were expecting. Instead, the suspense aspect plays second fiddle to Mary's personal life and her deep and sudden desire to foster a ten-year-old boy (whom she's known for a matter of days) a mere two weeks before her wedding.

What I appreciated about this book was the great information (without feeling preachy or teachy) that Scottoline provides about learning disabilities - specifically dyslexia and all its implications. As a mother of a teenage son with ADD I appreciated that she incorporated IEP (Individual Education Plan) into her story line and how a child can be helped within the educational system if given the opportunity. She also highlights the challenges some special needs children face as well as the complexities of the foster care system and some of the legal implications involving youth without guardians.

This is my first time meeting Mary DiNunzio and although she has a heart of gold I found her surprisingly bland and naive. She has this sudden desire to become an interim foster parent for a boy she barely knows which I found hard to believe. They didn't have enough time to forum such a deep and realistic attachment to each other and readers aren't given a clear idea of why Mary wants this child so badly.

For a smart women with a law degree Mary was also naive about some aspects of the legal system (what lawyer has to have a Chinese wall explained to them?). On the other end of the character spectrum we have Bennie Rosato, Mary's legal partner, who was a breath of fresh air. And even though she was barely in the book, I loved her 'tell it like it is' demeanor and wish she had been used more in the plot.

While the focus isn't on suspense as much as I would have liked, Scottoline supplies a few good red herrings to spice things up. Readers will wonder if young Patrick is as innocent as he appears to be or if he's the manipulative, sinister child some people peg him for. Overall, I'd still consider this book a page turner and quite an easy read but it definitely had a different focus than I was expecting from Scottoline.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Rheetha Lawlor.
884 reviews8 followers
September 1, 2016
First of all, I enjoy any premise that shows what it's like for a student with disabilities to be in school. With that said, though, as an educator, I found it to be a little condescending. Basically, Mary DiNunzio (and I love these books) has taken on a case for a grandfather and a 5th grader who has severe dyslexia. There are 2 cases- one that she is adamant that the school is not doing enough for this now illiterate child, and second that the boy was abused by a teacher. And of course, there is a murder mystery in there which was pretty fun.
Ok, so the plot line, fair to midland. But what really got me was the student was in 5th grade but seemed to have the characteritics of more like a kindergartener or a 1st grader in the way he talked. Secondly, it seems like the schools were demonized. I get it- the schools are not reaching all the kids, they are lacking in money, yadda yadda. But hey, society is also changing and the parents and teachers are always working together so it's not always the dark, dungeony schools at fault. I'm just on a little soapbox right now.
I have no idea about foster homes, so I have no room to speak on that. I did find it interesting. Overall, I wasn't overwhelmed by this installment, but it had a couple of good moments. So I'll give it maybe 2 1/2 stars. But I just had ice cream and am feeling generous right now.
Profile Image for Zoe.
1,787 reviews160 followers
July 22, 2016
Intriguing, suspenseful, and entertaining!

This story begins with a seemingly simple case of a special needs child who has fallen through the cracks, and quickly evolves into a highly complex story involving an in-depth look into the educational requirements of those suffering from dyslexia, the rights and legalities surrounding foster care, abuse, corruption, and, ultimately, murder.

The writing is well done. The characters are determined, intelligent, and empathetic. And the plot, as well as the numerous subplots, are multi-layered, compelling, and captivating.

Overall, this was an enjoyable story, and even though it is the fourth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio series, it can definitely be read as a standalone novel.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This review and more can be found on my blog at www.whatsbetterthanbooks.com
Profile Image for Amy.
980 reviews5 followers
November 20, 2016
Damaged by Lisa Scottoline grabbed my attention from the first page and I could barely put it down until I was finished. I deal with kids in foster care quite often, so this story of an attorney trying to do right by an abused little boy was of special interest to me. I'm a fan of Lisa Scottoline, but haven't read any of the books in this series (did not realize there were any) before this one and didn't feel lost or that I was missing anything. The backstory on each character was sufficient for a first-time reader to the series and levels of detail given in regards to the foster care system and dyslexia seemed quite well researched. I loved Mary's family (her parents and the Tony's), they were loving, supportive, and seemed fun to be around. I didn't care much for her fiance, but there was a point toward the end of the book where he redeemed himself (in my eyes) and I found him to be a worthy partner for Mary. Another thing I personally enjoyed about the book is that my daughter goes to school in Philadelphia, so even though I'm on the west coast, I've visited many times and the streets and some landmarks are quite familiar to me, so that was fun. I'd say this is a must read for fans of Lisa Scottoline, those that enjoy mysteries, and/or are looking for an engrossing book that they'll thoroughly enjoy!

** Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for giving me this book in exchange for an honest review **
1,101 reviews22 followers
June 25, 2019
Way too long and complicated to tell a simple story.
Profile Image for Darlene.
370 reviews132 followers
September 15, 2016
I'm a relative newcomer to the writing of Lisa Scottoline. I have only read several of her novels but enjoy her Rosato and DiNunzio series in particular. The latest in this series, 'Damaged' caught my attention because of the subject matter. Bennie Rosato and Mary DiNunzio are partners in a Philadelphia law firm which Bennie started herself. The story begin with Mary frantically preparing for her upcoming wedding. Although she is filled with anxiety about completing all of the preparations, she agrees to meet with a new client… Edward O'Brien. Edward is an older gentleman who is desperate to retain Mary's services because of some trouble that his grandson, Patrick, has gotten into at school. Patrick is 10 years old and is being raised by Edward because his parents are both dead. Patrick is also dyslexic and suffering from extreme anxiety.. so extreme in fact, that he vomits each time he feels his anxiety rising. Mary specializes in special education law and she quickly determines that not only is Patrick's school NOT providing him with an appropriate education, addressing his particular needs… his dyslexia is not being addressed AT ALL, leaving Patrick almost completely illiterate. But Edward and Patrick have even bigger legal problems. Patrick is being accused of threatening a teacher's aid with scissors. The aid, Robertson, has filed a lawsuit against the school district and Edward personally…. conveniently, however, Robertson has left out just a tiny portion of the story… the fact that he physically assaulted Patrick, striking him in the face with his fist…. and as Mary soon discovers, this is just the tip of the iceberg! Much more has been happening to Patrick at school.

Mary decides that her strategy will be to address the problems on two fronts… first, she will deal with the educational services needed by Patrick but which are not being provided by the school district and second; she needs to investigate Robertson and determine what really has been happening between the two at school. Before Mary can make significant progress on the O'Brien's problems, tragedy strikes.. Edward O'Brien, who is diabetic, has died unexpectedly in his sleep….. or DID he? Suddenly, the case is spinning out of Mary's control…. But the bottom line is that Patrick is now an orphan and will most likely be placed into the foster care system.

Mary has to move into crisis mode. Although she has only known Patrick O'Brien for several days, she feels a strong and unexpected connection to him and she is horrified by the thought of him in the foster care system… where more than likely, his special needs will not be addressed in any meaningful way. Mary decides, along with her law firm associates, that she will petition the court for guardianship of Patrick. There is just a small problem with her plan…. she hasn't even mentioned it to her fiancé, Anthony, who is currently in California. Will Anthony still want to marry her when he discovers that he will now be marrying a ready-made family?

It soon becomes apparent that the case Mary has agreed to take on was proving to be so much more complex than she anticipated. She was notified by police that Edward O'Brien had NOT, in fact, die of natural causes. Edward had been murdered with an overdose of insulin and they believed Patrick was the murderer. With Patrick's future hanging in the balance, Mary decides to undertake an investigation which is more dangerous and twisted than she can imagine.

This gripping story by Lisa Scottoline confronts some tough issues such as dyslexia, bullying, child sexual abuse and even a cleverly executed Ponzi scheme. Ms. Scottoline takes the reader on a ride with plenty of twists and turns. This story was suspenseful and heart wrenching and although Mary's behavior toward Patrick O'Brien seemed unprofessional.. she couldn't keep her professional distance from the boy's troubles, I COULD very well understand her feelings. I know I would have felt the same way. This book initially caught my attention because I have personal knowledge and experience with federal and Pennsylvania law regarding special education. It's obvious that Ms. Scottoline did a great deal of research into this area as she was right on target in her descriptions of how Pennsylvania law works…. or how it DOESN'T work in some cases. Also, I LOVE the city of Philadelphia and I truly appreciated the 'color' Ms. Scottoline provided of Center City, in particular and also, Mary's italian neighborhood in South Philly!

I listened to the audiobook version of this story and it was wonderfully narrated by Rebecca Lowman. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Dawn.
295 reviews
July 9, 2016
*I received the book for free through Goodreads First Read*

I'm not sure what to say about this one, I liked it but was expecting more in the investigation department. I've read Lisa's early work and loved it, so I was really excited to get this one. I liked the overall theme of the story with regards to a child (Patrick) being "lost" in the system (i.e. educational and foster care). I felt this was well written and easily drew you into the story, but I felt the ending was rushed and there could have been more in the investigation department (after all Mary is a Lawyer in a law firm) rather than the personal aspect of trying to gain custody for reason's Mary couldn't even really explain. Rosato gets involved near the end, but nothing is said about her role in the case. Her inclusion almost seemed like an after thought. I will admit it's been awhile since I've read a Rosato & DiNunzio novel, but this one seemed a little off... maybe that's just me.
292 reviews
October 13, 2016
Just like the author's last book I read, "Most Wanted," this is much more of a beach read for housewives than it is a thriller like "Every Fifteen Minutes." The conclusion is just too simple and wrapped up in a bow, even drawing in an almost completely new character and a whole new scenario in the last 50 pages to explain everything. I was extremely disappointed in the main character. Just like in "Most Wanted," she starts off seeming like a "power woman" who is intelligent and independent with a power job and authority, but the decisions she makes are ridiculous and seem to just appeal to the idea that women make weak decisions based on their emotions. As a lover of mysteries and thrillers, this is not the book for me. I did a lot of eye rolling. That said, despite the trouble I had with the plot, Scottoline has a way with words and celebrates American English on many different levels. She is easy to read.
Profile Image for Jeanne.
799 reviews4 followers
December 8, 2018
A story based on the mistreatment of a child is a bit hard to take; however, the protagonist's actions to help the young boy even though she hardly knows him helps to offset this a bit. The ending was absolutely amazing, raising the rating a bit. Machiavelli needs to be disbarred!! 5 out of 10.
Profile Image for TamElaine.
260 reviews
August 21, 2016
This is my first introduction to Lisa Scottoline's writing, and I'm pretty sure I will be reading more ! This is also the 4th book of the series and is absolutely able to read on it's own which I can attest to, not having read the first three.

It was obvious to me that Lisa Scottoline did her research, not just into the law, but into the care and needs of a child with significant anxiety and different learning needs. I'm so impressed with this aspect of the book.

The writing was smooth and engaging, the characters developed well, and likeable...DiNunzio, the main character of this novel, while a strong presence, grew through her experience a great deal and I really related to her through that.

At 79% of the way through the book according to my e-reader, a significant amount needed to be accomplished and I anticipated a gripping, fast paced read.....and it was - but the last 20% still fell short for me - it felt entirely too rushed. One chapter even ended so abruptly I thought I missed pages - It was building up to what I thought was going to roll out into a huge drama in court, but instead said something along the lines that Mary knew what she had to do and knew the outcome...and she did. I think that took away from what could have been a very emotional piece. That's just an example - there were several components of the novel that were suddenly rushed in the last 20% of the book. Up to that point I was ready to give this a whopping 4 stars

To summarize - fabulous writing, well researched content, great relatable characters, gripping and fast paced all the way through, but very rushed ending.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Lisa Scottoline and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review this great story !
Profile Image for Jean.
1,701 reviews736 followers
August 29, 2016
This is book fifteen in the Rosate Associates series or book four since Mary DiNuzio was made a partner. This is an issues novel about the problems of children with dyslexia and also about foster care. The story takes place in Philadelphia as do all the books in the series. Mary is going to be getting married in two weeks and in the meantime she takes on a new case of a ten-year-old boy, Patrick O’Brien, who cannot read. The public school has provided no special education for him and he is the target of bullies. Patrick was also the victim of physical and sexual abuse by a teacher’s aide. Patrick’s grandfather dies and Mary is attempting to obtain temporary guardianship but someone is out to kill her. Anthony is not happy with her attempting to bring the boy into their lives. So is the wedding going to happen?

The book is well written and the suspense builds steadily throughout the book. There is the usual Scottoline humor with Mary’s big Italian family. This is the third book, I think, about Mary. The series started with Benny Rosate and I would love to have Scottoline write more about Rosate; she seems to have been lost in the last 6 books or so. I have read all the books in the series and have enjoyed them.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. Rebecca Lowman did a good job narrating the book. Lowman is a stage, film and television actress who narrates audiobooks. It seems almost every book has a different narrator. When books are in a series I prefer to have one narrator for all the books. All the narrators in the series have been excellent but publishers please try for just one.
Profile Image for Kris - My Novelesque Life.
4,639 reviews191 followers
July 1, 2019
Rating: 4 STARS
2016; St. Martin's Press
(Review Not on Blog)

First of all...what about ANNE??? I get that Mary and Bennie are the partners in the firm, but what about the others getting a chance. We get a bit of a glimpse of Anne but have not really seen her since Courting Trouble.

Now back to the regular review...this book stars Mary and this time she is up against a lawyer who has no problem winning at all costs. As usual, Mary lets things get personal with her young client, by first becoming his guardian ad litem and then investing all her time and energy in the case. Will this case put her new engagement in jeopardy.

Corrupted, the previous book, was great and this one too had me reading as fast as I could. But again, it is the characters that keep me engaged. As story on it's own I am not sure if I would rate it less.

***I received an eARC from NETGALLEY***
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