Who can you trust when everyone you know is a lawyer Mary DiNunzio has been slaving away for the past eight years trying to make partner in her cutthroat Philadelphia law firm. She's too busy to worry about the crank phone calls that she's been getting -- until they fall into a sinister pattern. The phone rings as soon as she gets to work, then as soon as she gets home. Mary can't shake the sensation that someone is watching her. Following her every move. The shadowboxing turns deadly when her worst fears are realized, and she has to fight for something a lot more important than her partnership. Her life.
This tale of corporate intrigue centers on Mary DiNunzio, a lawyer on the partner track at one of Philadelphia's top law firms, and her secret admirer/stalker. Mary, stressed by nature of her occupation, first shrugs off silent phone calls to her home and office that are eerily in sync with her comings and goings. Soon, however, when she starts getting personal notes, too, she starts to suspect her co-workers. When Brent Polk, her good friend and secretary, is killed by a car that's been following Mary around, she goads police detective Lombardo to check for similarities between his death and that of her husband a year earlier. Soon follows a chain of strange discoveries: after sleeping with friend and associate Ned Waters, she finds anti-depressants in his medicine chest; Ned's wife-beating father manages a rival law firm; a partner has been tampering with her files. An increasingly paranoid Mary cuts off relations with Ned, whom she suspects of being her stalker. But she doesn't act on her suspicions until it's nearly too late and she must fight for her life. Lawyer Scottoline's first novel is an engaging, quick read, sprinkled with corny humor and melodrama in just the right proportions. (Nov.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 02, 2000
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Excerpt from Everywhere That Mary Went by Lisa Scottoline
"All rise! All persons having business before this Honorable Judge of the United States District Court are admonished to draw near and be heard!" trumpets the courtroom deputy.
Instantly, sports pages vanish into briefcases and legal briefs are tossed atop the stock quotes. Three rows of pricey lawyers leap to their wingtips and come to attention before a vacant mahogany dais. Never before has a piece of furniture commanded such respect.
"The District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is now in session! God save the United States and this honorable court!" The deputy casts an eye in the direction of the dais and pauses significantly. "The Honorable William A. Bitterman, presiding."
Judge Bitterman sweeps onto the dais on cue and stands behind his desk like a stout regent surveying his serfdom. His eyes, mere slits sunk deep into too-solid flesh, scan the courtroom from on high. I can read his mind: Everything is in order. The counsel tables gleam. The marble floor sparkles. The air-conditioning freezes the blood of lesser life forms. And speaking of same, the lawyers wait and wait.
"You won't mind the delay, counsel," the judge says indifferently, sinking into a soft leather throne. "After all, waiting is billable too."
An uncertain chuckle circulates among the crowd in the back of the courtroom. None of us defense lawyers likes to admit it, but we will bill the time -- we have to bill it to someone and it might as well be you. The plaintiffs' bar doesn't sweat it. A contingency fee has more cushion than an air bag.
"Well, well, well," the judge mutters, without explanation, as he skims the motion papers on his desk. Judge Bitterman might have been handsome in a former life, but his enormous weight has pushed his features to the upper third of his face, leaving beneath a chin as bulbous as a bullfrog's. Rumor has it he gained the weight when his wife left him years ago, but there's no excuse for his temperament, which is congenitally lousy. Because of it my best friend, Judy Carrier, calls him Bitter Man.
"Good morning, Your Honor," I say, taking my seat at counsel table. I try to sound perky and bright, and not at all how I feel, which is nervous and fearful. I'm wearing my navy-blue Man Suit; it's perfect for that special occasion when a girl wants to look like a man, like in court or at the auto mechanic's. The reason I'm nervous is that this oral argument is only my second -- the partners in my law firm hog the arguments for themselves. They expect associates to learn how to argue by watching them do it. Which is like saying you can learn to ride a bike by watching other people ride them.
"Good morning, Your Honor," says opposing counsel, Bernie Starankovic. Starankovic blinks a lot and wears a bad suit. I feel a twinge of guilt for what I'm about to say about him in open court -- that he's too incompetent to represent our client's employees in a class action for age discrimination. If I win this motion, the class action will evaporate, our client's liability will plunge from megabucks to chump change, and its aged ex-employees will end up living on Social Security and 9-Lives. Defense lawyers consider this a victory.