Dead Ringer (Rosato & Associates Series #8)

Dead Ringer (Rosato & Associates Series #8)

by Lisa Scottoline


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Lawyer Bennie Rosato is fighting the battle of her life — against her own twin. The action starts innocently enough, with a stolen wallet, but in no time events escalate, and Alice Connelly wreaks havoc that can be created only by a dead ringer.

Connelly tries to destroy Bennie's law firm, Rosato & Associates, and then strikes at her very heart — which just happens to be otherwise engaged by a handsome, hunky stranger with the perfect amount of chest hair.

But when a brutal murder occurs, Bennie realizes that the stakes have turned deadly. And the face of evil looks like her own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781405032766
Publisher: Gardners Books
Publication date: 06/06/2003
Series: Rosato & Associates Series , #8

About the Author

Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling author and serves as president of the Mystery Writers of America. She has won the Edgar Award, as well as many other writing awards. She also writes a Sunday humor column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, titled "Chick Wit," with her daughter, Francesca Serritella. There are thirty million copies of Lisa's books in print, and she has been published in thirty-two countries. She lives in Pennsylvania with an array of disobedient but adorable pets.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date of Birth:

July 1, 1955

Place of Birth:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981

Read an Excerpt

Dead Ringer

Chapter One

Bennie Rosato had waited for more than a hundred jury verdicts in her career, but the waiting never got easier. The courtroom was empty, the air still. Bennie could hear the clock ticking on the paneled wall, but it could have been her sense of drama. She was sitting next to her client, Ray Finalil, who was gnawing his cuticles. If they lost this trial, Ray's company would have to pay three million dollars in damages. Three million bucks buys a lot of cuticles.

Bennie set aside her own case of nerves to cheer him up. "Yo, Ray. How do you stop a lawyer from drowning?"


"Take your foot off his head."

Ray didn't smile. His gaze remained fixed on the vacant jury box, with its black leather chairs swiveled in different directions. The jury had been charged on the law this morning and they'd been out deliberating all day. That meant Ray and Bennie were entering their sixth hour of small talk. To Bennie, that was as good as married.

"Okay, no more jokes," she said. "Tell me about your son's baseball game. I'll pretend I don't know about the home run or the catch at third base."

"Second base."


Ray's chin dropped to his hand. His brown eyes were bloodshot from three weeks of sleepless nights and his cheeks hollow from the ten pounds he'd shed during the trial, even though he was completely innocent. Being a defendant was no-win; if you lost, you paid the plaintiff, and if you won, you paid your lawyer. This was known as the American Rule. Only Americans tolerate law without justice.

"Look, Ray, we don't have to stay here. I have my cell phone, and the deputy clerk has my number. How about we take a field trip? We can go see the Liberty Bell. It's only a block away."


"This land is your land, Ray. This land is my land."


"Come on, it'll do you good to go out and walk around." Bennie rose, stretched, and took a personal inventory. She thought she was good-looking for a lawyer, even though she stood six feet tall and her proportions were positively Amazonian. Her khaki suit was still pressed and her white Gap shirt fairly clean. Her long, disobedient blond hair had been piled into a twist with a tortoiseshell barrette, but no makeup maximized the blue of her eyes or minimized the crow's-feet at their corners. An old boyfriend had told her that her mouth was generous, but she suspected it was a sneaky way of saying she had a big mouth. At the moment, it was shaped into a sympathetic frown. "You don't wanna take a walk?"

"When do you think they'll come back?" Ray didn't have to explain who "they" were. The jury.

"End of today." Bennie sat back down. At least the stretch had shaken off some of her stress. She couldn't remember the last time she'd exercised. This trial had consumed every available minute for the past two months, but her law firm needed the dough. The slump in the economy had hit lawyers, too, and people had stopped suing each other. Could world peace be far behind?

"I can't take another day of this. You sure they'll come back today?"

"Positive. This is a simple fraud case, in federal court only through the miracle of diversity jurisdiction. And Thursday is a good day for juries to go out. They get it over with if they come back today, then they go home and make it a three-day weekend. They won't go to work on a Friday after jury duty."

"How do you know?"

"Trial wisdom. The elders pass it down in a secret ceremony. We call it the bar exam to fool gringos like you."

"But what are they doing in there for so long?" Ray rubbed his forehead with leftover fingernails. He looked older than his fifty-one years, and oddly, he'd become more nervous as the trial wore on, not less. Ray wasn't a lover or a fighter. He was an accountant.

"A day is nothing. We just had a fifteen-day trial with one hundred twenty-six exhibits and twenty-eight witnesses. You want them back sooner?" Bennie pointed to the empty jury box. "Keep watching those chairs. It works every time."

Suddenly, the paneled door next to the dais opened and the deputy clerk entered. He was tall and fit, and his polyester blazer made an officially swishy sound when he walked. When Bennie realized he was heading for her, she rose. "They back?" she asked, her heart beginning to thump, but the deputy clerk shook his head.

"They got a question. They sent a note. Court's in session in five minutes. Plaintiff still in the attorney's conference room?"

"Yes," Bennie answered, and as soon as the deputy clerk took off down the aisle, Ray jumped up and clutched her sleeve.

"What does he mean, a question? The jury has a question? What question?"

"Relax. Sit down." Bennie unpeeled Ray's fingers and eased him down into his chair. "The judge is coming out to read us the question. Then we -- "

"A question? How typical is that? I don't understand. What does he mean, a question?"

"It happens from time to time. The jury sends the judge a question about the evidence or the law. It's nothing to be -- "

"I mean, what do they have to know?" Ray raked his free hand through his thinning hair. At the beginning of this trial he had looked like a Chia Pet. Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration. "Who said they could ask questions? Why do they get to ask questions?"

"Because this is America. Now stay cool. Curtain's up." Bennie gestured behind him, where the courtroom had come abruptly to life ...

Dead Ringer. Copyright © by Lisa Scottoline. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Reading Group Guide


Many book clubs have written Lisa asking for questions to guide their discussion, so Lisa came up with a bunch for each book. Her goal in writing books is to entertain, so it goes without saying that Lisa wants you to have lots of fun discussing her books, and has reflected that in her questions. She provides the talking points, and you and your group shape the conversation. So go ahead, get together, chat it up with your friends, discuss books, kids, and relationships, but by all means, have fun.


  1. Does everyone understand the title Dead Ringer? After the book was done, I found out my kid and her friends didn't know what the phrase means. Am I getting old?

  2. Do you think Alice deserves a second chance, or is someone who would hurt a dog unredeemable?

  3. Do you feel sorry for Alice because she was the twin who was given up? Does this make her actions any more forgivable?

  4. Have you ever had a total stranger come to your rescue, just because they were a good person, and not because they wanted something from you? Were they as good looking as David?

  5. Competitiveness and jealousy led two siblings in this book to do some terrible, even horrific things. Some envy between siblings is normal, but where does it cross the line? Is it the parents' fault? Is there something parents can do to make this less of a problem?

  6. Do you think that Bennie should have put her house up in order to save her business? Do you believe that in order to be successful, you need to take risks?

  7. Could you forgive Alice? Do you think she can change? Do we let family get away withthings that we would never put up with from others, or are we harder on them?

About the author

Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling author and former trial lawyer. She has won the Edgar Award, the highest prize in suspense fiction, and the Distinguished Author Award from the Weinberg Library of the University of Scranton. She has served as the Leo Goodwin Senior Professor of Law and Popular Culture at Nova Southeastern Law School, and her novels are used by bar associations for the ethical issues they present. Her books are published in more than twenty languages. She lives with her family in the Philadelphia area.


An Interview with Lisa Scottoline
With the publication of the tenth book in her powerful series about Bennie Rosato's all-female Philadelphia law firm, Lisa Scottoline talked to Ransom Notes about the legal profession, the mystery genre, and the fascinating situations she creates by combining the two.

Lisa Scottoline: When I first decided to write, John Grisham's books had just put the legal thriller on everyone's radar, and I wanted to play, too. To me, books plus law (plus a really great tomato sauce and golden retrievers) equals putting all the things I love in one place.

As I see it, the biggest difference between legal fact and fiction is that fiction is rarely as outrageous as real life. The truth is, you can't make up stuff that's crazier than what life hands you. When I was in my 30s, I found out that I had a half sister. I turned that experience into a book, Mistaken Identity, where Bennie meets a woman who claims to be her twin.

It was a fun assignment for me, as an author, to examine Bennie's identity from a polar-opposite point of view. Bennie created a family for herself with her law firm -- one that she feels deeply, personally responsible for. Alice started as the negative to Bennie's positive; not evil, just empty. Alice is as smart, savvy, and as gutsy as Bennie, but she puts her energy into crime. What makes her so dangerous is the unpredictability that comes from not taking responsibility for her actions.

Alice returns in Dead Ringer because there is Chapter Two in books and life. After I got over the shock of finding out about a stranger who happened to be kin, I had to figure out where -- and if -- that person fit into my life. I wanted Bennie to share that struggle. All my books center on family, justice, identity, and ultimately love. I think that no matter what your relationship is with your family, good or bad, there is still a core need to be accepted and acknowledged. If that need is filled, you're lucky, like me. If it's unfulfilled, you've got to deal with it. Dead Ringer, particularly, explores how deeply family emotions are felt as they motivate people to commit unspeakable acts -- or to come together.

Ransom Notes: Speaking of love, what did you like best about creating David Holland? Was it his unselfconscious heroism, or the fact he's a pushover for golden retrievers?

LS: Even fictional characters need crushes! Besides the fact that David is gorgeous, what I love most about him is the fact that he is a total stranger motivated only by a desire to help. Of course, it reveals something important about Bennie when she realizes that she suspects David because she is so unused to accepting help.

RN: Can you tell us anything about your next book?

Lisa Scottoline: All I can say now is that it's titled Lying in Wait, and it's based on a case one of Bennie's associates introduces in Dead Ringer. Meanwhile, I love love LOVE to hear from readers! Tell me what you think! The best way to reach me is through my web site,

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Dead Ringer 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
XXXOOOBookwormOOOXXX More than 1 year ago
Bennie is losing clients right and left to bankruptcy, and the clients she has aren't paying her. She's behind on the rent, and has laid off one staff person. No new clients seem to be on the horizon when she gets an unexpected call from a courtly Frenchman whose company has been hurt by an illegal boycott. But . . . the case will be a class action suit, and Bennie has never done one before. Soon, she's mixing it up with the multi-million dollar class action lawyers who expect her to pony up $30,000 to play in the contingent fee case. If that isn't enough, someone has started impersonating her and is using her credit cards to send unwanted goods to the office. Whenever Bennie thinks she has gotten her head above water, she has another setback. Before long, she's engaged forced to defend her very honor by solving two mysterious crimes. In the process, the danger grows to unacceptable levels . . . and a mysterious, handsome stranger becomes her Good Samaritan. With her hear aflutter, she finds it hard to concentrate on her legal practice.  The book opens with a very compelling series of episodes that display the problems that any small legal practice faces during hard economic conditions. Scottoline has written another winner. I like all the Rosato & Associates books. Ms Scottoline always gets my interest. Although if you read the previous books you know who the dead ringer is. But that is only part of the plot. The rest of the story kept me guessing. Benny Rosato is a great character and I would recommend this book as well as the others in the series.
Squeex on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I take my time between Lisa Scottoline's books so I can savor them one at a time and anticipate the next one in a few months. I enjoyed my time with DEAD RINGER, it was like being with old friends, Bennie, Mary, Anne, Judy (she of the pink hair). Each has a great, funny, smart, individual personality that works well in their all female law office. Bennie is having a heckuva week. Her lease payments are way past due, new business is slow, her twin sister has decided this is a good time wreak havoc....then the man from France comes in to ask for her legal assistance in a class action suit, something Bennie's not well versed in. Her team of eager associates urge her to take it on, they'll help. Everything starts to go downhill from there. The mystery is well told and I was completely taken by surprise (but not unpleasantly so) when the killer was found. There are a few stories going on at the same time, but each one is separate enough so that I didn't lose track. The above description is correct, Barbara Rosenblat is the perfect voice for Lisa Scottoline's books. I love the Bennie Rosato series, especially the ones featuring Mary DiNunzio and Barbara Rosenblat adds that extra touch of nifty to the experience.Five fab legal beans......
caro488 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Scottoline, Lisa, Dead Ringer - Philly lawyer Bennie Rosato takes on a class action suit even tho it's not her specialty after she wins a fantastic case, but her client tells her he is bankrupt. She has no money coming in, and young women who look up to her. And someone has stolen her wallet and is appearing as her all over town, including stealing a diamond ring.
Voracious_Reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dead Ringer is a beach book about a female lawyer whose character and credibility is under attack and whose practice is in decline through no fault of her own. It didn't really differentiate itself from the myriad of mystery come attorney books out there. Look Again by Scottoline is much more interesting and is a cut above the thousands of contemporary beach books out there; though, it focuses on a journalist, not an attorney.
techeditor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read Scottoline's 2009 book, LONG LOST, and was impressed, so I also read DEAD RINGER (2003). Again, I found that Scottoline, unlike most other authors of thrillers, truly does write a thrilling thriller. I had a hard time putting it down. This book is a legal thriller and part of a series about a lawyer and her associates. Together they nose their way into police business. Their sleuthing is great reading. But the last couple chapters were disappointments. Scottoliine ties up all the loose threads too neatly, so neatly it reminded me of "god in the machine." Still, all but those few pages were so good, I recommend the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This ladies law firm will keep you guessing, what is next. Never a dull moment
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quaintinns More than 1 year ago
I liked this book more so than Lisa’s other books. The humor and the one line remarks were funny throughout the book. When lawyer Bennie’s twin sister returns to Phili, she is in trouble as she is out to steal her life (the twin was brutal) and does so. Then one day a stranger shows u p and helps save her life.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
Bennie Rosato couldn't be better. Although her law office is struggling a bit financially, she just landed a new client that could end her money worries for years. She is making a respected name for herself in the Philadelphia courts. She has great friends and a great life. Then everything seems to go wrong at once. Her new account, which had the potential to bring in millions in fees, seems in trouble. Judges and lawyers who respected her are starting to avoid her. Her house is broken into and her dog's life endangered. Then her best client is murdered. Who could be behind all of these misfortunes? Could it be Alice, Bennie's twin sister who was given away at birth and who resents Bennie? She has caused trouble before and Bennie knows the scandalous behavior that has her peers turning away from her has to be Alice pretending to be her. Is it the most prominent lawyer in town, who is threatened by Bennie's professional success and who has a reputation for playing hardball? Or is it David, a gorgeous guy who turned up out of nowhere and worked his way into Bennie's life. Scottoline has written an engaging mystery. Readers not only get a puzzle to solve but a look into the internal workings of an independent business, and how lawsuits make their way through the courts from start to finish. This book is recommended for mystery lovers.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Dead Ringer too me was just ok and I love this author. Vendetta Defense and Courting Trouble were far better reads. In this book she starts off with too many subplots going at once and strangely there is just too much humor in places not needed, followed by lengthy lectures about class-action lawsuites. The characters are her saving grace and that is what keeps this book floating along. I know she will continue to write other fantastic books to come. If you've never read a book by Ms. Scottoline, read any of her other books first.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Dead Ringer' is a dead ringer for a movie. The plots and subplots are woven with the touch of a master the author has become. Not to be missed. Or read only once.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Accomplished actress Kate Burton has a one of a kind stage voice. (Something in the genes, perhaps?) It doesn't really matter how she acquired her voice; it is simply there for all to enjoy. She can be soothing, menacing, comedic, whatever the role demands. Ms. Burton provides a superb reading of Lisa Scottoline's adventure starring Bennie Rosato, head of an all women Philadelphia law firm. As our story opens said firm is in financial straits. Things couldn't get much worse - the group is about to be tossed out of their offices onto the sidewalk and Bennie feels personally responsible for her partners, Mary DiNunzio and Judy Carrier. Being cash poor is one thing but to have someone trolling about Philadelphia impersonating you and raising all kinds of havoc is quite something else. Bennie knows there's only one person who could pull that off - her mean spirited twin sister, Alice. It's any port in a storm so when Bennie has an opportunity to represent a class-action suit that could be a real money maker she doesn't even think about it - she charges ahead. However, she hadn't counted on murder. Suddenly, the stakes are much higher than she'd ever dreamed. Listen, and be both entertained and surprised. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a very good book. I couldn't put it down. A must read!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Liked the book, fast paced, likeable/loveable characters. Would want Bennie as a friend. This was read as a book club selection, and honestly, there isn't much to discuss! Ending a little hokey. But I would read another book in the series if I was looking for something light but enjoyable to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, as I do all her other works. She knows Philadelphia, acts Philadelphia, IS Philadelphia...with a heart of gold.