Running from the Law

Running from the Law

by Lisa Scottoline

Hardcover(1st ed)

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Whether it's poker or trial law, wisecracking Rita Morrone plays to win, especially when she takes on the defense of the Honorable Fiske Hamilton, a prominent federal judge accused of sexual harassment. And it's no coincidence that the judge is her live-in lover's father. Then the action turns deadly, and Rita finds herself at the center of a murder case. She probes deep into the murder, uncovering a secret life and suspects in shocking places. When the killer viciously ups the ante, Rita decides to end this lethal game. She lays it all on the line for the highest stakes ever—her life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060176594
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/28/1995
Edition description: 1st ed
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.41(w) x 9.46(h) x 0.98(d)

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

Any good poker player will tell you the secret to a winning bluff is believing it yourself. I know this, so by the time I cross-examined the last witness, I believed. I was in deep, albeit fraudulent, mourning. Now all I had to do was convince the jury.

"Would you examine this document for me, sir?" I said, my voice hoarse with fake grief. I did the bereavement shuffle to the witness stand and handed an exhibit to Frankie Costello, a lump of a plant manager with a pencil-thin mustache.

"You want I should read it?" Costello asked.

No, I want you should make a paper airplane. "Yes, read it, please."

Costello bent over the document, and I snuck a glance at the jury through my imaginary black veil. A few returned my gaze with mounting sympathy. The trial had been postponed last week because of the death of counsel's mother, but the jury wasn't told which lawyer's mother had died. It was defense counsel's mother who'd just passed on, not mine, but don't split hairs, okay? You hand me an ace, I'm gonna use it.

"I'm done," Costello said, after the first page.

"Please examine the attachments, sir."

"Attachments?" he asked, cranky as a student on the vocational track.

"Yes, sir." I leaned heavily on the burled edge of the witness stand and looked down with a mournful sigh. I was wearing black all over: black suit, black pumps, black hair pulled back with a black grosgrain ribbon. My eyes were raccoony, too, but from weeks of lost sleep over this trial, which had been slipping through my manicured fingers until somebody choked on her last chicken bone.

"Give me a minute," Costello said, tracing a graph with a stubby finger.

"Take all the time you need, sir."

He labored over the chart as the courtroom fell silent. The only sound was the death rattle of an ancient air conditioner that proved no match for a Philadelphia summer. It strained to cool the large Victorian courtroom, one of the most ornate in City Hall. The courtroom was surrounded by rose marble wainscotting and its high ceiling was painted robin's-egg blue with gold crown molding. A mahogany rail contained the jury, and I stole another glance at them. The old woman and the pregnant mother in the front row were with me all the way. But I couldn't read the grim-faced engineer who'd been peering at me all morning. Was he sympathetic or suspicious?

"I'm done," Costello said, and thrust the exhibit at me in a Speedy Gonzales fit of pique. We don't need no steenking badges.

"Thank you," I said, meaning it. It was a mistake not to keep the exhibit. You'll see why. "Mr. Costello, have you had an adequate opportunity to read Joint Exhibit 121?"


"This isn't the first time you've seen these documents, is it, sir?" My voice echoed in the empty courtroom. There were no spectators in the pews, not even the homeless. The Free Library was cooler, and this trial was boring even me until today.

"Nah," Costello said. "I seen it before."

"You prepared the memorandum yourself, didn't you?"

"Yeh." Costello shifted in the direction of his lawyer, George W. Vandivoort IV, the stiff-necked fellow at the defense table. Vandivoort wore a pin-striped suit, horn-rimmed glasses, and a bright-eyed expression. He manifested none of the grief of a man who had buried his own mother only days ago, which was fine with me. I had rehearsed enough grief for both of us.

"Mr. Costello, did you send Exhibit 121 to Bob Brown, director of operations at Northfolk Paper, with a copy to Mr. Saltzman?"

Costello paused, at a loss without the memo in front of him. Who can remember what they just read? Nobody. Who would ask for the memo back? Everybody except an Italian male. "I think so," he said slowly.

"And you sent Mr. Rizzo a blind copy, isn't that correct, sir?"

He tried to remember. "Yeh."

"Just so I'm clear on this, a blind copy is when you send a memo or letter to someone, but the memo doesn't show that you did, isn't that right?" A point with no legal significance, but juries hate blind copies.

"Yeh. It's standard procedure to Mr. Rizzo, Mr. Dell'Orefice, and Mr. Facelli."

Even better, it sounded like the Mafia. I glanced at one of the black jurors, who was frowning deeply. He lived in Southeast Philly on the ragged fringe of the Italian neighborhood, and had undoubtedly taken his share of abuse. His frown meant I had collected six jurors so far. But what about the engineer? I tried to look sadder.

Suddenly an authoritative cough issued from the direction of the judge's paneled dais. "Ms. Morrone, I don't appreciate what you're doing," snapped the Honorable Gordon H. Kroungold, a sharp Democrat who was elevated to the bench from an estates practice, where nobody would ever dream of exploiting someone's death. At least not in open court. "I don't appreciate what you're doing at all."

"I'm proceeding as quickly as I can, Your Honor," I said, looking innocently up at the dais. It towered above my head, having been built in a time when we thought judges belonged on pedestals.

"That's not what I meant, Ms. Morrone." Judge Kroungold smoothed down a triangle of frizzy hair with an open hand. He wetted his hair down with water every morning, but after the second witness it would reattain its loft. "It's your demeanor I'm having a problem with, counsel."

Stay calm. Your mother's not even cold, poor baby. "I'm afraid I don't understand, Your Honor."

Judge Kroungold's dark eyes glowered. "Approach the bench, Ms. Morrone. You, too, Mr. Vandivoort."

"Of course, Your Honor," Vandivoort said, jumping up and hustling over. His mother's death had put such a spring into his step that he almost beat me to the dais. An inheritance, no doubt.

"Ms. Morrone, what the hell do you think you're doing?" Judge Kroungold asked, stretching down over his desk. "Is this some kind of stunt?"

Gulp. "I beg your pardon?"

"Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about."

"Your Honor?"

"Please." Judge Kroungold looked around for his court reporter and waved him over irritably. "Wesley, I want this on the record."

The court reporter, an older black man with oddly grayish skin, picked up the stenography machine by its steel tripod and huddled with us at the front of the dais. A sidebar conversation is out of the jury's hearing, but not the appellate court's. The word disbarment flitted across my mind, but I shooed it away.

"Ms. Morrone," Judge Kroungold said, "please tell me, on the record, that I'm not seeing what I think I'm seeing."

"I don't understand what you mean, Your Honor. What is it you're seeing?"

"No, Ms. Morrone. No, no, no. Nuh-uh. You tell me exactly what you're doing." Judge Kroungold leaned so far over that I experienced a fine spray of judicial saliva. "You tell me. Right now."

"I'm conducting my cross-examination of this final witness, Your Honor."

The judge's liver-colored lips set in a determined line. "So it would appear. But let me state for the record that you seem very tired today, Ms. Morrone. Very lethargic. One would even say that you seem depressed."

I didn't know he cared. "Your Honor, I am tired. It's been a long trial and I've worked this case myself. I don't have the associates Mr. Vandivoort does, from Webster & Dunne," I said, loud enough for the jury to hear.

Judge Kroungold's eyes slipped toward the jury, then bored down into me. "Lower your voice, counsel. Now."

Win some, lose some. "Yes, sir."

"I would never have expected to see something like this in my courtroom. For God's sake, you're even wearing a black suit!"

"I noticed that, too," Vandivoort added, as it began to dawn on him.

"Your Honor," I said, "I've worn this suit to court many times."

"Not in this trial you haven't," the judge spat back. Literally. "And no makeup. Last week you had on lipstick, but not today. What happened to that pink lipstick? Too bright?"

Time to raise him. "Your Honor, why are we discussing my clothing and makeup in court? Do you make comments of this sort to the male attorneys who appear before you?"

Judge Kroungold blinked, then his eyes narrowed. "You know damn well I wasn't making . . . comments."

"With all due respect, Your Honor, I find your comments inappropriate. I object to them and to the tenor of this entire sidebar as an unfortunate example of gender bias."

His mouth fell so far open I could see his bridgework. "What? I'm not biased against you. In fact, I took great pains in my instruction not to tell the jury whose mother had died, in order to avoid undue sympathy for the defense. You, Ms. Morrone, are giving the jury the distinct and entirely false impression that it was your mother who died and not Mr. Vandivoort's." Running From the Law. Copyright © by Lisa Scottoline. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

Janet Evanovich

"Lisa Scottoline has been added to my short list for must-read authors. Her stories are teeth gnashing suspense, her charactes are compelling, and her humor cuts to the heart of the issue with laser-like accuracy."

Richard North Patterson

"Quick, witty, powerful and absorbing. Ms. Selttoline's distinctive voice makes this book a pleasure to read, and I did so at warp speed."

Stephen L. Isaacs

"What fun! Lisa Scottoline brings something new to the lawyer-mystery - a golden sense of humor."

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. What in God's name does the title refer to? Do we have any idea how hard titles are for Lisa, who loves to talk and needs 1,829,000 words to say anything and can't whittle it down to two? (Remember, she is Italian.)

  2. Are we as interested in poker as Rita Morrone is? Why does she like it? What does it tell us about her? Why can't Lisa play poker to save her life?

  3. Is Rita's relationship to her father good or bad? Important or not? Is it good to wave sharp objects at your kids?

  4. Are we hot for Tobin? Why is Rita attracted to him? Are you? Do you have a pulse? Who does she end up with? Is she right or is this another example of Stupid Decisions Women Make?

  5. What do we think of the old poker players? Are they important, stupid, great, or just anther wacky Scottoline detour, because she is crazy about that generation? Do they ring true? (Say yes.) Do you know people like them? Wish you did? Grateful you don't?

  6. Gang violence isn't funny. Something to consider: I went to an actual funeral of a child, caught in gang crossfire, to write this chapter. I had my pick. That summer there wasone funeral every weekend. Can reading books or writing books stop this?

  7. Like the ending? Hate the ending? Guess the bad guy/girl? Why did he/she do it?

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.

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Running from the Law 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
curlyhair More than 1 year ago
Will definitely hold your interest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lisa Scottoline not only writes books I am unable to put down, she adds a wry sense of humor. Her characters think the things we'd all like to say when faced with someone asking a moronic question. Example: She hand a witness a piece of paper & he asks 'You want that I should read this?'. Her main character thinks to herself: 'No, I want that you should make a paper airplane!'. Just what I would have wanted to say.
adelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First, I have to say that I love how Lisa Scottoline writes about heroines in her books¿ and allows them to say the F word!I am addicted to her books right now, but I enjoyed this more than the rest that I have read.
moonshineandrosefire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Against her better judgment, Rita Morrone, a smart-mouthed, poker playing, sassy young lawyer takes on the task of defending her lover's father - a respected judge - from sexual harrassment charges leveled by his secretary. Little does she know that Paul, her lover, is involved in the case, the secretary will end up dead, and her and her father's life will hang in the balance. Rita continues to investigate and with the help of her poker playing cronies, discovers that the judge may well have been framed. I really enjoyed this book and give it an A!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book when it first came out in was a great story then and now. Try the first few chapters and I'm sure you'll be hooked. What great characters and it has a twist at the end you won't see coming. Jp
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SadieSueMarie More than 1 year ago
As usual Lisa Scottoline never disappoints. Her books are one of the best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
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Enjoy most of Lisa Scottoline's books. Good read.
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MJDavis More than 1 year ago
This story will keep you interested from the first page to the last. Yes, it is light reading but oh so entertaining! I have read all Lisa Scottoline's books, and I have never beeen disappointed. She tells a great tale!
Love-my-NookNJ More than 1 year ago
A great beach book. Nothing to heavy. good plot and a fun read.
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