The Vendetta Defense (Rosato & Associates Series #6)

The Vendetta Defense (Rosato & Associates Series #6)

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In The Vendetta Defense, Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of Moment of Truth and Mistaken Identity, tells a wonderfully rich story of past sins, love and justice.

Lawyer Judy Carrier takes the case of an elderly pigeon racer, Tony Lucia, who has been arrested for the murder of his lifelong enemy Angelo Coluzzi. "Pigeon Tony," as he's known, confesses to Judy that he killed Coluzzi because of a vendetta begun more than fifty years ago.

Her client's guilt, however, is only the beginning of Judy's problems. The Coluzzi family wants revenge, and they are determined to finish off Pigeon Tony and Judy before the case can go to trial.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060594398
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/20/2004
Series: Rosato & Associates Series , #6
Edition description: Abridged
Product dimensions: 0.00(w) x 0.00(h) x (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.

Kate Burton has made numerous stage, film, and television appearances, and was seen on Broadway most recently in Hedda Gabler and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. She played the title role in Alice in Wonderland with her father, Richard Burton, on PBS.


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

Chapter One

The morning Tony Lucia killed Angelo Coluzzi, he was late to feed his pigeons. As long as Tony had kept pigeons, which was for almost all of his seventy-nine years, he had never been late to feed them, and they began complaining the moment he opened the screen door. Deserting their perches, cawing and cooing, they flew agitated around the cages, their wings pounding against the chicken wire, setting into motion the air in the tiny city loft. It didn't help that the morning had dawned clear and that March blew hard outside. The birds itched to fly.

Tony waved his wrinkled hand to settle them, but his heart wasn't in it. They had a right to their bad manners, and he was a tolerant man. It was okay with him if the birds did only one thing, which was to fly home. They were homers, thirty-seven of them, and it wasn't an easy job they had, to travel to a place they'd never been, a distance in some races of three hundred or four hundred miles, then to navigate their return through skies they'd never flown, over city and country they'd never seen and couldn't possibly know, to flap their way home to a tiny speck in the middle of South Philadelphia, all without even stopping to congratulate themselves for this incredible feat, one that man couldn't even explain, much less accomplish.

There were so many mistakes a bird could make. Circling too long, as if it were a joyride or a training toss. Getting distracted on the way, buffeted by sudden bad weather, or worse, simply getting tired and disoriented -- thousands of things could result in the loss of a precious bird. Even once the first bird had made it home, the race wasn't won. Many races hadbeen lost by the bird who wouldn't trap fast enough; the one who was first to reach his loft but who stopped on the roof, dawdling on his way to the trap, so that his leg band couldn't be slipped off and clocked in before another man's bird.

But Tony's birds trapped fast. He bred them for speed, intelligence, and bravery, through six and even seven generations, and over time the birds had become his life. It wasn't a life for the impatient. It took years, even decades, for Tony to see the results of his breeding choices, and it wasn't until recently that his South Philly loft had attained the best record in his pigeon-racing club.

Suddenly the screen door banged open, blown by a gust of wind, startling Tony and frightening the birds in the first large cage. They took panicky wing, seventeen of them, all white as Communion wafers, transforming their cage into a snowy blizzard of whirring and beating, squawking and calling. Pinfeathers flurried and snagged on the chicken wire. Tony hurried to the loft door, silently reprimanding himself for being so careless. Normally he would have latched the screen behind him -- the old door had bowed in the middle, warped with the rain, and wouldn't stay shut without the latch -- but this morning, Tony's mind had been on Angelo Coluzzi.

The white pigeons finally took their perches, which were small plywood boxes lining the walls, but in their panic they had displaced each other, violating customary territories and upsetting altogether the pecking order, which led to a final round of fussing. "Mi dispiace," Tony whispered to the white birds. I'm sorry, in Italian. Though Tony understood English, he preferred Italian. As did his birds, to his mind.

He gazed at the white pigeons, really doves, which he found so beautiful. Large and healthy, the hue of their feathers so pure Tony marveled that only God could make this color. Their pearliness contrasted with the inky roundness of their eye, which looked black but in fact was the deepest of reds, blood-rich. Tony even liked their funny bird-feet, with the flaky red scales and the toe in back with a talon as black as their eyes pretended to be. And he kidded himself into thinking that the doves behaved better than the other birds. More civilized, they seemed aware of how special they were.

The secret reason for the doves' special status was that they were beloved of his son, who had finally stopped Tony from releasing them at weddings for a hundred fifty dollars a pop. Tony had thought it made a good side business; why not make some money to pay for the seed and medicines, plus keep the birds in shape during the off-season? And it made Tony happy to see the brides, whose hearts lifted at the flock of doves taking off outside the church, since you couldn't throw rice anymore. It reminded his heart of his own wedding day, less grand than theirs, though such things didn't matter when it came to love. But his son had hated the whole idea. They're not trained monkeys, Frank had said. They're athletes.

So Tony had relented. "Mi dispiace," he whispered again, this time to his son. But Tony couldn't think about Frank now. It would hurt too much, and he had birds to feed. He shuffled down the skinny aisle, and his old sneakers, their soles worn flat, made a swishing sound on the whitewash of the plywood floor. The floor had held up okay, unlike the screen door; Tony had built the loft himself when he first came to America from Abruzzo, sixty years ago. The loft measured thirty feet long, with the single door in the middle opening onto a skinny aisle that ran the short length of the building. It occupied all of Tony's backyard, as if the loft and yard were nesting boxes. Off the aisle of the loft were three large chicken wire cages lined with box perches. The aisle ended in a crammed feed room, the seed kept safe from rats in a trash can, and there was a bookshelf holding antibiotics, lice sprays, vitamins, and other supplies, all labels out, in clean white shelves.

The Vendetta Defense. 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. What is up with the pigeons? What kind of new kick is Lisa on? Why does she tells us so damn much about pigeons? Will she ever shut about pigeons? Does this matter to plot or character at all? Hint: Lisa is far smarter than she looks. Or acts.

  2. Should this book start on Chapter Two? Would we like it better? No hints. I really want to know what you think. Email me and sound off.

  3. Was Pigeon Tony right to do what he did? Would you have? Do you understand? Do you love/ hate the flashbacks?

  4. Why is Judy the star of this book? Is she good/bad/better/worse than other Scottoline heroines? Do you like her? Does it matter if you do?

  5. What about the Tonys? Are they in there for purpose or just wacky? What could possibly be the purpose? Should Judy trespass in the junkyard? Can you spell sfogatelle?

  6. How hunky is Frank? Does someone named Frank automatically come out hunky or is just me? Is it relevant that Frank is my father's name? Or is this just plain sick?

  7. Are the Coluzzi's, the Tonys, Frank and Pigeon Tony Italian stereotypes? Does it matter? Why? Doesthe Italian-ness of these characters matter, or is Lisa just trying to make a point about identity to further characterize her already sensational characterizations?

  8. Like the courtroom scenes or are you bored? Agree with the verdict or not? How would you have voted if you were on the jury?

  9. How many Scottoline characters are owned by golden retrievers?

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.


Exclusive Author Essay
My Passion by Lisa Scottoline

When Barnes & Noble asked me to write about my passion, I had to think hard. I have so many I couldn't choose. Tomato sauce with sweet basil came instantly to mind, as did good novels, which are an addiction. Red pickup trucks are definitely right up there, and golden retrievers, too. (Golden retrievers in red pickups send me into orbit.) Plus, I admit to being a huge Elvis fan. And Frank Sinatra, of course. You can't be Italian American without loving Francis Albert. They throw you right out.

But when I really think about the one thing that really interests me, and that isn't dead or fattening, the answer is clear:


People are my passion. I love them. And not just the people in my family but other people. Mostly, all people. We're talking about strangers here. The people they warn you not to speak to, I seek out. Ironically, as a fiction writer, I have the most isolated job in the universe -- I sit alone in a room every day for a year to write a novel -- but that has only made me appreciate people more. When I get out of my little room, even to run the most mundane errands, I have the time of my life.

I strike up conversations with high school girls in the ladies' room at the mall, about the merits of liquid versus pencil eyeliner (pencil is totally last year). I chat with old men in the produce aisle about how lousy the strawberries were this summer (the ones from Jersey were still good, so who needs Florida?). I yap with the teenage boy at the gas station about how long it took his cartilage pierce to heal (three weeks, and witch hazel sucks). The lady at the post office can't housebreak her Doberman. I don't tell her she should have gotten a golden. She knows that now.

As you can see, mostly I just listen to people. Everybody has a story; the story of their life. Older people offer that up easily, knowing how valuable it is. They will tell you how they sprinkled baby powder on the dance floors to jitterbug faster, and how they listened to Fiorello La Guardia read them the Sunday comics on the radio. You will wonder how they lived through world wars, and they will tell you that, too.

Younger people need to be prodded, because they don't realize how interesting they are, or how much fun. I ask a few questions and they give away the store, even if it is mostly about Ricky Martin. Every generation needs its Elvis.

Sometimes people, being curious by nature, ask me what I do for a living, and I tell them that I write popular fiction. Thrillers. The first thing they ask is: Where do you get your ideas? And I always answer:

From people.

Because it's the truth.

I swear to Francis Albert.

Lisa Scottoline, a former trial attorney, is the author of seven previous novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Moment of Truth and Mistaken Identity. She lives near Philadelphia.

Customer Reviews

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Vendetta Defense 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This author never dissapoints. Written well with humor, innovative characters, imaginative plots and gripping endings... Lisa Scottoline's books are always a treat!
Anonymous 6 months ago
I enjoyed the first half of the book but then it lost the exciting edge.
Conkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is simply great. Ms. Scottoline wrote a book with depth, humor, suspense, and Ms. Rosenblat did herself proud in the narration. I strongly encourage anyone to listen to this unabridged edition of the book, just to fall in love with Pigeon Tony and his friends. Ms. Rosenblat makes these characters come to life through consistent use of vocal nuances and following the expert pacing set out in the author's lyrical dialogue. If you are new to Ms. Scottoline's writing and/or audiobooks, this is the perfect one to start with. Don't be intimidated that this book is number eight in a series, as it stands so well by itself.
WeeziesBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How could I not enjoy a book with many of the characters named `...Tony¿ and featuring a delightful and heartwarming old man named Pigeon Tony (Tony Lucia), whose life is shaped by a lifelong vendetta? When Pigeon Tony is charged with first degree murder, the lawyer Judy Carrier is pulled into defending him, with great reluctance. When he admits his guilt in killing his lifelong enemy Anthony Coluzzi in Italy, the story become challenging for the attorney and for the reader. I had never understood the stories behind pigeon racing and now I have a greater appreciation of the sport. Scottoline develops her characters well and I became vested in their lives and the story's outcome. There is hatred, sorrow, loyalty, love, romance and suspense. The courtroom scenes felt fairly realistic and the dialogue was entertaining. The involvement of the Tony¿s (Pigeon Tony¿s friends) was similar to the feeling an Badacci¿s Camel Club characters. The connection to the title ¿The Vendetta Defense¿ was clear from the beginning and that was a refreshing change. I have not read many Lisa Scottoline books but I will definitely read another as this book was enjoyable and easy to follow with enough action to keep me reading. A fun read for a cold winter night by the fire or on the beach on a warm summer day. I give this a 4 not because it was a great book, but because it was a very enjoyable read.
PermaSwooned on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I actually like Judy Carrier and her pal Mary better than I like Bennie Rosato, who is the attorney that heads up the law firm featured in Lisa Scottoline's books. Good story....a good legal thriller-type read.
craneflat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this as a book on tape at a used bookstore and was having a blast listening to the book until I got to a tape that was damaged. I searched at used bookstores to find another copy but I came up empty-handed. I was too cheap to buy the new book-on-tape and found the used paperback instead. I just couldn't get into it without the cool narrator. I've got to look for this on CD at the library and finally finish it now that it's been a few years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. As an Italian American from south Philadelphia and my father being born in marche, mondolfo, Italy it was especially great.
L.M.Spaeth More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully entertaining book. The historical parts are well researched and are for your information only. They are not used to push history down your throat. It all comes together to enhance the well written storyline which also includes pigeon racing and takes you on a journey you will love….and hate. This book shows the passions of the Italians and how they band together for a well loved friend to get justice for past wrongs and murders, whether in Italy or America. There should be more lawyers like Judy Carrier and more people like the friends of Pigeon Tony. Grazie Lisa for another thrilling novel !!!
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25jump More than 1 year ago
Loved the story.  I can identify with some parts of the story.  Our friends always feel as if they have to be with you at all times.  And if there is a meeting, yes it is an informal party.  Judy does not understand this butt she will.   At last Judy gets a personal life, grandson appears to be her match.  Read the book you will love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters weren't and annoying too much about clothes and shoes and name brands. Spenser was the only one who could do shoes food and fashion without being gender stuff buska
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nook should include full cataloging in blurb you can get interested and find many unavailable even on nook
Joshtbear More than 1 year ago
I have to say this was the BEST book I've "read" (I do audiobooks while working out)!  This book is very long, but I couldn't stop listening to it.  Couldn't wait to work out again to get back into it each time.  And I'm a tough book critic.  :)
leonardevens More than 1 year ago
You will like this if you are hooked on Lisa Scottoline legal, Philadelphia, Italian mysteries. I must admit I am hooked, although I'm not sure why since I have never lived in Philadelphia and I am not Italian. This novel is about the defence of Tony "Pigeon". one of Mary's father's friends. He has actually killed someone and the suspense is about how Mary and her colleagues will get him off.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good reading, funny, and interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well-written, gets you involved with the characters, great plot and great humor. I love Pigeon Tony and all the characters. I intend to read more Lisa Scottoline books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So damn funny! I know people like these characters. If you need to take your mind off your troubles and have a good laugh then read this book. One of my favorites in this genre!
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