ShareThis Page

Author Lisa Scottoline tackles thorny insurance issue

| Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, 8:57 p.m.
Author Lisa Scottoline
Submitted
Author Lisa Scottoline
'Exposed' by Lisa Scottoline
Submitted
'Exposed' by Lisa Scottoline

For her new novel, “Exposed,” Lisa Scottoline became an expert on cubicles. That's not slang for an arcane legal concept, but the nondescript dividers that demarcate office spaces.

“I actually had a source that didn't want to be identified,” says Scottoline, who appears Aug. 17 at the Oakmont Carnegie Library as a guest of Mystery Lovers Bookshop. “You wouldn't believe who I have talked to. I've got sensitive information. Apparently (the cubicle industry) is pretty cutthroat.”

“Exposed,” Scottoline's 29th novel, features attorney Mary DiNunzio and her large and boisterous Italian family from Philadelphia, and Bennie Rosato, Mary's law partner. The two women come from different backgrounds and have different temperaments. But a case involving a cubicle salesman, Simon Pensiera, who is part of Mary's extended family, threatens their partnership and friendship when a conflict of interest arises.

“I've been doing it for so long, and I would like to say it's all planned and conscious, but really it isn't,” Scottoline says. “It's what story has occurred to me. And I don't know why this one occurred to me.”

When Simon is fired from his company — his boss says it's because of performance, but he suspects it's because health care costs have gone up for his cancer-stricken little girl — Scottoline tapped into her former career as a lawyer. But she also tried to balance the legal issues with human concerns.

“I thought this is the kind of stuff employers go through and parents go through,” she says. “It sort of forms the subplot for this kind of battle between these two women lawyers, who have their own stresses and strains. Even though Bennie is so cool and Mary looks up to her, Mary starts to come into her own and has become a problem for Bennie. So there's a couple of emotional journeys.”

The tension between Mary and Bennie has never been more delineated in the series, now in its fifth book. Scottoline's research included conflict of interest issues for law firms — “I actually thought there would be a very cut-and-dried answer to that” — and the aforementioned foray into cubicles.

“I felt very lucky in that all these thorny legal questions and ethical questions and emotional questions blended into one,” she says.

While both characters undergo drastic changes by the end of the novel, Scottoline says it is too early to determine if “Exposed” heralds a shift in the series, notably in Bennie's personality and demeanor. Her characters are affected by events in different ways, but Scottoline refuses to manipulate them for the sake of manipulation.

Nevertheless, Bennie and Mary may be on the verge of significant life changes.

“I think that might be happening,” Scottoline says. “I try not to plan it too far in advance because you really want it to be organic, and you really want to proceed from events. Not everybody is affected by events in the same way. But I think (Bennie) is changing, and Mary is changing.

“That's the cool thing about a series versus a standalone. I like to do both, but it's sort of interesting to see how time and events change people.”

Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.