A troubled 13-year-old girl hires lawyers to prove the man in prison for killing her sister is innocent. Six years ago, Allegra Gardner's sister Fiona was murdered. Now 13, she is using some of her trust fund to hire Mary DiNunzio and her firm to prove the man serving a 40 year prison sentence for her murder is an innocent man. The case turns out to have a number of complications. Allegra is a genius and is certainly mature enough to make her argument. But her parents completely object to the idea and since they are one of the most powerful families in Philadelphia, their attitude means quite a bit.
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DiNunzio agrees to help find the real murderer, but the case comes at a tough time for her. She's just been promoted to partner at her firm and her boyfriend has just proposed to her. So as she's trying to feel joy for all of those things, she's also battling an angry family and a best friend who thinks Allegra is just a sad and misguided kid. And there's some reason to believe that might be the case. She remembers things in a way that no one else in her family does and when her parents admit her to the hospital for treatment, DiNunzio learns the young girl recently tried to kill herself.
But she believes the man accused of the crime is innocent and is slowly able to bring doubt to the case. She discovers that Fiona's angry ex-boyfriend was at the party, despite his claims. She also finds evidence that someone paid the supposed killer to go to prison in exchange for money to pay for his mother's cancer treatments. DiNunzio is attacked while driving back to her office and realizes the attacker is the Gardner's personal lawyer. After subduing him, he confesses to the police that he and a younger Gardner brother had been embezzling from the family business. When Fiona discovered the theft, they killed her.
The two men are arrested, the falsely accused man is going to be set free and DiNunzio finally has the time to show her husband-to-be just how happy she is to be a fiancee.
Best part of story, including ending:
The plot was complex and the true identity of the killer wasn't easy to figure out. It is a very well-constructed murder mystery.
Best scene in story:
The scene in which the Gardner parents realize that they were wrong about the murder of their oldest daughter and the obsession their youngest had with the case. They are pretty much portrayed as jerks through the entire book until the very end. But the change is welcome and worth the wait.
Opinion about the main character:
Mary DiNunzio and her big extended Italian family are hilarious. They're loving and loud and deserve a book all their own.