New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline discusses her new book, Betrayed, and how she portrays justice in all of her books.
I have written twenty-four novels, and all of them involve justice.
I'm passionate about justice, but I'm not sure why. You might think it's because I was a lawyer, but it’s the other way around.
I became a lawyer because I was interested in justice.
And that's when I learned that law doesn't always lead to justice.
On the contrary, I learned that law can even thwart justice.
So then I became a writer and began a lifelong quest to explore the nature of justice. I wanted to understand the true meaning of justice, to suss out whether it was the same thing as fairness, punishment, moral rightness, or simply a happy ending.
Now that's an inquiry that can put you to sleep if it sounds like legal philosophy, but not if it's the thematic underpinning of a whopping good story that you're not able to put down.
And that’s my goal, every novel. To write a book that simply is impossible to put down, one that will keep you thinking, make you cry, make you laugh, or even haunt you for time.
And so my books involve all manner of justice.
Sometimes in my books, justice is literal, in that a bad guy is called to account for a crime, and for those, I write the Rosato & DiNunzio series, the new spinoff of the Rosato & Associates series. In the series, four women lawyers in the same law firm use their wits, bravery, legal expertise, and excellent sense of humor to find justice for their clients, their family members, friends, and generally for anybody in the tri-state area.
My characters are very busy.
And often busybodies.
But they're funny, smart, and braver than they understand, like most women, and where justice is concerned, they are not picky about whether they get paid or not.
Which is very much the issue in my most recent entry in this series, BETRAYED. In the novel, lawyer Judy Carrier is trying to find the killer of a friend of her beloved aunt, but ends up in a fight with the boss when she wants to take the case without charging a fee.
Judy thinks justice should be free.
Good luck with that.
By the way, the fact that the main characters in Rosato are women doesn't mean that these books are written for women. Many of my readers are men, and I don't view myself as writing for a set of reproductive organs.
I'm writing for your heart.
And your soul.
Which brings me to the emotional justice that grounds my standalone novels, like KEEP QUIET. The main characters in those novels aren't lawyers, but are pediatricians, army surgeons, journalists, and stay-at-home moms, all of whom find themselves in a position in their everyday life that they never could have anticipated - and one which will involve them confronting what justice really means, to them.
For example, in the forthcoming EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES, a hospital psychiatrist is called on an emergency consult with a troubled young man who has obsessive thoughts about a young woman. The psychiatrist must decide whether his patient presents a danger to a woman, in which case he must warn her or the police. That decision necessarily involves feelings about justice, rightness, morality, and law.
Not all of us will have to deal with a question like that.
But you never know where your life will lead.
Fiction about justice gets us thinking about right and wrong, moral and immoral, fairness and unfairness.