Kurt Anthony Krug

The Truth About the Devlins by Lisa ScottolineThe Truth About the Devlins
by Lisa Scottoline
G.P. Putnam's Sons, March 2024, $29.95

In her latest novel The Truth About the Devlins, Lisa Scottoline introduces a dysfunctional family that really puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional.” Yeah, that sounds pretty cliché, but it fits. Oh, does it fit! This family is really something else and Scottoline explores those deliciously screwed-up family dynamics with gusto.

The Devlins are a prominent family of attorneys in Philadelphia. There’s Paul, the no-nonsense patriarch and head of the powerful law firm Devlin & Devlin, who’s a respected man in the community; there’s Marie, his wife, also an attorney, and peacemaker; there’s John, the eldest son and golden boy who’s very driven and wants to take over the firm once Paul retires; there’s Gabby, a crusading attorney who takes on pro bono cases and is a staunch champion of the downtrodden.

Finally, there’s the black sheep of the family: TJ, the youngest child. TJ is on parole and a recovering alcoholic who can’t get a job anywhere else but at his family’s law firm, where he’s an investigator. Really, a sinecure. Paul makes it clear that he’s ashamed of TJ. John is not shy about lording his success over him, either.

The book begins with John turning to TJ—now two years sober—for help. John confides to TJ that he accidentally killed an accountant named Neil Lemaire, one of Devlin & Devlin’s clients, in self-defense after confronting Neil with proof of embezzlement. The brothers race to the scene of the crime, only to find Neil’s body is gone. It’s discovered later and his death is ruled a suicide.

John wants to let it go and move on like nothing happened. TJ won’t let it go, however. As a result, John throws TJ under the bus, telling the family he’s relapsed and undermining what little credibility TJ has with Paul and the rest of his family. Then the police get involved. Knowing he’s on parole, TJ has no choice but to cooperate.

With his back against the wall, TJ still continues looking into the murder as a way to redeem himself in the eyes of his family, only to discover a hotbed of corruption, kickbacks, and corporate greed that may well spell the end of Devlin & Devlin—if he doesn’t get himself killed first.

Scottoline creates a flawed yet likable protagonist with TJ. He’s a man who knows he’s an alcoholic and and understands he deserved to go to prison, but feels he’s paid his debt to society. In short, he took full responsibility for himself and his actions. Now thrust into an untenable situation, he’s determined to prove himself to his family all the while fighting the urge to relapse.

Part family drama, part legal thriller, Scottoline proves once again why she’s a master of the genre. You’ll burn through this book in no time flat.