Courting Trouble
Lisa Scottoline
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Buy *Courting Trouble* online
Daddy's Girl
Lisa Scottoline
432 pages
June 2003
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Courting Trouble may not be mystery author Lisa Scottoline's best outing (try her Edgar-winning Final Appeal or Legal Tender for a taste of what she's really capable of), but it's certain to whet the appetites of readers who haven't yet joined her legion of fans -- especially those readers who like to make believe they're smart, beautiful, likably self-deprecating career women. Redheaded knockout Anne Murphy joins the all-woman Philadelphia law firm of Rosato & Associates (familiar to faithful Scottoline readers from previous novels Legal Tender, Mistaken Identity and The Vendetta Defense), and what an entrance she makes.

Curled Up With a Good BookAnne has brought a big money dot-com client to the firm -- Gil Martin, an acquaintance from law school.  He's being hit with a sexual harassment suit by an employee, and Anne believes Gil's proclamations of innocence. She has won almost every pre-trial motion, and to gear up for the trial she decides to head out of Philly to the shore for the Fourth of July weekend. Leaving her cat in the care of a woman she met at her health club, she rents a Mustang and cruises out of town.

When she picks up a Philadelphia newspaper the next morning, she's jolted back to a past she tried to leave behind. LAWYER FOUND MURDERED, blares the headline, right above Anne's own law school photo. Only Anne knows she's not dead, and she decides to keep it that way to stay alive and catch the killer who drove her to Philadelphia -- Kevin Satorno, the man convicted of stalking and assaulting her, an obsessed man who's escaped from a California prison.

Anne sneaks back to Philly, back into her three-story townhouse, back to the murder scene. She's positive the true victim was her catsitter, an innocent, lonely artist pulled randomly into Kevin Satorno's deadly obsession. When Anne's co-workers show up at her place, she decides to let them in on her secret so they can help her -- even though she's pretty sure they all hate her guts. But people change, and relationships change (an important point that echoes in several subplots). Anne lets herself open up to the women who are all that stands between her and Kevin Satorno, and begins to discover the real joy of friendship. And when she lets her feelings show for her opposing counsel, she discovers that being alone isn't always best for someone who's been hurt too many times.

The plotting in Courting Trouble is a little heavy, but it's forgivable if for nothing else than being the vehicle that introduces impulsive, funny Anne Murphy. The patriotic hooker scene at a cheater's-hotel is a hoot, and her encounter with Rosato associate Mary's parents is warm and fuzzy without being cloying. Repeated jokes about Anne's addiction to Blahniks (talk about your shoe horse, this woman), her kitty Mel's many incarnations (among them Sphinx Cat and Attack Cat), and her hilarious "Mental Notes" to herself make this a novel worth kicking your shoes off, putting your feet up, and settling in with a box of chocolates for.

© 2002 by Sharon Schulz-Elsing for Curled Up With a Good Book

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