What do you do when you see the front-page headlines screaming that you've been murdered? Tell the police it's all a mistake, of course. At first blush, yes. But think this through. Whose body showed up with holes in it, and why do the authorities think that it's you? Besides, who has a motive to see you dead? When you look at all the possibilities, maybe you want to back off of that first impression, dig into the facts around the whole situation before making a hasty, and possibly fatal, decision. That's just where Anne Murphy, a beautiful, young Philadelphia lawyer, finds herself.
The day before the nation's birthday celebration, Anne pulls off a gutsy coup in the courtroom, winning a motion in a highly unconventional way. Heady with victory, she looks around for someone with whom to share her triumph, but since she doesn't have any friends, no one comes to mind. So, despite her aversion to exercise, she forces herself to work out at the gym on her way home. There, she befriends Willa Hansen, a petsitter, and arranges for Willa to take care of Mel, her personable cat, over the Fourth of July weekend. Fortunately, for Anne, she finds an apartment at the shore at the last minute. Now she can escape the bedlam of patriotism on Independence Day in the City of Brotherly Love, and get some work done preparing for the big trial on Tuesday. She spends the evening enduring holiday traffic, arriving late at her quiet retreat.
On her early morning jog the next day, Anne glimpses the horrifying words at the newsstand, "Lawyer Found Murdered." As she reads the subheading, she discovers, to her total bewilderment, that she is the victim. It slowly dawns on her that Willa must have died in her place, and her suspicion is that Kevin, a deranged stalker from her past, must have gotten out of prison early.
Anne realizes early on that she will need help. She turns to three members of the all-women law firm where she works. The rest of the holiday weekend is filled with the capers of these four gorgeous lawyers chasing clues around Philly in a red Mustang convertible. Bennie Rosato, the firm's owner, becomes the voice of reason among her young associates. Curbing their sometimes harebrained schemes, however, proves too much even for her. With Anne falling in love with opposing counsel on her largest case, Bennie has her hands full keeping everyone focused on what's important.
The final plan, however, is Anne's alone. While it works fairly well, all does not go exactly as hoped. Then comes the surprise.
Ms. Scottoline's fans, especially those who have awaited the return of Bennie Rosato & Associates, will find this an easy summer read.
The bottom line is that COURTING TROUBLE, unlikely plot or not, is loads of fun, lots of good girl talk, with a sexy car and a great wrap-up.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on October 12, 2011