Anne Murphy is the redheaded rookie at the Philadelphia law firm of Rosato & Associates, and one morning she wakes up to front-page headlines proclaiming lawyer murdered -- above her own picture. If she wants to stay alive, she's got to play dead. She'll have to trust people she barely knows -- colleagues who hate her, homicide cops who want her out of the crime-fighting business, and a new love who inconveniently happens to be opposing counsel. But her knack for courting trouble makes it almost impossible for Anne to play well with others, and an unexpected event places her in lethal jeopardy and leaves her with everything to lose.
About the Author
Lisa Scottoline is a #1 bestselling and award-winning author of more than thirty-two novels. She also co-authors a bestselling non-fiction humor series with her daughter, Francesca Serritella. There are more than thirty million copies of Lisa's books in print in more than thirty-five countries. She lives in Pennsylvania with an array of disobedient but adorable pets.
Date of Birth:July 1, 1955
Place of Birth:Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981
Read an Excerpt
Anne Murphy barreled through the bustling lobby of the William Green Federal Courthouse, her long, auburn hair flying. She was about to do something crazy in court and couldn't wait to get upstairs. If she won, she'd be a hero. If she lost, she'd go to jail. Anne didn't think twice about the if-she-lost part. She was a redhead, which is a blonde with poor impulse control.
"Ms. Murphy, Ms. Murphy, just one question!" a reporter shouted, dogging her heels, but Anne charged ahead, trying to ditch him in the crowd.
Federal employees, lawyers, and jurors crisscrossed the lobby to the exits, hurrying home to start the Fourth of July weekend, but heads turned at the sight of the stunning young woman. Anne had wide-set eyes of willow-green, a straight nose dusted with freckles, and a largish mouth, glossy with an artful swipe of raisiny lipstick. Very female curves filled out a suit of cream-colored silk, and her long, lean legs tapered to fine ankles, ending in impractical Manolo Blahnik heels. Anne looked like a model, but given her past didn't even think of herself as pretty. None of us outgrows the kid in the bathroom mirror.
"Uh-oh, here comes trouble!" called one of the court security officers, as Anne approached the group of dark polyester blazers clustered around the metal detectors. Manning the machines were five older guards, all retired Philly cops, flashing appreciative grins. The guard calling to Anne was the most talkative, with a still-trim figure, improbably black hair, and a nameplate that read OFFICER SALVATORE BONANNO. "Gangway, fellas! It's Red, andshe's loaded for bear!"
"Right again, Sal." Anne tossed her leather briefcase and a Kate Spade messenger bag onto the conveyor belt. "Wish me luck."
"What's cookin', good-lookin'?"
"The usual. Striking a blow for justice. Paying too much for shoes." Anne strode through the security portal as her bags glided through the X-ray machine. "You gentlemen got plans for the holiday weekend?"
"I'm takin' you dancin'," Officer Bonanno answered with a dentured smile, and the other guards burst into guffaws made gravelly by cigarette breaks at the loading dock off of Seventh Street. Bonanno ignored them cheerfully. "I'm gonna teach you to jitterbug, ain't I, Red?"
"Ha!" Officer Sean Feeney broke in, grinning. "You and the lovely Miss Murphy, Sal? In your dreams!" Feeney was a ruddy-faced, heavyset sixty-five-year-old, with eyebrows as furry as caterpillars. "She's an Irish girl and she's savin' herself for me." He turned to Anne. "Your people from County Galway, right, Annie? You got pretty skin, like the girls in Galway."
"Galway, that near Glendale?" Anne asked, and they laughed. She never knew what to say when someone commented on her looks. The X-ray machine surrendered her belongings, and she reached for them as two reporters caught up with her, threw their bags onto the conveyor belt, and started firing questions.
"Ms. Murphy, any comment on the trial next week?" "Why won't your client settle this case?" "Isn't this ruining Chipster's chance to go public?" They kept interrupting each other. "Anne, what's this motion about today?" "Why do you want to keep this evidence from the jury?"
"No comment, please." Anne broke free, grabbed her bags, and bolted from the press, but it turned out she didn't have to. Officer Bonanno was confronting the reporters, hard-eyed behind his bifocals.
"Yo, people!" he bellowed, Philly-style. "You know the rules! None o' that in the courthouse! Why you gotta give the young lady a hard time?"
Officer Feeney frowned at the first reporter and motioned him over. "Come 'ere a minute, sir. I think you need a full-body scan." He reached under the security counter and emerged with a handheld metal detector. "Come on, in fact, both of youse." He waved the wand at the second reporter, and the other security guards lined up behind him like an aged phalanx.
"But I'm the press!" the reporter protested. "This is my beat! You see me every day. I'm Allen Collins, I have an ID." Behind him, his canvas briefcase stalled suddenly in the X-ray machine, and the guard watching the monitor was already confiscating it. The reporter turned back, puzzled. "Hey, wait a minute!"
Officer Bonanno dismissed Anne to the elevators with a newly authoritative air. "Go on up, Miss!"
"Thanks, Officer," Anne said, suppressing a smile as she grabbed the open elevator and hit the button for the ninth floor. She hadn't asked for the assist and felt vaguely guilty accepting it. But only vaguely.
Minutes later, Anne reached the ninth floor and entered the spacious, modern courtroom, which was packed. The Chipster case, for sexual harassment against Gil Martin, Philadelphia's best-known Internet millionaire, had attracted press attention since the day it was filed, and reporters, sketch artists, and the public filled the sleek modern pews of dark wood. Their faces swiveled almost as one toward Anne as she strode down the carpeted center aisle.
Bailiffs in blue blazers stopped conferring over the docket sheets, law clerks straightened new ties, and a female court reporter shot daggers over her blue steno machine, on its spindly metal legs. Anne had grown accustomed to the reaction; men adored her, women hated her. She had nevertheless joined the all-woman law firm of Rosato & Associates, which had turned out to be a very redheaded career move. But that was another story.
She reached counsel table and set down her briefcase and purse, then looked back. A young man dressed in a lightweight trench coat was sitting, as planned, on the aisle in the front row behind her. Anne acknowledged him discreetly, then took her seat, opened her briefcase, and pulled out a copy of her motion papers. The motion and the young man on the...Courting Trouble. Copyright © by Lisa Scottoline. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
What People are Saying About This
Lisa Scottoline's legal suspense novels are a law unto themselves -- biting humor, social satire, snappy dialogue, and surprising plot twists. Best of all, Scottoline's characters command your attention and draw you into their lives and their world. Courting Trouble is a great work of contemporary writing: smary, edgy, witty and perfectly paced, not to mention great fun.
Reading Group Guide
Many book clubs have written Lisa asking for questions to guide their discussion, so Lisa came up with a bunch for each book. Her goal in writing books is to entertain, so it goes without saying that Lisa wants you to have lots of fun discussing her books, and has reflected that in her questions. She provides the talking points, and you and your group shape the conversation. So go ahead, get together, chat it up with your friends, discuss books, kids, and relationships, but by all means, have fun.
- Anne is hot, young, and nice. Or is she?
- Why do women hate/compete with/not support other women? Or is Lisa just feeling cranky?
- This formerly chummy law firm doesn't look so chummy from the outside. How does this happen? Who is right and who's at fault? And why do some people dye their hair blue?
- Is Anne smart to play dead?
- What would it be like to have tons of men but no girlfriends? Who would like to try?
- Is Anne insanely reckless or is she just bold?
- Isn't a convertible more fun than any other car in the world? Why don't more women drive them? Should you put a baby seat in one? Why doesn't Lisa just go right out and get herself one? God knows she deserves it, and doesn't need to put a baby seat in it.
- Are Anne's disguises fun or just silly? Do they serve a greater purpose? Are some characters more prone to disguises and why?
- Let's talk about belonging and patriotism. Sooner or later somebody will get choked up. Lisa always does.
About the author
Lisa Scottoline is a New York Timesbestselling author and former trial lawyer. She has won the Edgar Award, the highest prize in suspense fiction, and the Distinguished Author Award from the Weinberg Library of the University of Scranton. She has served as the Leo Goodwin Senior Professor of Law and Popular Culture at Nova Southeastern Law School, and her novels are used by bar associations for the ethical issues they present. Her books are published in more than twenty languages. She lives with her family in the Philadelphia area.
Exclusive Author Essay
Bestselling phenomenon Lisa Scottoline details her memorable recipe for writing a thriller and offers a glimpse into her thorough and highly dedicated research for Courting Trouble.
Many readers want to write their own thriller, and I think they should. Everyone has a book in them, and anybody who is published today was once unpublished. While it is absolutely true that there's no right way to write a thriller, you may want to look over my rules, honed now over nine suspense novels. The key is the M&Ms:
Rule 1: Start with nothing but the barest idea.
Don't plan anything in advance. Skip the outline and get started. In Courting Trouble, I began to write as soon as I had the idea of a woman solving her own murder. I didn't know what would happen next; I didn't even know what I was talking about. For me, this means go, baby, go! When you realize that your mortgage payment depends on your finishing the book, you will experience true fear. Then the suspense in your thriller will have a realistic underpinning.
Rule 2: Work like an animal and jeopardize your last chance at marital happiness.
Because I don't know if my story will work, I am filled with unnecessary anxiety during the writing process, and I work ridiculous hours. I obsess over each sentence. I massage phrases. I agonize over active verbs. I hole up in my office. I never come out. I'm Howard Hughes without the beard. See for yourself -- I'm on the webcam at www.scottoline.com. (You'll recognize me right away: I'm the only fully clothed woman on the Internet.)
Rule 3: When you get stuck, eat something.
Actually, when you get stuck, eat anything. Go downstairs to the fridge and discover the possibilities. Peanut butter and jelly with a glass of cold milk is as refreshing as you remember. Spaghetti tastes even better cold. Relish can be eaten alone. M&Ms have superpowers. When you have eaten enough, ideas about the plot will magically come into your brain. If the ideas don't magically appear, you just haven't eaten enough. Keep eating. Once you are full, you should be ready to conclude your thriller.
Rule 4: Have no idea how the mystery ends until you get there.
Don't decide until the end who did it. I used this method in Courting Trouble, and it lead to a boffo surprise ending. Nobody was more surprised than me. Other writers will say, "the book will tell you how it should end." These are the same writers who tell you that their characters write themselves. Unfortunately, my characters do not write themselves. I have slacker characters. They wait for me to do the writing for them. I don't know how they expect to pay their mortgages.
Well, now you are ready to start your thriller. I mean it. My only regret is that I was so intimidated by the process of writing that I waited so long too give it a try. I defeated myself. Well, the purpose of these dopey rules is to show you that there's no dumber way to write a thriller than I do, and even that is okay. In writing, as in life, there really are no right answers. So go for it! Enjoy yourself!
And don't let anybody tell you that you can't do it.
Even -- and especially -- you.On Becoming Hot, Hot, Hot
I bet every woman knows somebody like Anne Murphy, the heroine of Courting Trouble. Anne is hot, hot, hot. She has long, glossy hair and long, moisturized legs. She can wear a knit dress without visible panty lines. She can eat double-thick Oreos and not gain a pound. She can walk in stilettos without falling over. To me, these qualify as superpowers.
These woman do exist. For most of us, they're not in the mirror, but they fill the pages of Cosmo. Think Homecoming Queen. Think Gwyneth Paltrow. Think Cameron Diaz, playing it smart. (I am sure this happens...but I digress.)
Anne Murphy isn't my typical heroine, but for just once in my life -- about 385 pages, to be exact -- I wanted to be the kind of a woman who causes men to crane their necks and crash their Corvettes. I wanted great-looking guys to fight over me. Suck up to me. Do me favors. Light my cigarette. (I don't smoke, but I could start.) And most important, I wanted to understand what it was like to be that kind of woman. Was it as great as it seems?
The only way to find out was to introduce this total babe into the all-woman law firm of Rosato & Associates, where the girls lack superpowers but are a lot of fun -- for lawyers. As Courting Trouble opens, Anne is being pursued by hunky Matt Booker, who has eyelashes too long to be wasted on a man and unfortunately works on the other side of a lawsuit Anne is about to take to trial. Still, she can't help but fantasize about sleeping with the enemy, and who can blame her? She's a redhead, which is a blonde with poor impulse control, and this is America. We have a First Amendment right to fantasize, which is why we love romance novels and Brad Pitt.
To create Anne's character -- since she is so different from me, a mere mortal -- I had to do research, like any careful writer. In the past, for my other suspense novels, my research has included shooting revolvers, hanging with detectives, and squinting at disgusting slides with a medical examiner. But not for Courting Trouble. To flesh out Anne Murphy, my first research mission was to hightail it to Nordstrom's in the King of Prussia mall, where I spent two hours and way too much money on three pairs of totally sexy shoes. "Mules," they're called, which means you pay extra so your heels can fall out the back. One pair is black leather. One pair is butterscotch suede. And one pair is LEOPARD PRINT!!! Oh baby. Oh.
Now, I know this sounds a lot like I just went shopping, but it's really research. Research, I tell you! Because these are the kind of shoes that Anne Murphy and Gywneth and Cameron wear all the time, and so I had to wear them, too. To channel Anne and also to see if I could run in them like she has to. She runs a lot in this book -- away from bad guys, toward good guys. Running, running, running. Lotsa men and lotsa running. Lotsa love. Lotsa romance. A sexy scene on a leather couch. And above all, some really awesome mules.
So you may be wondering -- was being hot, hot, hot, all it's cracked up to be? Of course it was!
And remember, you have First Amendment rights, too. (Lisa Scottoline)