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Courting Trouble    by Lisa Scottoline order for
Courting Trouble
by Lisa Scottoline
Order:  USA  Can
HarperTorch, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Lisa Scottoline's latest mystery Courting Trouble is a perfect escape from the hot summer weather into the fictional world of the all-female Philadelphia law firm Rosato & Associates and the escapades of its lawyers. This ninth book by Scottoline (who seems to just get better and better) is a wonderful read. Trained as a lawyer and always writing about lawyers, Scottoline has been called the 'female John Grisham'. However, in my opinion, this does her a disservice since she has more skill at characterization and does an equal or better job of plotting.

When Scottoline first started mysteries, she wanted to write stand-alone thrillers with different characters in each. However, publishers, knowing readers wanted continuing characters, pushed for a series. So she has compromised by having the Rosato lawyers as continuing characters in all the books, but each one features a different lawyer in the leading role. Her most recent book before this one, The Vendetta Defense starred the independent, cocky, but loveable Judy Carter, while earlier books focussed on the timid but very capable Mary DiNunzio and her wonderful South Philly Italian family, and on Bennie Rosato, the firm's owner and boss.

All of these women play minor roles in Courting Trouble, but its heroine is the stunningly beautiful Anne Murphy who has come to Philadelphia recently with a troubled past. Anne is a newcomer to the Rosato firm and has not yet become one of the gang. When at the start of the book her look-alike catsitter is murdered in her home, Anne goes undercover to catch the killer. Of course, the feisty Rosato women soon become involved in the chase, while also trying to keep Anne's big sexual harassment case from falling apart.

All this happens over a hot 4th of July weekend in Philadelphia filled with tourists celebrating the holiday in the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence. This author excels at pulling the reader right into the setting, and one of the many pleasures of a Scottoline book, especially for someone like me who lives near Philadelphia, is picturing all the mayhem happening in familiar places.

Scottoline is also a master at creating characters, both the memorable Rosato women and more minor characters. Her dialogue comes alive and her people are so real, that I could read about the antics of these women forever. Fast-paced, the books never lag and always come to a satisfying conclusion. All in all, there is nothing not to love about a new Scottoline book, and one only wishes she could write more than one a year.

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