THE LAW CAN’T PROTECT HER–
Young attorney Abby Coleridge opens her home to a troubled law student after a fire destroys the woman’s apartment. When the student disappears, leaving behind a blood-splattered note and a stash of cryptic flash-drives, Abby sets out to find her. Soon, a murderous arsonist threatens them both.
Law student Victor Rutledge, a former Navy officer, knows more than he’s telling. So much so that his offers to help Abby seem suspicious. When police reveal his scandalous past, Abby doesn’t know who to trust.
Trouble, the black cat detective, lands in Tallahassee, Florida in the nick of time. Can he sniff out the salient clues and push Abby and Victor in the right direction and into each other’s arms? Can he save them—and himself—from a fiery end?
I am loving this multi-author series featuring Trouble the Cat. Trouble fancies himself a detective, and has a penchant for all things British.
In this tale, Trouble has found himself snatched from his owner Tammy Lynn and taken to Tallahassee. There he escapes his captor and attaches himself to a lawyer and a law student. Of course he also ends up in the middle of some excitement and mystery as well.
Abby invited Layla to stay with her after a fire in her apartment necessitated renovations. Now these two aren’t close friends they are co-workers in the firm Abby has joined. Layla is a third year law student and on track to become the only associate added to this firm upon passing her bar exam. As such she has been diligently working on her final paper as well as her other duties.
Victor is also a law student and he is struggling with his latest assignment. He needs some help from Layla but she is still angry with him over something he stuck his nose into.
This is a favorite scene as he approaches to apologize.
Victor eased into Abby’s house, keenly aware no one had invited him inside and no one seemed to want him there except maybe the cat. But Layla had been attacked and he wanted to be sure she was all right. And maybe he’d like to try to make a better impression on the redhead.
As he pushed an irritating lock of his shaggy hair out of his face, he gazed around the house. Might as well take a good look since no one was talking to him. The redhead and Layla had marched into the kitchen, where they were busy warming up some left-over baked cod for the cat.
Neat, clean, and well-organized. That was his initial impression of the house, though as he walked further into the living room, he reassessed. It was like a jungle. Potted plants everywhere, some on the floor, some on stands, some hanging from brackets on the wall. Interesting groupings of flowering scrubs and tropical-looking things in one corner with what he assumed was a grow light pointed at them. Then he saw the aquarium.
“Wow.” Victor said it aloud, though no one was listening. The aquarium was twenty-five gallons and filled with brightly colored neon tetras, dashing about in their seemingly frantic way, well balanced by a few calm black mollies. The water was sparkling, and a high-tech pump hummed on the side. Snails, aquatic plants, a couple of bottom feeding catfish—a perfectly balanced and healthy aquarium. He should know. He had one too. Only smaller. After all those years in the Navy, where a potted Christmas cactus was about all he could handle as he moved about, he’d been hungry for a tank of fish, a cat, and a dog. So far, he had an aquarium.
The redhead came out of the kitchen and gave him a curious look.
“I’m sorry I barged in, but I want to be sure Layla is really okay.” He brushed his hair back again and admired her shiny red mane. Thick, shoulder-length, kind of a chestnutty red. “I’m Victor,” he added, though he’d already said that.
“Abby,” she said.
“I love the fish. I’ve got a tank too. Someday I’d like to try a saltwater aquarium.” “Oh, me too. I’ve been studying about it for years.” Abby’s voice lifted and there was no mistaking her sudden enthusiasm. “I want sea horses. Did you know the male raises the young and—”
“Okay, so you two are bonding over fish. Trouble the cat is gorging on fish, and I’m ready to take a shower and go count fish to see if I can sleep.” Layla stood in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room, casting her gaze back and forth between Victor, Abby, and the aquarium.
Victor refrained from mentioning one counted sheep to encourage sleep. If Layla wanted to count fish, or toads, or whatever, that was fine with him.
“Layla,” Victor said, his voice soft and mellow. “I’ve—”
The cat sauntered out of the kitchen, licking his mouth, and let out a plaintive meow. They all stared at him. He scampered to the door and scratched on it.
“Litter box,” Abby said. “I don’t have one.”
“Let him outside,” Layla said.
“What if he runs away?” Abby knelt and petted the cat.
Victor glanced at the clock on Abby’s mantel. After nine, but the Publix on Thomasville Road would still be open. “Give me half an hour, I’ll be back with a litter box.”
Nobody objected and he hurried to his car. As he drove to the store, he thought about Abby. What a lovely young woman. He couldn’t help but be attracted to her slim, petite figure and her big eyes. But besides being cute, she obviously had a green thumb and a nurturing spirit. And taking in both a stray cat and a temporarily homeless Layla—that told Victor that Abby was generous and kind-hearted.
Even so, he might as well forget her. He was so damn busy studying and trying to stay afloat in law school, there was no way he had time to date. Besides, his forced resignation from the Navy was sure to come up. He didn’t want to face accusations and rejection, especially from a woman who seemed so fundamentally decent and sweet.
As he hurried into the store, thoughts of Abby drifted to his concern for Layla. Her kitchen caught fire—even though she wasn’t home at the time and the landlord had the fire out before too much damage. She was mugged—though it appeared to be a random act and nothing personal.
Was it just a run of bad luck? Or was there more to it?
Maybe she was mixed up in something worse than he’d first suspected.
Or maybe she really had left a greasy skillet on a hot stove like the fire inspector claimed. Maybe it was just coincidence a homeless person grabbed her backpack at the law firm.
But as he picked up a large bag of cat litter and a litter pan, he couldn’t shake the growing unease he felt.
Claire Matturro. Trouble in Tallahassee (Kindle Locations 338-376). KaliOka Press. Kindle Edition.
Lots of suspense, and it just builds when Layla is snatched while she and Abby are working in the basement of the Law Library with old cases.
Trouble of course has his nose everywhere and trying to get the humans to understand him can sometimes be difficult. Although he does somehow manage in the most clever ways.
Totally enthralling, with twists and turns abounding. I can’t wait to read more of this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Claire!
Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!
Claire Hamner Matturro, a former lawyer and college teacher, is the author of four legal mysteries with a sense of humor. Her books are: Skinny-Dipping (2004) (a BookSense pick, Romantic Times’Best First Mystery, and nominated for a Barry Award); Wildcat Wine (2005) (nominated for a Georgia Writer of the Year Award); Bone Valley(2006) and Sweetheart Deal (2007) (winner of Romantic Times’ Toby Bromberg Award for Most Humorous Mystery), all published by William Morrow.
Her newest book, Trouble in Tallahassee , was published this September by KaliOka Press. And look for an exciting announcement regarding Wayward Girls, her joint-writing adventure with Penny Koepsel.
Claire remains active in writers’ groups, teaches creative writing in adult education, and write reviews for Southern Literary Review.