Skinny-Dippingby Claire Matturro
Lilly Cleary is an attorney for a prestigious Sarasota law firm. But her killer cross-examination technique and take-no-prisoners courtroom attitude haven't stopped the senior partners from dumping one stink bomb after another on her desk—like the kayak-whiplash case she's currently saddled with. And problems at home, specifically with her ex–boyfriend,
Lilly Cleary is an attorney for a prestigious Sarasota law firm. But her killer cross-examination technique and take-no-prisoners courtroom attitude haven't stopped the senior partners from dumping one stink bomb after another on her desk—like the kayak-whiplash case she's currently saddled with. And problems at home, specifically with her ex–boyfriend, aren't making her disposition any sunnier.
But it isn't until she's mugged outside her office that her troubles really begin. And when someone puts a bullet hole in her favorite suit, Lilly realizes things are getting a bit too personal. Perhaps it has something to do with a malpractice lawsuit she's inherited, and her recently and suspiciously deceased doctor client. Lilly's not going to take the insult lying down—even if tracking a killer leads her into dangerously deep water.
Quirky humor and legal drama make a convincing argument for suspense-filled fun in Skinny-Dipping. It’s bad enough to have to live with a name like Lillian Belle Rosemary Cleary. When you’re a lawyer who defends well-heeled physicians in malpractice cases, and your attitude toward germs borders on the pathological, it’s natural to expect that life will go from bad to worse. And so it does for Lilly. On her way back to the office after winning a case, she gets mugged. Then the senior partner in her firm dumps another case in her lap, right after the medical expert he’d lined up decides to testify for the other side. As she's trying to line up another witness, her own doctor turns up dead, and somebody pumps her car full of lead while she's driving it. As Lilly evaluates the evidence that’s mounting up in both her personal and professional trials, the suspense ratchets up, until she reaches a surprising verdict.
Author Claire Matturro, a former appellate attorney, has let her formidable imagination run riot here, and mystery readers are in for a wild, hilarious ride. Sue Stone
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Read an Excerpt
I, Lilly Rose Cleary, have a nearly endless capacity for driving myself crazy.
That's why I ended up in law school, that and a serious lack of any readily discernible talents, despite my being smart and tall for a girl.
That's why I was sitting behind a long wooden table in a courtroom, defending this guy, this person, my client, in a civil lawsuit accusing him of causing this woman, this plaintiff now testifying, to suffer the terrible pain and disability of whiplash.
From being rear-ended in a kayak. In a mangrove channel off the Intracoastal. On a church outing.
Kayak whiplash invited ridicule. Naturally, I obliged. But after an early deposition round of humiliating the plaintiff, economics brayed and I had offered her twenty thousand dollars, the nuisance value of such a case, to stop being stupid and shut up and settle. But no, she had insisted on her constitutional right to a jury trial, meaning I, the defense attorney, would get the twenty thousand and more for convincing the jury to give her nothing.
In my efforts to persuade the jury to give her precisely that nothing, I was trapped behind this courtroom table while this woman's attorney, Newton "Newly" Moneta, questioned her on direct, trying to nail down her husband's loss of consortium claim. This plaintiff, this woman who couldn't even kayak right, was expounding on why she couldn't have sex with her husband because her neck and shoulders and back and entire torso were a constant spasm of pain because my guy, the defendant, had come around a bend in the mangroves and rear-ended her as she sat, stopped dead, in her kayak.
Listening to this plaintiff pontificate on her lack of a sex life, I thought my head would explode. My legs jiggled under the table, I shifted and sighed, slumped and straightened, and my fingers tapped on the desk until my client frowned at me. So, okay, spank me, I'm not good at sitting still.
Newly took a step back and nodded at me, and it was my turn.
But the plaintiff, thinking, I guess, that the jury might have missed her point, hung her head and said in a little-girl voice, "I mean, I can't even, you know, do him with my hands, because my arm and shoulders hurt so."
Newly whipped around toward her and said, "Thank you," and told "your honor" he was done.
I stood up. Didn't even bother to walk around from behind the table.
"You can't" -- I stopped and glanced down to show my own reluctance to pursue this inquiry -- "manually stimulate him with your hand?"
She looked wary but nodded.
"Anything wrong with your mouth?" I asked.
Newly objected before he even got back to his table.
The plaintiff jerked her head up, glared at me as if this were all my fault, and said, "I don't have to answer that."
In case the judge had missed it the first time, Newly repeated, "I object, your honor."
Not waiting for the judge to respond, which is bad lawyer etiquette, I said, "Your honor, he opened the door on direct." Lawyer talk for "You started it."
Newly said, "Outside the scope of direct." Lawyer talk for "Did not."
The judge said, "Overruled" and turned to the plaintiff and said, "Yes, you do have to answer that." Judge talk for "I'm the boss."
The plaintiff gave it her best shot at being offended and offered such a nonanswer answer that I said, "I withdraw the question, your honor. No further questions." Lawyer talk for "Never mind, the jury gets my point."
Newly closed the plaintiff's case with a medical whore, who swore a person could actually suffer such a thing as whiplash from a rear-ended kayak. After Newly officially rested his case, I made the standard motion and asked the judge to rule immediately in favor of my guy and deprive the jury of both hearing my defense and reaching its own verdict. To my detailed argument, Judge Goddard responded, "Go to lunch but don't take long." Taking that for a denial of my motion, I gathered up my client as the judge added, "I want this case over with today." We'd been at it for two days before this morning's testimony, and Judge Goddard had apparently had a bellyful.
With Judge Goddard's infamous impatience in mind, I scarfed a banana and a bowl of organic mixed greens with a maple syrup vinaigrette dressing from the Granary, the local health food store, while my client, a guy named Elvis who drove a tow truck and who had the rare good luck of having a personal liability insurance policy that was covering my fees and his lunch, picked at a tofu sandwich and asked, "What is this stuff?"
"It's like tuna," I said, figuring soybean curd was beyond the tolerance of his Florida cracker upbringing.
After lunch, I put Elvis on the stand to show the jury that he was a nice, basic guy and then put on our main medical guy. This medical witness was costing my client, or, to be technically correct, the client's liability insurance company, a small fortune, but the doc was great. Soft voice, big medical words explained to a grade-school level without condescension, gray hair, and taupe-colored wire-frame glasses that brought out his blue eyes. Came across like Marcus Welby, M.D. Privately, he'd told me the plaintiff was as healthy as an ox, big as one, and about as dumb, and, by the way, he "really knew how to grill a great steak" if I would like to have dinner with him at his beachfront house. Yeah, sure, dead cow burnt over charcoal to maximize the carcinogenic impact. I said I'd keep his offer in mind for the calm after the trial and suggested that he convey to the jury that the plaintiff was a big, stupid girl making this up. Bless his heart, the doc did just that ...Skinny-dipping. Copyright © by Claire Matturro. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
A former appellate attorney and former member of the writing faculty at Florida State University College of Law and the University of Oregon School of Law, Claire Hamner Matturro lives in Georgia.
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This was an amazing book.... one of the best i have ever read. you HAVE to read it...
Lillian Cleary is an attorney for a prestigious law firm in Sarasota. No matter how over worked she is, Lilly gives each case her all. She wins MUCH more often than she loses. She is well known for her in-depth investigations of each case and her killer cross-examination technique in the courtroom. ............................................. The senior partners are notorious for dropping ridiculous cases on her desk, as well as, for giving her cases that THEY cannot win. One of these cases is a malpractice lawsuit. Lilly soon finds herself with a bulls eye on her back and a suspiciously deceased doctor client. Finding an expert witness is no easy task either apparently. .................................................................... ...................... *** A good legal mystery, but at times the humor falls flat. I found Lilly Cleary to be a fast thinking, very intelligent lady that often gets through problems by sheer luck or good timing. She is definitely a character that I would like to read more about in the future! ***