This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Claire Matturro. She is the award-winning author of 6 legal thrillers, the latest of which, Privilege, was released in May. Matturro was our featured writer on March 20, 2011.
Privilege, my newest novel, is a is a dark, gritty, sexy tale of a corrupted law firm, a beautiful, but jaded attorney whose shadowy past snares her in a brutal marriage, a violent ex-con stalker seeking his own cross-eyed justice, a lawyer murdered in his bedroom, and an honorable cop caught in the cross-fire.
Like my prior five books, Privilege is legal thriller set in Florida. There’s a reason my books are inspired by the beauty and insanity of Florida and all deal with lawyers and the law. I am—or I was—a lawyer who practiced law in Florida and I’ve lived a good portion of my life in the fabulous State of Florida and live here now.
Yet, Privilege marks a drastic change for me as my first four novels (Skinny-dipping, Wildcat Wine, Bone Valley, Sweetheart Deal (William Morrow)) were all light-hearted, humorous legal thriller cozies, with a chick lit gloss. My fifth (Trouble in Tallahassee) was a romantic suspense/legal thriller cozy. But now, Privilege veers dramatically off in a different direction, definitely aimed at the dark side, pulling into the plot techniques from noir, thriller, and police procedural novels. Hence, I am calling Privilege a legal thriller noir. I didn’t invent the term or the concept, but I do confess a google search of the phrase doesn’t bring up nearly as many hits as it might.
We all know what a legal thriller is—John Grisham and Lisa Scottoline have made sure of that these last decades with their best-selling legal thrillers. And a noir book is one that harkens back to the hard-boiled detective books of Micky Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler. These are usually sexy, gritty tales involving crime, cynical detectives, women with shady pasts and a femme fatale quality about them, with plenty of fatalism, all tossed with moral ambiguity and usually painted with an erotic gloss. So, a legal thriller noir simply combines a legal thriller with that gritty, steamy noir quality, all infused with moral ambiguity. In other words, a legal thriller noir is a perfect type of book for our times.
In the movie world, the classic 1981 film “Body Heat,” with a very young Kathleen Turner and William Hurt, is an excellent example of a legal thriller noir. It involves a sultry woman with a dark, mysterious past who manipulates a hapless, sex-addled attorney into murdering her husband. There is a gritty and erotic quality to the film, and the plot depends upon lawyers and a legal technicality. And, like Privilege, “Body Heat” was set in steamy, beautiful Florida.
Mind you, I am not comparing Privilege with Body Heat in a direct fashion as the plots differ greatly, but I’m using the movie as an example of what a legal thriller noir is at its finest.
Why I changed from writing cozies, with their amateur women lawyer sleuths and their funny hijinks, to a darker legal thriller is complex, and maybe influenced by the more cynical times we currently live in. Or, perhaps just as simply, I wanted to try my hand at something different. Why not a noir? After all, I was the kid who read Micky Spillane, John McDonald, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler when my teenage girlfriends were sneaking their mother’s Jackie Collins novels out of hiding to read.
One thing that won’t change in my novels, though, is my love of Florida and how the State and its environs are and will remain part and partial of the story.
For more information:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Claire-Hamner-Matturro/e/B001HD09K0