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4.0 out of 5 stars Turow ranks among the greatest "legal thriller" writers!!
For some reason, John Grisham continues to be the hugest name in the "legal thriller" business, when that honor ought to be firmly in the grasp of Scott Turow. His books have more "meat on the bone," dabble in moral ambiguity more instead of having such clearly delineated good guys / bad guys, and are written in a more literate style. Grisham's characters are sketched...
Published on April 27 2003 by RMurray847

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3.0 out of 5 stars Slimy lawyers propelled by unpredictable plot
"Pleading Guilty" is a gritty story of a down-on-his-luck cop-turned-lawyer who is given an almost impossible assignment by his law firm. He has to find a missing law partner who has disappeared with over five million dollars.
Although I didn't necessarily love this book, I have to give the author credit for writing a rather unpredictable plot. This is my...
Published on Sept. 5 2002 by kelly6228


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4.0 out of 5 stars Turow ranks among the greatest "legal thriller" writers!!, April 27 2003
By 
RMurray847 (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
For some reason, John Grisham continues to be the hugest name in the "legal thriller" business, when that honor ought to be firmly in the grasp of Scott Turow. His books have more "meat on the bone," dabble in moral ambiguity more instead of having such clearly delineated good guys / bad guys, and are written in a more literate style. Grisham's characters are sketched in quickly and seldom grow and change. He's like the lawyer's version of Michael Crichton, all plot and no heart.
By shear coincidence, this was really driven home to me when I first read THE PARTNER, by Grisham, which tells the story of a lawyer who steals a huge amount of money from his shady law partners and disappears with it. It's a fun STORY with many amusing touches, but never makes you truly care for the characters. I followed this read immediately with PLEADING GUILTY, which also dealt with some shady attorneys being ripped off big-time by one of their partners.
The main character is Mack Malloy, an ex-cop turned lawyer, who is grappling with raising on his own a VERY troubled teenage boy and is also a recovering alcoholic right on the edge of no longer recovering. He's a smart attorney but not a terribly productive one for his firm, and he's given the job of tracking down his fellow partner who is suspected of raiding a company settlement fund of millions and disappearing. Mack begins to investigate, and he peels of layer after layer of secrets and surprises...off his firm, off their #1 client, off the local police force and even from his friend, the disappeared lawyer.
Told in the first person, the character of Mack is flawed but totally engaging. And when I say "flawed," I don't mean a little. He's a hard guy to like, but his narrative style is so incisive and his sadness so profound, he gets our sympathy. He (meaning author Turow) is also a very astute observer of character and through his eyes, we get to know a lot of very interesting and varied people. This book really had me turning the pages.
My only gripe is the conclusion. The plot gets twisted enough that when Mack finally gets to "reveal all" it takes a good long time to set us straight on what has happened and why. Turow also assumes that we care more than we do about a couple of the more minor characters in the book, and this slows the ending down a bit too. By no means do these minor flaws make this a book not worth reading though...I was sorry to leave Mack behind.
Turow first came to real national attention with his stellar PRESUMED INNOCENT. But I've read several of his subsequent books, and they are all rock solid. Grisham is like a burger, fast and filling but not all that good for you. Turow, to me, is more like nice, slow steak dinner...satisfying and worth lingering over. Give him a try! ...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slimy lawyers propelled by unpredictable plot, Sept. 5 2002
By 
"Pleading Guilty" is a gritty story of a down-on-his-luck cop-turned-lawyer who is given an almost impossible assignment by his law firm. He has to find a missing law partner who has disappeared with over five million dollars.
Although I didn't necessarily love this book, I have to give the author credit for writing a rather unpredictable plot. This is my first time reading a Scott Turow book so I don't know if certain aspects of this book that I didn't particularly care for are standard Turow or specific to the characters populating this novel. I'll have to read one of his other books to get a better idea about that and I probably will read more of his work in the future.
In terms of a legal thriller, Mr. Turow writes rings around John Grisham. The characters all seemed rather seedy and sleazy backstabbers, but then they were mostly lawyers so that's fitting, I suppose. It made it difficult to root for anyone involved, but I still kept reading, just to find out what would happen.
If you like books about sleazy lawyers with lots of interesting plot twists, "Pleading Guilty" is definitely worth reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars complex plot and very real charcters - beats Grisham, Aug. 18 2002
This review is from: Pleading Guilty (Hardcover)
Mack Molloy is a burnt-out civil lawyer who has slaved for much of his life at the dying law firm of G&G. Told entirely from Molloy's POV, the story begins when Molloy is told by the three attorneys of the firm's executive committee that one of its partners - the brash and daring Bert Kamins - has disappeared along with over 5 million dollars of the firm's money. The money was part of an escrow account set up to pay out a settlement in a class action suit brought against G&G's biggest client and stemming from a horrific airliner crash. The fact of the loss, if revealed to the airline/client - without whom, G&G's collapse is assured - requires that somebody locate both Kamins and the money ASAP. With his background as a former cop and his experience as a financial crimes investigator, Molloy seems the best candidate for the job of turning up both attorney and cash. Below the surface (and not that deeply either) Molloy presents a better candidate - he's the firm's least productive attorney: a recovering alcoholic (he did better when he drank); failed father and husband, disgraced ex-cop (Molloy testified against a veteran detective to save his own skin, then poisoned both sides against him when his testimony bungled the prosecution.) and all about middle-aged wreck. In other words, he's the best guy to have around to explain why neither money nor Kamins were ever found.
This was a great Turow book - better than "Burden of Proof" though still not as coherent as "Presumed Innocent". Though its title uses a familiar legal phrase, "Pleading" is less about the law or litigation than about people who happen to be lawyers. As in those other books, Turow is a master of constructing characters who are both very real and have a very convincing capacity to analyze each other. As in the other books, the accent is on the failings of the characters. An intricate plot relies on our own weaknesses: the mystery seems to get bigger and more complicated, though the climax shows that the reverse is true - the mystery gets more simple, and we learn that the various clues point to smaller conspiracies separate from each other. Where the plot bogs down is handling its cast of legal rogues - especially the head lawyers of G&G who occupy different areas of the spectra of respectability, morality and greed. (Turow introduces them as a group, though never makes the transition to treating them as real individuals until Molloy finds he must play them each against each other) There's a beautiful and brilliant attorney named "Brushy" who - though no stranger to Molloy - suddenly surprises him by revealing her infatuation for him. Molloy must also deal with Detective Gino Dimonte, a financial crimes investigator whose career Molloy ruined years earlier - nicknamed "Pigeyes", Dimonte was the detective whom Molloy testified against. Then there's Molloy himself. Though the story's narrator, Molloy springs the biggest surprise on us. We're supposed to think that he'll rise above it all despite his weaknesses (which are profound). Instead, and without giving up too much, he rises above it all because of them. The details of the embezzlement that kicks off the story are pretty complicated (if you read "Burden", think of the wheat futures deal), but that won't keep you from getting into the story or the characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars complex plot and very real charcters - beats Grisham, Aug. 18 2002
This review is from: Pleading Guilty (Hardcover)
Mack Molloy is a burnt-out civil lawyer who has slaved for much of his life at the dying law firm of G&G. Told entirely from Molloy's POV, the story begins when Molloy is told by the three attorneys of the firm's executive committee that one of its partners - the brash and daring Bert Kamins - has disappeared along with over 5 million dollars of the firm's money. The money was part of an escrow account set up to pay out a settlement in a class action suit brought against G&G's biggest client and stemming from a horrific airliner crash. The fact of the loss, if revealed to the airline/client - without whom, G&G's collapse is assured - requires that somebody locate both Kamins and the money ASAP. With his background as a former cop and his experience as a financial crimes investigator, Molloy seems the best candidate for the job of turning up both attorney and cash. Below the surface (and not that deeply either) Molloy presents a better candidate - he's the firm's least productive attorney: a recovering alcoholic (he did better when he drank); failed father and husband, disgraced ex-cop (Molloy testified against a veteran detective to save his own skin, then poisoned both sides against him when his testimony bungled the prosecution.) and all about middle-aged wreck. In other words, he's the best guy to have around to explain why neither money nor Kamins were ever found.
This was a great Turow book - better than "Burden of Proof" though still not as coherent as "Presumed Innocent". Though its title uses a familiar legal phrase, "Pleading" is less about the law or litigation than about people who happen to be lawyers. As in those other books, Turow is a master of constructing characters who are both very real and have a very convincing capacity to analyze each other. As in the other books, the accent is on the failings of the characters. An intricate plot relies on our own weaknesses: the mystery seems to get bigger and more complicated, though the climax shows that the reverse is true - the mystery gets more simple, and we learn that the various clues point to smaller conspiracies separate from each other. Where the plot bogs down is handling its cast of legal rogues - especially the head lawyers of G&G who occupy different areas of the spectra of respectability, morality and greed. (Turow introduces them as a group, though never makes the transition to treating them as real individuals until Molloy finds he must play them each against each other) There's a beautiful and brilliant attorney named "Brushy" who - though no stranger to Molloy - suddenly surprises him by revealing her infatuation for him. Molloy must also deal with Detective Gino Dimonte, a financial crimes investigator whose career Molloy ruined years earlier - nicknamed "Pigeyes", Dimonte was the detective whom Molloy testified against. Then there's Molloy himself. Though the story's narrator, Molloy springs the biggest surprise on us. We're supposed to think that he'll rise above it all despite his weaknesses (which are profound). Instead, and without giving up too much, he rises above it all because of them. The details of the embezzlement that kicks off the story are pretty complicated (if you read "Burden", think of the wheat futures deal), but that won't keep you from getting into the story or the characters.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm..., Feb. 11 2000
By 
PigOB-Gyn "pigob-gyn" (Yutan , Nebraska USA) - See all my reviews
I was in the used bookstore when I found Pleading Guilty. Being a Grisham fan and needing a new source of legal reading I thought I'd give Scott Turow a try after having heard so many good things. After reading this book I'm not sure what all the praise is for.
I thought the story began slow, but it picked up speed to the point where I didn't want to put it down. Unfortunately the main plot gets so confused with a plethora of subplots that the story becomes quite muddled. What appears to be a tale about embezzlement turns into a story about homosexuality, organized crime, police corruption, dirty politics, alcoholism...There are too many twists in the road. The conclusion was a total letdown. I can't imagine anyone being satisfied when they finish the book. I guess I'll give Turow another try since I keep hearing how he is all the rage. The next book better be a big improvement over Pleading Guilty. This wasn't particulary bad, it just wasn't particularly good. The only moral to the story seems to be that people can be a great disappointment. Who doesn't already know that?
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1.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Mess, Feb. 9 1999
I must preface this review with the fact that, while I found Presumed Innocent to be a good legal mystery, I did not feel that it was particularly well-written.
That said, let me give you an example for why I feel that Pleading Guilty is a giant step backwards from whatever literary merit Turow may have held:
The text of the book is a transcrpit of a recording made by one man. This tape had been made with the intention that it would then be listened to by other men. During the course of the book, he gives a physical description of the men who are meant to listen to the tape at a later date. The intent is to inform the reader on their appearance. The result is that it removes the reader entirely from the story. Why would he give a description of the people whom are meant to be listening? Do you call a friend and then give a description of them while you're talking to them? No. It's ridiculous, and any thinking individual will recognize that immediately.
This is not so much Turow's fault as it is the fault of his editors, but in the end it makes little difference. Don't buy Pleading Guilty.
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2.0 out of 5 stars "Top-notch Turow" saved by humor, Feb. 1 2003
By 
Gerburg Frick "narrator of Red Cage, true acc... (Lake Orion, MI United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In this plot the author identifies himself with Malloy, a timid copper turned attorney. While rowing through the pages you find yourself to be lost in a vast ocean with very little intrigue, while the author dabbles in extensive introspection. Every good plot needs a villain. Meet Pigeyes the notorious comrade from the past. When crossing the equator of this bestseller, I was still in the doldrums hoping for a storm but the story continued to splash along with more introspection. There are a few scenes strewn throughout for laughing out loud, for which I gratefully bestow an extra star. While my mind wandered and Malloy was having another drink, I was rowing on 'til the end: "There are only victims." Yes, the ones who think that this book meets the burden of proof to justify its existence. Gerborg
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2.0 out of 5 stars Needed A Stronger Editor, April 10 2002
By 
John G. Hilliard (Toronto Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pleading Guilty (Hardcover)
I thought his first book was just great so I had high hopes for this one. I would say that it is a bit of a let down, not much more then an average work. The pace is great but I think the author needs some help in the overall construction of the story. There is a lot going on, many sub plots - normally that makes for a much more engrossing book, but here it did not work as well. It seemed to me that he had so many plots he could not devote enough time to each one thus detracting from the overall effect of the book. I also thought, although he devoted a good amount of time to them, the characters were not as engrossing as some of his others. Overall the book was ok in the genre, but it seemed like he rushed this one out the door without some much needed detailing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful change of pace for Turow, Aug. 18 2001
By 
hardly_b (Palo Alto, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Mack Malloy is a burned out ex-cop turned lawyer -- he's smart, tough-minded, and pretty much past caring. He's asked by the managing partners at his high-profile firm to investigate something, and as he begins shambling along looking for the truth, his frayed life really begins to unravel.
This book is wonderfully perceptive -- it's really a portrait of a very able man defeated by his life who retreats into alcohol and (apt) wry observations and wisecracks, but who still has a few tricks up his sleeve. The book is hilariously funny, a satire of the earnest "redemption stories" (wherein the hero wins one last big case to turn his life around). It's dark, funny, and a delight to read. I think that this is Turow's best book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Story + Mediocre Characters = Pretty Good Book, Dec 24 2001
By 
This is the third Turow novel I've read and it was the third he wrote. It also ranks third in quality of the three I've read. It's not a bad book at all, and it is well worth reading. It just lacks the higher quality of characters I found in the other two novels, Presumed Innocent and Burden of Proof. The story has plenty of Turow style surprises and is quite interesting. To me, the thing that pulled the book down was the character development. I just didn't find Mack or Brushy to be interesting or well developed. Toots was the most interesting character and he was a bit player in the story. So, overall I'd say read it, but if you only have time to read one or two, I'd pick his earlier novels.
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Pleading Guilty
Pleading Guilty by Scott Turow (Audio CD - June 1 2010)
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