Top positive review
Turow ranks among the greatest "legal thriller" writers!!
on April 27, 2003
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! ...