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Scott Turow

A-LimitationsThis novel was originally published in serialized form in New York Times Magazine. George Mason, who appeared in Personal Injuries (1999), is facing another personal and professional crisis. A former criminal defense attorney and now an appellate judge in Kindle County, Illinois, Mason must cast the deciding vote on a grisly case: whether to overturn the conviction of four men who, as youths, raped a teenage girl. While the statute of limitations has expired, the evidence—a videotape of the perpetrators’ gang rape—is irrefutable. The case evokes buried feelings of guilt over Mason’s own behavior while in college, and his wife’s cancer and threatening e-mails only complicate matters.
Picador. 208 pages. $13. ISBN: 0312426453

Chicago Sun-Times 4 of 5 Stars
"I found this leanness attractive and effective and the best thing that’s happened to Turow as a writer and as a storyteller. This story doesn’t waste time and yet characters seem full and round and human; the leanness also permits the novel’s connections to work as a skeleton to which he attaches muscle and gristle—discarding any fat." Randy Michael Signor

Chicago Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"It’s a quieter book than some of Turow’s previous best-selling intelligent legal thrillers, any one of which makes a John Grisham novel seem like mighty thin gruel. But it remains an engrossing work of fiction." Alan Cheuse

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Turow, who still practices law, knows how smart lawyers think, and Limitations, like his previous seven novels, is a primer on the legal mind at work. … Things proceed quite briskly until [the end], however, and the moral questions that Turow posits are mercifully not resolved as neatly." Marc Weingarten

Palm Beach Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Turow’s formula is a good one. He tells you enough of the backstory of his lawyers, judges and other legal types so you care what happens to them as fate and the felonious-at-heart plot against them." Paul Lomartire

San Antonio Exp-News 4 of 5 Stars
"In the appearance vs. reality world of mystery/suspense novels, readers easily will spot the ‘who’ midway through Scott Turow’s new novel, Limitations. What will stun readers at the end is the ‘why.’" David Hendricks

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 4 of 5 Stars
"For once, the judicious Judge Mason must muck about in the ugliness of life (including the memory of his own sexual misadventure as a collegian) instead of passing judgment on it from above. But that makes this terse and well-written book sound abstract and preachy, and it’s neither." Harry Levins

Critical Summary

Limitations offers an inside view of Kindle County’s Court of Appeals while posing a moral and professional dilemma in its central character. Critics agree that best-selling novelist Scott Turow is at the top of his form here. Most commented on the novel’s leanness, which surprised them since it did nothing to detract from the suspenseful plot and three-dimensional characters (many from Turow’s previous legal thrillers). The only point of disagreement centered on the concluding chapter—but readers will be hard pressed to find a better inquiry into the limits of law, love, memory, and human behavior.