Scott Turow is no John Grisham, and that’s good, because one Grisham is enough.
The two writers sometimes get lumped together because both had major bestsellers with thrillers about court, and suddenly, surprisingly, they made stories about lawyers exciting and fascinating. Definitely not an easy task.
But while Grisham has continued cranking out fluffy thrillers on an almost annual basis, Turow has elected to take his time and focus more on depth and detail, rather than on seeing how many books he can put out in a decade.
And it has shown.
Compare Turow’s book, The Laws of Our Fathers, to just about any of Grisham’s books. In Laws, Turow manages a simultaneous look at a thorny legal entanglement in the ’90s with ties back to the radical days of the ’60s. A far cry from Grisham’s The Firm or The Pelican Brief.
Or look at Turow’s new book, Personal Injuries. While it doesn’t have the breadth or the flashbacks of Laws, it makes up for that with interesting characters and surprising twists.
As the book begins, lawyer Robbie Feaver has been busted by the Feds for paying off judges so he can win cases. But rather than send him to jail the government decides to use him to try to take down the corrupt judges. An FBI agent using the name Evon Miller has been assigned to watch him as the stings go down. Details about Evon, her real name, her real history, aren’t forthcoming early on, either to the reader or to Feaver, which makes her more intriguing.
At first blush Feaver is just another bad lawyer, interested only in making money and not about helping his clients. He’ll cry to get a client to hire him, for example. He’s also a pig when it comes to women.
But over time Feaver grows on you and the reader and Miller—who can’t stand him initially—begins to see that he’s not such a bad guy so much as an idealist caught in a bad situation. He is doing good for his clients, as the ends may indeed be justifying the means.
Full of surprises and a darn good yarn, Personal Injuries is a fun read. Check it out. But if you want something more substantive, go back and read Laws instead.
And if you do feel the need to read Grisham, check out The Last Juror or the Runaway Jury, instead of some of his breezier, fluffier books.