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Limitations Paperback – November 14, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The latest offering from legal thriller master Turow began life as a serial story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine and won't be mistaken, even by devoted fans, for his finest work. As with his previous novels, the action centers on the fictional Kindle County in Illinois, and he revives some familiar characters, including George Mason from Personal Injuries and Rusty Sabich, the hero of his acclaimed fiction debut, Presumed Innocent. Mason is now an appellate judge, faced with the challenge of crafting the decision in a high-profile case involving a sexual assault that reawakens his long-suppressed guilt over his role in a similar incident decades before. To compound his inner turmoil, Mason finds himself the object of threatening e-mails from an unknown source. While Turow's writing is assured as ever, the plot and the legal dilemmas interwoven into it aren't up to his usual high standards, and whodunit fans who loved the brilliant twist that highlighted his debut are likely to be disappointed by the mystery's resolution. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This slim volume appeared in the New York Times as a magazine serial in 2006. Although some new material has been added, it still lacks the heft and depth of a full-fledged Turow novel. Even as a novella, it's top-heavy with legal procedure and courtroom scheduling minutiae that would better fit the scope and pacing of a much longer work. However, even Turow Lite delivers a fairly good read. Former criminal defense attorney George Mason (readers will recognize him, as well as the Kindle County setting, from Personal Injuries, 1999) has been comfortably ensconced for almost a decade as a judge on the Court of Appeals. But a case is resurrected that disturbs him in ways that are both perfectly explicable and unfathomable to him. In 1999, four high-school ice-hockey players, all white, videotaped their gang rape of a drugged 15-year-old black girl at a party. The videotape didn't come to light until 2003; a conviction followed, which is now under appeal. The case is horrific in itself; it becomes more frightening to Mason as long-buried shards from his past start troubling him. Add to this a psychotic who keeps threatening him and the fact that his wife has been diagnosed with cancer, and you have one very fragile judge. An intriguing premise, buried under legal procedure that seems tacked on. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (November 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312426453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312426453
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scott Turow was born in Chicago in 1949. He graduated with high honors from Amherst College in 1970, receiving a fellowship to Stanford University Creative Writing Center which he attended from 1970 to 1972. From 1972 to 1975 Turow taught creative writing at Stanford. In 1975, he entered Harvard Law School, graduating with honors in 1978. From 1978 to 1986, he was an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago, serving as lead prosecutor in several high-visibility federal trials investigating corruption in the Illinois judiciary. In 1995, in a major pro bono legal effort he won a reversal in the murder conviction of a man who had spent 11 years in prison, many of them on death row, for a crime another man confessed to.

Today, he is a partner in the Chicago office of Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal an international law firm, where his practice centers on white-collar criminal litigation and involves representation of individuals and companies in all phases of criminal matters. Turow lives outside Chicago

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Scott Turow's "Limitations" is the story of George Mason, a fifty-nine year old former criminal defense attorney who is now an appellate court judge. The case currently keeping him up at night is "People vs. Jacob Warnovits." Four white men, now in their middle twenties, were convicted of criminal sexual assault for depraved acts that they committed back in high school. The victim was fifteen-year-old Mindy DeBoyer, an African American girl who passed out after a night of heavy drinking at a party; Jacob Warnovits assaulted Mindy while she was unconscious, and he subsequently videotaped his buddies raping her. Warnovits kept the tape and later showed it to his fraternity brothers in college. Someone tipped off the authorities, and the young men were arrested, tried, convicted, and given the mandatory minimum sentence of six years. They remain free on bond pending the results of their appeal.

Judge Mason and his colleagues must decide whether to affirm or reverse the lower court's ruling. Possible arguments for reversal are that the three-year statute of limitations passed before the case came to trial, and that the videotape, which was illegally shot and prejudicial in nature, should not have been admitted into evidence in the first place. Mason is perturbed, not only because the law is unclear, but also because he himself had been guilty of a sexual indiscretion back in college. He fears that his personal history may taint his ability to act impartially.

Mason has other worries, as well. His devoted wife, Patrice, is being treated for thyroid cancer, and an anonymous individual has been sending him a series of threatening messages.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By D. Noble on October 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am new to Turow, having read "Ordinary Heroes" just recently. I liked "Heroes" and was in need of a book for a long flight so I picked up "Limitations." I was really disappointed. I completely agree with the reviewer who commented on the lack of suspense. This was a book with a few loosely pulled together subplots: the threatening emails/text messages, the ailing wife, the current court case and the past incident from college might have worked in a different context, but they didn't really build on one another here. I am usually easy to please, but this book was uninspiring and lackluster.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Thelma C. Johnson on January 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
This novel, right at 200 pages, is short by today's standards. However, Turow has found the right length to tell his story and spared us the padding that one frequently finds in longer works. It is terse, well written, and gives us a deeper perception of the lives of lawyers and judges than we usually get. It deals with guilt, sin, punishment, and justice. Atonement is not discussed, but that is what this is about. The characters are human and real. The legalese and argot of the courts lend an authentic flavor. This is not a book for those who don't like to think.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Darya Elle on May 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
This isn't Turow at his best. At his best he combines vivid characters, literary prose, his knowledge of the legal system AND that all-so-important ability to create an intricate plot to examine larger moral and social issues. Yes, at his best there aren't many better writers of the legal thriller genre.

Now Turow is his own tough act to follow. The central question of this book, which inspires the inspired title, is about responsibility: Is a fifty-eight year old man responsible for the actions of his eighteen year old self? If not, then when did that responsibility expire? And to what extent can any human being to judge another? There has to be some limitations there, too, but how do we draw them?

Good questions, with more raised, but the characters are pleasantly dull and the plot is surprisingly slow, given the incendiary (and distasteful) subject matter: rape. I don't think Turow has ever outdone his debut novel, *Presumed Innocent,* and I can recommend that one without reservation -- even if you saw the movie. (It's really, really good if you haven't.)Get That Novel Written
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Peek VINE VOICE on January 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
Scott Turow burst onto the literary scene 20 years or so ago in a big way with 'Presumed Innocent'. That was a fabulous novel and set a very high standard for him.

Over the years, he has written several very good books. He has lots of talent and creativity.

'Limiations' is not in the class of most of his former work. It is an adequate story that might be considered very good for most authors. Turow, however, is not most authors. He is a top notch writer of legal thrillers. For him, this 'novelette' is just ok.

It features several characters who have been in his previous books including George Mason and Rusty Sabich. They are in way different roles here, but still present. The setting is Turow's normal locale: Kindle County, Illinois.

Perhaps Turow is running out of ideas and thinks that he must rehash characters and the same place forever. That formula does not work in 'Limitations'.

If you are a big Turow fan and think that you must read it, I would recommend waiting for the paperback. This book is alright, but it is certainly not in the league with his previous works.
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