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The Laws of Our Fathers Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1997

3.0 out of 5 stars 156 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

At the close of legal-thriller novelist Scott Turow's second book, The Burden of Proof, Sonia Klonsky was a young prosecutor in Kindle County Courthouse with a failing marriage, an infant daughter, and a single mastectomy. Now, as the narrator of Turow's latest novel, she's a Superior Court Judge presiding over the murder trial of one Nile Eddgar, accused of arranging the slaying of his ghetto-activist mother, June. Turow attempts a sort of social history of the 60s in this ambitious mystery, but the most vivid passages come when the gangbangers of the Black Saints Disciples take center stage. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Turow once again proves that there is more substance in a single page of one of his novels than in the entire works of John Grisham or any other author in the legal thriller genre. In this latest, the mother of a probation officer is shot near a gang-infested housing project, provoking charges that her son orchestrated the killing. The ensuing trial reunites a group of affluent Sixties activists who knew each other in their student days. The courtroom scenes are energetic and intelligent, and Turow never resorts to playing good guys vs. bad guys. Nor does he subject his characters to tearful, revelatory testimony while on the stand. His dialog is snappy and believable?aside from some awkwardly rendered sections featuring the leader of an urban street gang?and his insight into his characters' petty motivations and misplaced love is dead on. All public libraries should have a copy of this fine novel.?Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446604402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446604406
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,269,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is a great 600 page thriller hiding inside the 800 pages of The Laws of Our Fathers. Specifically, I'd suggest losing the last 100 pages and most of the first 100. The central account of the trial is powerful and gripping, and the flashbacks to the sixties are well done as well. The characters, as is usual with Turow, are deep and interesting. But there are LONG detours into what I found to be excessive tangential and background material. This happens on and off throughout, but most of this is concentrated into the last 100 pages of the book, by which time you've already had the climax wrap-up of not one but -both- main plot lines, and you're thinking "and now why do I have to go through ANOTHER 100 pages?" No good reason presents itself (from a thriller reader's point of view) just a lot of wallowing around in characters' minds. I have no argument with those who say Turow (or probably more accurately, this book) "isn't for everyone", or that the book has touches of "literature" as opposed to simply mystery/thriller (One of the editorial review clips called Turow the "thinking man's John Grisham" which gave me a chuckle). But first of all I'd take exception with the view that the "literary" elements were exceptionally well executed, because they do have a tendency to bring an otherwise gripping plot to a grinding halt. And secondly I think it's fair to warn readers looking for a mystery/thriller (even a deep complex one) that it will take 100 pages or so before you start getting what you paid for. I enjoyed this book, but you should go into it with eyes open.
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Format: Hardcover
Yes, this book is complicated and long. But for those with a keen literary eye, it delivers. I've been so disappointed with recent John Grisham novels that I found the weightiness and substantive content of this Turow novel very satisfying.

I would agree with those who say that this book transcends the genre. This is no mere courtroom drama or legal thriller. It's really several novels in one; the flashback sequences to the 60s could even stand on their own. As a post-60s Gen Xer, I was intrigued with the seemingly eyewitness account of what life was really like back then.

It is possibly true that this book may be a bit long. Yet I was so impressed with Turow's narrative voice and the authenticity of such a diverse cast of characters that it held my interest. A good deal of thought and research went into this one, and it really warrants a more thoughtful read than your average formulaic legal drama. Two thumbs up.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The laws of our fathers" is at times a very challenging book to read, as the point of view shifts both back and forth in time, but also from the perspective of the two main characters; Seth and Sonny. This completely unorthodox method of storytelling does indeed take the reader by surprise, however, once the the reader has gotten use to it, one can start to enjoy the books brilliance.
The paths of former couple, Seth and Sonny, cross during the trial of the murder of a senators wife. The defendant: Nile Eddgar, the son of the senator and the murdered wife. Sonny is the presiding judge, while Seth is a journalist covering the trail.
Turow somehow manages to tell us the story of Seth and Sonny as a couple back in the late sixtees and early seventees, their professional relationship twentyfive years later and the thrilling trail of who killed, and why, the wife of senator Loyell Eddgar.
"The laws of our fathers" provide no good-looking superheros who save the day and ride into the sundown, thank God, but portrays ordinary people with believable thoughts and problems who struggle to make sense the world they live in - the same world we all sometimes find hard to understand.
Highly recomended by yours truely.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reading this book was like pulling teeth. What I love about Turow is the character development he brings to his books, tightly woven with tight, sharp legal thrills. Grisham's best is a comic book next to Turow's worst. Quite simply, Turow treats his readers like adults, while Grisham treats his like ignorant children.
BUT: In "The Laws of Our Fathers" Turow has gotten carried away. I can only surmise that he awoke one day and decided to write the Great American Legal Novel, as Laws of Our Fathers reads like a combination of Hermann Melville and Saul Bellow. The issues covered -- race and war in the 1960s; religion, separation, parenting, and isolation in the 1990s, are all sigificant and all worthy of a novel. What they are not worthy of is being combined into a single "mass market" novel. The plot simply collapses beneath the weight of the Important Social Matters about which Turow writes.
As I say, Turow writes for the thinking person and one expects to be challenged when one buys his work. But in Laws of Our Father the endless pages of 75-line paragraphs made me time and time again put the book aside. There needs to be a periodic tease that makes the reader want to continue, and in Laws of Our Fathers they were too far apart by scores of pages.
Fortunately Turow returns to form in Reversible Errors, so one can hope that Laws of Our Fathers is an anomaly.
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