LIMITATIONS
Scott Turow

 


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Pan Macmillan: This edition published: December 2006
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

Life has been good to George Mason. After a successful career as a defense lawyer, he is now a sitting judge on the Court of Appeals in Kindle County. He is happily married to his wife of nearly forty years and he has no financial concerns. Then his wife is diagnosed with cancer and has to undergo radiation treatment. She is just recovering from that when George is asked to preside on an appeal in a rape case which re-ignites some memories from his college days.

As these memories begin to haunt him and cause him to question both himself and his fitness to be a judge, George starts receiving threatening emails. Are they related to the current case or some other judgement he has handed down?
Perhaps itís a disgruntled former client deciding to have revenge for a long-forgotten lost case. Then there is the car-jacking in which George not only loses his vehicle and his wallet but also suffers a broken arm. Is that an unconnected event or is that tied up with a judgement he handed down against a Latino gang leader?

LIMITATIONS is promoted as a ďlegal thrillerĒ. I think thatís slightly misleading. While much of the substance of the book is about the law, justice and morality of the law, I donít think it could be classified as a thriller. That implies there are chase scenes and gunfights and there arenít.

Much of LIMITATIONS is written in the present tense. The parts of it that deal with legal details do seem a little dry at times, but the substance of the book is about human nature. The title, LIMITATIONS, not only refers to limitations laid down by law but also the limitations of human nature. How even the best intentioned of people can inadvertently hurt others: hurt by lies of omission, thinking to spare the other. Hurt by carelessly only considering oneís own perspective and not how something will impact on someone else.

Initially I found LIMITATIONS to be rather dry with very little excitement. However, after finishing it, I found myself surprised at how much I had enjoyed author Scott Turowís examination of the capacities of human nature.

At just 197 pages LIMITATIONS isnít exactly a weighty tome. Itís a quick read and the identity of the person sending the threats came as a surprise for me. If there is any criticism of the plot, itís that in this world where we expect endings where there is either action or someone pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the resolution is ever-so-slightly anti-climactic, but in some ways that is in keeping with the overall tone of the book.

Dec 2006 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem

 

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