Pleading Guilty

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In Pleading Guilty, Scott Turow takes us back to Kindle County, the setting of his previous bestsellers and now one of the most renowned and fascinating locales in contemporary American fiction.

As the novel opens, we learn that the star litigator at one of Kindle County's top law firms is missing. Also missing is $5.6 million from a fund established to settle a massive air disaster class action suit against Transitional Airlines, the firm's ...

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In Pleading Guilty, Scott Turow takes us back to Kindle County, the setting of his previous bestsellers and now one of the most renowned and fascinating locales in contemporary American fiction.

As the novel opens, we learn that the star litigator at one of Kindle County's top law firms is missing. Also missing is $5.6 million from a fund established to settle a massive air disaster class action suit against Transitional Airlines, the firm's biggest client.

It becomes the assignment of "Mack" Malloy, ex-cop, almost ex-drunk and partner-on-the-wane to find both the missing partner and the money. Immediately.

Mack's search takes us into the inner sanctums of corporate law and into the dark heart of the city itself. As Mack pursues the truth, his own past pursues him, forcing him to confront his own ineradicable weakness and long-hidden secrets.

Lovable, unreliable, a master sleuth, and an inimitable guide to an ominous and enthralling world, Mack Molloy may well be Scott Turow's supreme fictional creation to date--and Pleading Guilty may be judged his most accomplished novel yet.

The author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Presumed Innocent and The Burden of Proof delivers another stellar bestseller. An ex-cop partner at a high-powered law firm tracks the firm's star litigator, who has disappeared with $5 million of a client's money. Don't miss Turow's bestselling backlist titles listed below.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Murder, embezzlement, bookmaking, offshore banking, and the politics of a high-powered law firm supply varying shades of corruption as Turow Presumed Innocent ; The Burden of Proof returns to Kindle County in this wise, surefooted legal thriller. World-weary attorney Mack Malloy, 50-ish ex-cop and recovering alcoholic, is the protagonist and narrator. Despite humiliating annual pay cuts, Mack plods on at Gage & Griswell, nearing the end of his usefulness. When another partner in the firm disappears, along with several million dollars, Mack is assigned the difficult and potentially dangerous job of discreetly discovering his whereabouts. During a one-month time span, Mack dictates his account onto six tapes corresponding to the book's chapters. It is an engaging, street-wise narrative full of plain talk and homespun philosophy, as well as a candid account of the behind-the-scenes workings of a powerful law firm. Though every element of the novel is polished and professional, the charisma of Mack's narration is its triumph. Add that to a taut, twist-filled plot, expert pacing, colorful and well-rendered supporting characters, and an appealing whiff of larceny, and Turow surpasses Grisham hands down. 875,000 first printing; Franklin Library First Edition; BOMC and QPB main selection; paperback to Warner; author tour. June
From Barnes & Noble
Mack Malloy, ex-cop-turned-attorney at a prestigious law firm in Kindle County, is sent to retrieve their star litigator & $5.6 million which have both gone missing at the same time. The road leads to his former police partner & nemesis--and a cold corpse.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594451242
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/28/1994
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Turow is a writer and attorney. He is the author of seven best-selling novels: Presumed Innocent (1987), The Burden of Proof (1990), Pleading Guilty (1993), The Laws of Our Fathers (1996), Personal Injuries (1999), Reversible Errors (2002) and Ordinary Heroes (2005). A novella, Limitations, was published as a paperback original in November 2006 by Picador following its serialization in The New York Times Magazine. His works of non-fiction include One L (1977) about his experience as a law student, and Ultimate Punishment (2003), a reflection on the death penalty. He frequently contributes essays and op-ed pieces to publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Playboy and The Atlantic. Mr. Turow's books have won a number of literary awards, including the Heartland Prize in 2003 for Reversible Errors and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 2004 for Ultimate Punishment and Time Magazine's Best Work of Fiction, 1999 for Personal Injuries. His books have been translated into more than 25 languages, sold more than 25 million copies world-wide and have been adapted into one full length film and two television miniseries.


In addition to writing cinematic legal thrillers like Presumed Innocent (1987), Reversible Errors (2002), and Limitations (2006), lawyer Scott Turow has also drawn upon his personal and professional experience for thought-provoking nonfiction that includes One L (1977), an account of his freshman year at Harvard Law, and Ultimate Punishment (2003), a reflection on capital punishment. His essays and op-ed pieces have appeared in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and other distinguished publications. In 2005, he forayed into historical fiction with Ordinary Heroes, an emotionally resonant novel inspired by his father's experiences in World War II. A practicing attorney with experience in both civil and criminal law, Turow has become involved in extensive pro bono work on death penalty cases.

Good To Know

Turow rarely writes his novels in a linear fashion from beginning to end. Instead, he sketches out individual scenes and then figures out where they fit into the grand scheme of a story.

Turow may be a bestselling author who has sold roughly 25 million books worldwide, but this crusading attorney has yet to give up his day job!

Don't let that "F" on your report card deter you from a writing career; just look at Turow, who flunked freshman English in high school, but whose shelves are currently lined with literary awards.

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    1. Hometown:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 12, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Amherst College, 1970; M.A., Stanford University, 1974; J.D., Harvard University, 1978
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Pleading Guilty

By Scott Turow

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Copyright © 1993 Scott Turow
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-374-23457-4

Chapter One

Monday, January 23


The Management Oversight Committee of our firm, known among the partnership simply as "the Committee," meets each Monday at 3:00 p.m. Over coffee and chocolate brioche, these three hotshots, the heads of the firm's litigation, transactional, and regulatory departments, decide what's what at Gage & Griswell for another week. Not bad guys really, able lawyers, heady business types looking out for the greatest good for the greatest number at G&G, but since I came here eighteen years ago the Committee and their austere powers, freely delegated under the partnership agreement, have tended to scare me silly. I'm forty-nine, a former copper on the street, a big man with a brave front and a good Irish routine, but in the last few years I've heard many discouraging words from these three. My points have been cut, my office moved to something smaller, my hours and billing described as far too low. Arriving this afternoon, I steadied myself, as ever, for the worst.

"Mack," said Martin Gold, our managing partner, "Mack, we need your help. Something serious." He's a sizable man, Martin, a wrestler at the U. three decades ago, a middleweight with a chest broad as the map of America. He has a dark, shrewd face, a little like those Mongol warriors of Genghis Khan's, and the venerable look of somebody who's mixed it up with life. He is, no question, the best lawyer I know. The other two, Carl Pagnucci and Wash Thale, were eating at the walnut conference table, an antique of Continental origin with the big heavy look of a cuckoo clock. Martin invited me to share the brioche, but I took only coffee. With these guys, I needed to be quick.

"This isn't about you," said Carl, making a stark appraisal of my apprehensions.

"Who?" I asked.

"Bert," said Martin.

For going on two weeks, my partner Bert Kamin has not appeared at the office. No mail from him, no calls. In the case of your average baseline human being who has worked at Gage & Griswell during my time, say anyone from Leotis Griswell to the Polish gal who cleans the cans, this would be cause for concern. Not so clearly Bert. Bert is a kind of temperamental adolescent, big and brooding, who enjoys the combat of the courtroom. You need a lawyer who will cross-examine opposing party's CEO and claw out his intestines in the fashion of certain large cats, Bert's your guy. On the other hand, if you want someone who will come to work, fill out his time sheets, or treat his secretary as if he recollected that slavery is dead, then you might think about somebody else. After a month or two on trial, Bert is liable to take an absolute powder. Once he turned up at the fantasy camp run by the Trappers, our major league baseball team. Another time he was gambling in Monte Carlo. With his dark moods, scowls, and hallway tantrums, his macho stunts and episodic schedule, Bert has survived at Gage & Griswell largely through the sufferance of Martin, who is a champion of tolerance and seems to enjoy the odd ducks like Bert. Or, for that matter, me.

"Why don't you talk to those thugs down at the steam bath where he likes to hang out? Maybe they know where he is." I meant the Russian Bath. Unmarried, Bert is apt to follow the Kindle County sporting teams around the country on weekends, laying heavy bets and passing time in sports bars or places like the Bath where people talk about the players with an intimacy they don't presume with their relations. "He'll show up," I added, "he always does. "

Pagnucei said simply, "Not this time."

"This is very sensitive," Wash Thale told me. "Very sensitive." Wash tends to state the obvious in a grave, portentous manner, the self-commissioned voice of wisdom.

"Take a look." Martin shot a brown expandable folder across the glimmer of the table. A test, I feared at once, and felt a bolt of anxiety quicken my thorax, but inside all I found were eighteen checks. They were drawn on what we call the 397 Settlement Account, an escrow administered by G&G which contains $288 million scheduled to be paid out shortly to various plaintiffs in settlement of a massive air crash case brought against Trans-National Air. TN, the world's biggest airline and travel concern, is G&G's largest client. We stand up for TN in court; we help TN buy and deal and borrow. With its worldwide hotels and resorts, its national catering business, its golf courses, airport parking lots, and rent-a-car subsidiaries, TN lays claim to some part of the time of almost every lawyer around here. We live with the company like family in the same home, tenanted on four floors of the TN Needle, just below the world corporate headquarters.

The checks inside the folder had all been signed by Bert, in his flourishing maniac hand, each one cut to something called Litiplex Ltd., in an amount of several hundred thousand dollars. On the memo lines of the drafts Bert had written "Litigation Support." Document analyses, computer models, expert witnesses - the engineers run amok in air crash cases.

"What's Litiplex?" I asked.

Martin, to my amazement, rifled a finger as if I'd said something adroit.

"Not incorporated or authorized to do business in any of the fifty states," he said. "Not in any state's Assumed Names registry. Carl checked. "

Nodding, Carl added like an omen, "Myself."

Carl Pagnucci - born Carlo - is forty-two, the youngest of three, and stingy with words, a lawyer's lawyer who holds his own speech in the same kind of suspicion with which Woody Hayes viewed the forward pass. He is a pale little guy with a mustache like one of those round brushes that comes with your electric shaver. In his perfect suits, somber and tasteful, with a flash of gold from his cufflinks, he reveals nothing.

Assessing the news that Bert, my screwball colleague, had written millions of dollars of checks to a company that didn't exist, I felt some peculiar impulse to defend him, my own longtime alliance with the wayward.

"Maybe somebody asked him to do it," I said.

"That's where we started," Wash replied. He'd taken his stout figure back to the brioche. This had come up initially, Wash said, when Glyndora Gaines, our staff supervisor in Accounting, noticed these large disbursements with no backup.

"Glyndora's searched three times for any paper trail," Wash told me. "Invoices. Sign-of memo from Jake." Under our procedures, Bert was allowed to write checks on the 397 account only after receiving written approval from Jake Eiger, a former partner in this firm, who is now the General Counsel at TN.


"There is none. We've even had Glyndora make inquiries upstairs with her counterparts at TN, the folks who handle the accounting on 397. Nothing to alarm them. You understand. 'We had some stray correspondence for this Litiplex. Blah, blah, blah.' Martin tried the same approach with one or two of the plaintiffs' lawyers in the hope they knew something we didn't. There's nothing," he said, "not a scrap. Nobody's ever heard the name." Wash is more shifty than smart, but looking at him - his liver spots and wattles, his discreet twitches and the little bit of mouse gray hair he insists on pasting across his scalp - I detected the feckless expression he has when he is sincere. "Not to mention," he added, "the endorsement." I'd missed that. Now I took note on the back of each check of the bilingual green block stamp of the International Bank of Finance in Pico Luan. Pico, a tiny Central American nation, a hangnail on the toe of the Yucatan, is a pristine haven of fugitive dollars and absolute bank secrecy. There were no signatures on the checks' backs, but what I took for the account number was inscribed on each beneath the stamp. A straight deposit.

"We tried calling the bank," said Martin. "I explained to the General Manager that we were merely trying to confirm that Robert Kamin had rights of deposit and withdrawal on account 476642. 1 received a very genial lecture on the bank secrecy laws in Pico in reply. Quite a clever fellow, this one. With that beautiful accent. just the piece of work you'd expect in that business. Like trying to grab hold of smoke. I asked if he was familiar with Mr. Kamin's name. Not a word I could quote, but I thought he was saying yes. God knows, he didn't say no."

"And what's the total?" I thumbed the checks.

"Over five and a half million," said Carl, who was always quickest with figures. "Five point six and some change actually."

With that, we were all briefly silent, awed by the gravity of the number and the daring of the feat. My partners writhed in further anguish, but on closer inspection of myself I found I was vibrating like a bell that had been struck. What a notion! Grabbing all that dough and hieing out for parts unknown. The wealth, the freedom, the chance to start anew! I wasn't sure if I was more shocked or thrilled.

"Has anybody talked to Jake?" That seemed like the next logical step to me, tell the client they'd been had.

"God, no," said Wash. "There's going to be hell to pay with TN. A partner in the firm lies to them, embezzles, steals. That's just the kind of thing that Krzysinski has been waiting for to leverage Jake. We will be dead. Dead," he said.


Excerpted from Pleading Guilty by Scott Turow Copyright © 1993 by Scott Turow. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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( 20 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2003

    Beware: Turow at work

    It seems to me that Scott Turow's books ought to be stickered with a warning, something like: "This is not a John Grisham Book." This is the fourth Turow book I've read in the last six or eight months, and I really enjoy his style. He tells a good story, but his real strength is in his characters. Each one is severly flawed, but each is clearly loved by the author. In this book the protagonist is Mac Malloy, a (recovering?) alcoholic who stumbles through a maze of sorry circumstances. Of the four Turow books I have read, this is by far the darkest, but even amidst the somber tone there is an occasional glimpse of hope. Turow is not for the fan of the quick read. Turow pays off the reader who is willing to invest him(her)self in the wonderfully rich characters he develops.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2011

    Turow is a master

    His characters in this novel like all his others are multifaceted and surprising. The plot turns are always surprising yet once he throws you a loop, you realize that the turn was inevitable. I've always liked legal novels and I enjoy Grisham too. But Turow consistently puts Grisham to shame. Read this. You won't regret it.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    A great read. I just couldn't put this book down. Loved thhe story.

    If you like Terow, you should like this one. Twisting story and a surprise ending.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Plenty of Words

    Can you imagine a book with too many words for the reader to plow through?
    Well, sure, of course. But when the book is a captivating tale of deceit, corruption, sex and lawyers, and written by Scott Turow, how could it be too long or too wordy? Pleading Guilty is a tale with many twists, but well told as it is, I enjoyed turning every page to see what happens next. Most fans of mysteries will do the same.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2002


    Good story, but hard, slow reading. Seemed like author wanted to show how many adjectives he could throw in and how flowery he could make the language. Do not recommend.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2013

    Dedicated to the proposition that all men are created evil

    The difficulty I had with this book is the absence of good guys. I've worked in the criminal justice system in some capacity since I graduated from law school over 30 years ago. I've seen my share of people making poor choices. Happily, not everyone I have dealt with has made poor choices. Some who have chosen poorly have sought to change, and rise above their choices.

    Not true of the characters here. Not only are they all flawed, they all succumb to their flaws. When work of fiction is more depressing that a difficult reality, it's time to put it down.

    Hoping someone would choose wisely, on I read. No one did. I regret finishing the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2013

    To dawn

    I meant to ask if you couod advertise for someone to rp them. Im locked out of there. Blue.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2013

    Dawn to below

    Wowowow. No. I protect your clan. Mabye ill join if i find interest in your clan; but here you sign up your clan so i can protect them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Satisfying sequel

    I loved "Presumed Innocent" (both the book and the film) and found the sequel to be a very satisfying follow-up to the original story. My mind's eye was able to place Harrison Ford and Brian Dennehy within the story, which made the book even richer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    Great Disappointment

    I have been a huge fan of Scott Turow and read all of his books. I found this book to be very, very disappointing and doubt I will ever buy another of his books. So sad.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

    Waste of money and time!

    I really, really wish I hadn't bought this book. I'm having such a tough time getting through it, way too wordy! I don't have to know in 500 words or more the background on every character and every room a character in this book enters. I'm not going to finish it, can't even keep me interested enough to care whether or not the main character succeeds in what he's supposed to do for his law firm. I've read other Scott Turow books and enjoyed them but this one is a failure!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2003

    a good one, but...

    the book is too verbose, as if the author wants his readers to know he is the master of english language. could have been a pleasant read if put in more simple terms.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 5, 2011

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