Personal Injuries

Personal Injuries

by Scott Turow

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446584142
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/05/2011
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 629,614
Product dimensions: 7.32(w) x 4.26(h) x 1.19(d)

About the Author

Scott Turow is the author of ten bestselling works of fiction, including Identical, Innocent, Presumed Innocent, and The Burden of Proof, and two nonfiction books, including One L, about his experience as a law student. His books have been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and have been adapted into movies and television projects. He has frequently contributed essays and op-ed pieces to publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.


Chicago, Illinois

Date of Birth:

April 12, 1949

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois


B.A. in English, Amherst College, 1970; M.A., Stanford University, 1974; J.D., Harvard University, 1978

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

He knew that it was wrong, and that he was going to get caught. He said he knew this day was coming.

He knew they had been stupid, he told me -- worse, greedy. He said he knew he should have stopped. But somehow, each time he thought they'd quit, he'd ask himself how once more could make it any worse. Now he knew he was in trouble.

I recognized the tune. Over twenty-some years, the folks sitting in that leather club chair in front of my desk have found only a few old standards in the jukebox. I Didn't Do It. The Other One Did It. Why Are They Picking on Me. His selection, I'm Sorry, made the easiest listening. But they all wanted to hear the same song from me: Maybe I Can Get You Out of This. I said it usually, although I knew it would often prove untrue. But it's a complicated business being somebody's only hope.

This is a lawyer's story, the kind attorneys like to hear and tell. About a case. About a client. His name was Robert Feaver. Everyone knew him as Robbie, although he was getting old for that kind of thing, forty-three, he'd said, when I asked his age. The time was 1992, the second week in September. The pundits had finally stopped predicting that Ross Perot was going to be the next President of the United States, and the terms "dot" and "com" had not yet been introduced to one another. I recall the period precisely because the week before I had returned to Virginia to lay my father to rest. His passing, which over the years I'd assumed I would take as being in the natural order of things, had instead imbued all my waking moments with the remote quality of dreams, so that even my hand, when I considered it, seemed disconnected from my body.

Robbie Feaver's troubles were more immediate. Last night three Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Intelligence Division had visited him at home -- one to talk and two to listen. They were, as you would expect, rumpled men in inexpensive sport coats, grave but polite. They had handed him a grand jury subpoena for all of his law partnership's financial records and tried to ask Robbie questions about his income tax returns. Wisely, he had refused to reply.

He could suit himself, responded the one agent who spoke. But they wanted to tell him a couple things. Good news and bad. Bad first.

They knew. They knew what Robbie and his law partner, Morton Dinnerstein, had been up to. They knew that for several years the two had occasionally deposited a check they received when they won or settled one of their personal injury cases in a secret account at River National Bank, where the firm transacted no other business. They knew that out of the River National account Dinnerstein and Robbie had paid the usual shares of what they'd earned -- two thirds to the clients, one ninth to the referring attorneys, odd amounts to experts or court reporters. Everyone had received his due. Except the IRS. They knew that for years now, Feaver and his partner had been writing checks to cash to draw down the balance of the account, never paying a dime in tax.

You guys are cold-cocked, the agent added. Robbie laughed now, very briefly, repeating the words.

I didn't ask how Robbie and his partner could have ever believed a scheme so simpleminded would work. I was long accustomed to the dumb ways people get themselves in trouble. Besides, the fact was that their scam had operated smoothly for years. A checking account that paid no interest was unlikely to come to the Service's attention. It was, frankly, noteworthy that it had, a development that would inevitably be traced to freak coincidence, or, if things were spicier, betrayal.

Feaver had heard out the agents in his living room. He was perched on a camelback sofa smartly upholstered in bleached silk, trying to contain himself. To smile. Stay slick. He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by the unexpected sensation of a single cold rill of his own sweat tracking the length of his side until it was absorbed in the elastic waistband of his boxers.

And the good news? he asked on second effort.

They were getting to that, the agent said. The good news was that Robbie had an opportunity. Maybe there was something he could do for himself. Something that a person with his family situation ought to consider.

The agent then walked across the marble foyer and opened the front door. The United States Attorney, Stan Sennett, was standing on Robbie's doorstep. Feaver recognized him from TV, a short man, slender, kempt with a compulsive orderliness. A few gnats zagged madly under the light above the careful part in Sennett's head. He greeted Feaver with his in-court expression, humorless as a hatchet blade.

Robbie had never practiced a day of criminal law, but he knew what it meant that the United States Attorney was standing in person on his front stoop late at night. It meant the biggest gun was pointed straight at him. It meant they wanted to make him an example. It meant he'd never get away.

In his terror, Robbie Feaver found a single useful thought.

I want a lawyer, he said.

He was entitled, Sennett finally responded. But perhaps Robbie should listen to him first. As soon as Sennett set a polished brogan across the threshold, Robbie repeated himself.

I can't promise the deal will be the same tomorrow, Sennett told him. Lawyer, Feaver said again.

The agents took over then, offering advice. If he was going to an attorney, find a good one, someone who'd been around. Talk to that lawyer -- and no one else. Not Mom. Not the wife. And certainly not his law partner, Dinnerstein. The U.S. Attorney passed one agent his card, and the agent handed it to Feaver. Sennett would be waiting for Feaver's lawyer's call. About to step down into the darkness, the prosecutor asked over his shoulder whether Robbie had anyone in mind.

Interesting choice, Sennett told Feaver with a shallow smile when he heard my name.

"I'm not a rat," Robbie Feaver said now. "That's the play, right, George? They want me to dime somebody out."

I asked if he had any idea who.

"Well, it better not be Mort. My partner? Never. There's nothing to say about Mort."

Feaver and Dinnerstein were lifelong friends, he told me, next-door neighbors as boys growing up in the Jewish enclave of Warren Park, here in DuSable, roommates through college and law school. But their secret account was joint, both men had made deposits and written the checks to cash, and neither had reported the income. There was enough damaging paper that it seemed unlikely the IRS was going to need anyone's assistance to install either one of them in the trophy case.

I asked if there might be something else the government wanted Robbie to tell them about Mort, or any other person, but Feaver hitched a shoulder limply, looking lost.

I did not know Robbie Feaver well. When he'd called this morning, he'd reminded me that we'd met several times in the lobby of the LeSueur Building where we each had our law offices, and of the committee work he'd done for the Kindle County Bar Association a couple of years ago during my term as president. My memories of him were vague and not necessarily pleasant. Measured according to the remaining reflexes of a proper Southern upbringing, he was the kind of fellow who'd be described simply as 'too much.' Too good-looking in the sense that he was too well aware of it. Too much stiff, dark hair that reflected too much fussing. He was tanned in every season and spent too much money on his clothes -- high-styled Italian suits and snazzy foulards -- accompanied by too much jewelry. He spoke too loudly, and too eagerly to strangers in the elevator. In fact, in any setting, he talked too much -- one of those people who went one up on Descartes: I speak, therefore I am. But I now saw one apparent virtue: he could have told you all of that. Diminished by fear, he maintained an air of candor, at least about himself. As clients went, therefore, he seemed, on first impression, better than average.

When I asked what the agent had meant about his family, he sagged a bit.

"Sick wife," he said, "sick mother." Waging a running war against the medical establishment, Feaver, like many personal injury attorneys, had absorbed the lexicon of physicians. His mother was in a nursing home. "CVA," he said, meaning a stroke. His wife, Lorraine, was worse. She had been diagnosed nearly two years ago with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- ALS, or more commonly Lou Gehrig's disease -- and was on a certain downward course toward total paralysis and, eventually, death.

"She's got a year maybe before things get really hairy, no one knows for sure." He was stoical but his black eyes did not rise from the carpet. "I mean, I can't leave her. Not practically. There's nobody else to take care of her."

That was the agent's point. Feaver would talk or be in the penitentiary when his wife reached the point of total helplessness or passed. The dark shroud of that prospect fell over us both.

In the resulting silence, I picked up Sennett's card, which Feaver had laid on my desk. Without it, I might have questioned whether Robbie had identified the right man on his doorstep. The United States Attorney, with ninety-two assistants and several hundred cases to supervise, would ordinarily have no direct role in a straightforward tax case, even one against a successful personal injury lawyer. Whatever Stan Sennett had come to Robbie's house to say last night must have been a mouthful.

"What did it mean," Feaver asked, "when Sennett said that George Mason would be an interesting choice? Does he hate your guts or think you're a pushover?"

It was complicated, I responded. I believed in some moods Stan would say I was a close friend.

"Well, that's good, then, isn't it?" Feaver asked.

When it came to Stan Sennett, I never knew the answer.

Sometimes friends, I told Feaver. Always rivals.

Copyright © 1999 by Scott Turow

Table of Contents

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Personal Injuries 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is another book that, based on less than glowing reviews, I held off reading 'til recently. I am so sorry I didn't get it hot off the press! The main character, Robbie Feaver, is a high-rolling Personal Injury lawyer with a roving eye and ego to match, a Mercedes, lovely home, and terminally ill wife whom he loves dearly. All of Robbie's success comes to a screeching halt when the IRS and U. S. Attorney come down hard on him for bribing judges. Of course, it's the judges the Government really wants, and Robbie has no choice but to become their confidential informant, with a female FBI agent named Evon to babysit him. The U. S. Attorney running the case is as ruthless as they come, perfectly willing to spend enormous sums of money and force his star witness into increasingly dangerous situations to secure the evidence to get his convictions. Robbie Feaver is, among many other things, a pathological liar, and just when it seems there is nothing else he could possibly lie about, he does. Similarly, when it looks like he can't get any more deeply into trouble, he does. Yet, he is a supremely sympathetic character and I found myself rooting for him all the way, wanting him to find a way out of the hole he'd dug himself into and turn his life around. This was a complex story with very real, multi-layered, empathetic characters and an all around great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot. It is the first Scott Turow book I have read, although I have read a number by John Grishum and Lisa Scottoline. The three are similar in the way they approach a story. They do not produce the shocking, high speed tales of a James Patterson, but their characterization and sense of subtle irony is outstanding. I thought the development of Robbie and Evon was fabulous and the ending was very powerful. I will definitely scout out Turow's other books, and I would recommend this book highly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read all of John Grisham's and Scott Turow's books, I held off quite awhile purchasing this book because of the previous reviews. I finally ordered it and was delightfully surprised. It was a suspenseful page-turner. The story grabs you from the first chapter. Don't be mislead by the reviews. If you are a Grisham or Turow fan, you will love this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of Scott Turow's better efforts, 'Personal Injuries' unfolds slowly and deliberately, like a Greek tragedy. There are no car chases, no shootouts, just a foreboding sense of the inevitable running its course. Those who are looking for a legal thriller-diller will be disappointed, but those who are looking for a character-driven novel with background themes of big city corruption and personal redemption will be more than satisfied. Turow's mythical Kindle County, with all its sleazy politcal infighting and grimy big-city realism is again the backgound for this novel and provides it with an extra note of authenticity. This reader felt that he knew these people and where they lived and worked. In time Scott Turow's work my transcend its genre of the legal novel and become 'real literature.' 'Personal Injuries' is a more focused effort than 'The Laws of the Fathers' and ranks with this author's best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wrote a review of this book for the ABA Student Lawyer national publication. Like so many of Turow's other works, Personal Injuries is based upon true life--not necessarily 'fiction' in the truest sense. Although the facts of the book were messaged a bit from Turow's real-life prosecution of 'Operation Gaylord' in his hometown of Chicago, the book is nontheless thoroughly entertaining, with a sprinkling of evidentiary law for those of you who are attorneys or attorneys to be. Although not quite as stunning a book as, say, Presumed Innocent, Personal Injuries is a great read with a surprise ending. I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys the legal-thriller genre Turow created.
Japurol More than 1 year ago
Excellent reading. All work from Turow are worth reading; I always learn something significant or important. Japurol
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a simple read with a formula plot, cardboard characters, and a writing style that can be cut-and-pasted into a first grade primer, forget about reading Personal Injuries. This is a novel to be savored like a good chardonnay. Turow¿s characters have flesh and blood. Robbie Feaver is the Willie Loman of the Millennium. Just about everything about him is phony. His whole life has been a string of lies and, what¿s more, he has convinced even himself that they are true. But Turow doesn¿t stop there. He gives us glimpses of Robbie¿s soul and allows the reader to see the spirit of an otherwise merely sleazy man. Likewise, another character, Evon, who is tied up in knots in her own identity crisis, is easy to dislike. But, as Evon's character develops, a vulnerable human being releases itself from the anonymity of layers of camouflage. These people show redeeming qualities that pave the path to redemption for their shortcomings. Personal Injuries is not a fast read. It is advisable not to read certain chapters at bedtime, or (as I did) you will awaken in the middle of the night with the bed light still on and the book opened to the page you were reading when you fell asleep. To those who found it boring, I give this bit of advice: read it again¿this time as an intelligent piece of literature. Appreciate the richness of the plot, the texture of the characters, the craftsmanship of the way Turow puts his words on paper. This was my first Scott Turow novel. If this latest book is an indication of a downhill spiral, then his writing career has many, many years to go before it hits bottom.
TomSlee on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Good fun. Fast moving, and Robbie Feaver is a obnoxiously-charming main character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gripping novel, as much a character study as a legal thriller.
Kitty-O More than 1 year ago
This novel deals with lawyers, judges, federal law enforcement, and courtroom personnel as it reveals how bribes are handled as a matter of course. Not a nail-biter but okay reading for the beach.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Turow and Grisham two of the best new age legal/mystery writers. I say new age because I started my legal/mystery reading with Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason). Honestly, I like all three writers. I would not call Turow¿s Personal Injuries a legal thriller. The characters are too well developed for this to be a thriller and the pacing seems too slow. In Personal Injuries Turow has given his fans a superbly plotted and methodical yarn. A yarn told step by step much the same way a lawyer would plan and strategize for a case. For me to enjoy a story I have to care about the stories characters. And while Turow has developed his characters very well I didn¿t give a flip about them. Maybe I wasn¿t supposed to care? We all have our own reading preferences so I would not take it ¿personal¿ if you disagreed with me when I say, I liked Personal Injuries.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first chapter begins in a place we can all relate to and the story quickly sweeps you up. Clever juke box figure of speech at the beginning and funny Descartes reference. Great pathos with the entrance of the family illnesses builds the depth of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the book so far and plan to finish reading it asap.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With the exception of some tedious passages and a little nonbelievability, this was a very enjoyable, worthwhile pastime. I've read all of Grisham and most Turow and I'd rate this in the top 25% of what I've read. Definitely more than worth the ten bucks to download it as an eBook.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Turow and all of Grisham and this was one of my favorites. The time Turow took on character development was well spent. I can't believe the disparity in the reviews I have read. Maybe it's not a super achievement but it certainly is not as bad as some seem to think.
Guest More than 1 year ago

I don't have much time to read books, so I try to choose them carefully. 'Personal Injuries' was a successful selection.

Turow has written a very intelligent, believeable story with a plot that keeps you guessing around all of the little twists along the way.

I was suprised by the level of the author's observations about the settings and the characters. The detail was impressive. And each of the main characters felt very well developed.

If you're looking for a good beach read, 'Personal Injuries' ought to fit your bill.