(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Personal Injuries exploits Scott Turow’s experiences as a federal prosecutor in Operation Greylord. His fictionalized version is Project Petros, a federal investigation, headed by U.S. Attorney Stan Sennett, into Kindle County judges suspected of bribery. (Sennett’s Uncle Peter, petros in Greek, was an immigrant bankrupted by judicial corruption.) Sennett has gotten the goods on personal injury attorney Robert “Robbie” Feaver, a charming but corrupt lawyer who appears before some of the judges under suspicion: Feaver has a slush fund unreported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and he faces a long prison term for tax fraud. Feaver reluctantly agrees to go undercover in a sting operation against the judges.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Evon Miller will be his watchdog and controller. When Feaver hires attorney George Mason for his defense, the stage is set for an examination of the contrasting roles of prosecution and defense, and of their varying perspectives on justice versus mercy: Sennett as prosecutor views the world in black and white and is relentless in his desire to punish; Feaver as defendant and personal injury lawyer sees shades of gray and is quick to identify mitigating circumstances. Miller has a strict Fundamentalist religious background and unbending FBI training, but she seeks a more flexible outlook to accommodate her lesbian sexual leanings; Mason is a classic observer and compromiser, a middleman...

(The entire section is 579 words.)