A special interview with CNN & Time
Prose and cons: A profile of Scott Turow
October 22, 1999
(CNN) -- The father of the legal thriller is back, this time with a book that is drawn from his personal experiences as a prosecutor. Scott Turow burst on the scene with "Presumed Innocent," a best-seller about the murder of a young prosecutor, in 1987. Since then, he has written four more best-sellers.
His latest, "Personal Injuries," has already climbed high on the charts. It is the story of Robbie Feaver, a personal injury lawyer who is forced by the FBI to serve as an undercover informant in an investigation of judicial corruption. The broad outlines of the story are based on Turow's own experiences as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago in the 1980's, when the FBI and Justice Department conducted Operation Greylord. It was a massive undercover investigation into judicial corruption in Chicago's Cook County. Fifteen local judges and 49 lawyers were convicted. Turow prosecuted one of the most notorious judges, who received an 18-year prison sentence.
Turow says his motivation for taking on corruption came from an experience recounted to him by his grandfather who had bought a gas station only to find that it had been condemned by the city. Despite losing his life savings, his grandfather didn't sue, telling young Turow, "A poor man like me? I can't afford to buy a judge."
A fictionalized version of that story is related by one of the main characters in "Personal Injuries," a prosecutor who is leading the undercover investigation. But Turow says while Operation Greylord might have provided inspiration for the story, the characters are strictly his own creation. He says he's kept his characters strictly fictional since his first book, "One-L," which was based on his first year at Harvard Law School in the 1970's.
CNN & TIME
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