INNOCENT by Scott Turow

Book Quote:

“I wanted what I had wanted from the time the nightmare began: the life I had before. I did not have the strength, if the truth be told, to start again. Or to see my son, a fragile creature, become the final victim of the entire tragedy.”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky (MAY 4, 2010)

Back in 1987, Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent created a sensation. It had all of the elements that fans of legal thrillers adore: murder, adultery, courtroom pyrotechnics, and a final twist that knocked everyone’s socks off.  In Innocent, the highly anticipated sequel, it is 2007.  Rusty Sabich is now sixty years old and has risen to become Chief Judge of the Third District Appellate Court in Kindle County. He is hoping to run for the State Supreme Court in the near future. Unfortunately, his personal life has been far less successful than his career.

Rusty’s wife of thirty-six years is a brilliant woman, but she is afflicted with a crippling case of bipolar disorder. She is prone to uncontrollable rages and devastating depression; medication cannot completely alleviate her symptoms. Rusty and Barbara have stayed together partly to protect their sensitive only child, Nat, twenty-eight, who is about to graduate from law school. When Rusty is tempted by a beautiful thirty-four year old woman who has set her sights on him, he must decide whether he should risk everything to embark on an affair that is bound to end badly.

Twenty-one years earlier, Tommy Molto had been a prosecutor during Sabich’s sensational trial, and the two have a history of mutual respect and antipathy. Each acknowledges the other’s courtroom skills, but neither one can forget how Rusty evaded conviction. Now Tommy, who is acting Prosecuting Attorney, tries Rusty for a new murder—that of Rusty’s wife, Barbara. Molto’s fiery deputy, Jim Brand, is fiercely loyal to his boss and something of a pit bill. He uses all of his powers of persuasion to convince Tommy that this time, they can nail Sabich and make him pay for at least one of his crimes. What follows is a clash of the titans, since Tommy is not the only powerhouse attorney eager to win this case. Rusty is fortunate to have on his side a top-notch defense lawyer, Sandy Stern who, as he did before, hopes to wield his magic wand and exonerate his high-profile client.

Turow keeps us off balance by going back and forth in time, changing points of view, and withholding key bits of information so that he can spring a few surprises in the final chapters. Innocent is an intense story of how people nurse deep-seated resentments that fester for years and do inestimable damage; of family members who are afraid to tell one another the truth; of infidelity and betrayal; and ultimately, of love and redemption. Turow’s courtroom scenes are mesmerizing, and he makes the complex proceedings accessible and fascinating, even for those who know little about criminal procedure.

One quibble is that Rusty’s behavior does not always ring true. He is supposedly an intelligent and self-disciplined individual who has learned something from his past misdeeds, but his actions in this novel are a bit too naïve, foolish, and self-destructive to be believed. In addition, there is a bit of contrivance in the way the author sews up the threads of his narrative so that everyone gets his or her just desserts.

Still, Turow knows how to grab our attention and hold it, and he maintains a high level of suspense throughout this fast-paced and intricate tale. The sharply written and sometimes earthy dialogue as well as Turow’s entertaining and often dryly humorous prose keep things moving along quickly. Innocent, as its predecessor did more than two decades ago, demonstrates how difficult it is to mete out perfect justice in an imperfect world where so many people lie to themselves and others.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 265 readers
PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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May 4, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Mystery/Suspense, US Midwest

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