Friday, June 18, 2010

Book Review of Scott Turow's Innocent

Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent was suggested reading for law students years after it came out in 1987.  (See my review of Presumed Innocent here.)  The book was one of the earliest legal thrillers and has been credited with helping start and popularize the genre. 

Presumed Innocent    Innocent 

In the sequel, Innocent, Scott Turow returns to his protagonist Rusty Sabich twenty years later.  Sabich is retiring as an appellate judge and is being considered for the state Supreme Court.  But when his wife dies and Sabich fails to immediately report the death, flags are raised and Sabich finds himself the subject of yet another criminal investigation for murder.

The blurb:
More than twenty years after Rusty Sabich and Tommy Molto went head-to-head in the shattering murder trial of Presumed Innocent, the men are pitted against each once again in a riveting psychological match.  When Sabich, now over sixty years old and the chief justice of an appellate court, finds his wife, Barbara, dead under mysterious circumstances, Molto accuses him of murder for the second time, setting into motion a trial that is vintage Turow -- the courtroom at its most taut and explosive.

With his characteristic insight into both the dark truths of the human pysche and the dense intricacies of the criminal justice system, Scott Turow proves once again that some books simply compel us to read late into the night, desperate to know who did it.

My review:
In Innocent, Scott Turow seamlessly continues Rusty Sabich's story.  Rusty and Barbara have patched up their marriage and found their own peace over the last twenty years.  There are moments when Sabich is deeply aware of Barbara's volatility and he is too smart to feel completely at ease, "Barbara's rages always shake me, since sooner or later I look down through a tunnel in time to the crime twenty-one years ago, wondering what madness made me think we could go on."
Barbara's death draws attention to Sabich at the worst possible time,  with the evidence mounting against him, it is almost as if Sabich is back to where he was years ago -- living the nightmare of a murder trial, with the evidence piling up against him.  
In Innocent,  Turow builds a fuller picture of Tommy Molto's character and shows him to be an honorable man.  It becomes clear that Molto's earlier prosecution of Sabich isn't rooted in malice or spite,  but in his belief in Sabich's guilt.   As Molto "does not care for the insinuation he had  carried a long grudge against Sabich," Molto is not eager to explore Sabich's role in Barbara's death.  After all,  the verdict of not guilty that spared Sabich in the first murder trial had hinged upon the defense's assertions that the prosecution had misbehaved.   The allegations that the prosecution had manipulated the evidence in order to destroy an "innocent man" had damaged Molto's career.   Molto knew himself to be innocent of the charge that he had framed Sabich and just as he believed in his own innocence, Molto believed that Sabich was guilty. 
Their shared history made Molto cautious about bringing the second charge of murder against Sabich.  But with the evidence overwhelmingly pointing to Sabich's involvement in Barbara's death,  Molto again brings a charge of murder against Sabich.   Sabich calls on Sandy Stern to prepare his defense.   It is the courtroom scenes that stand out.  Turow uses the rules of evidence and procedure to create a captivating legal thriller and a fitting sequel to his earlier work, Presumed Innocent.   
If you're looking for a gripping legal thriller, Innocent will surely satisfy.  Turow's use of the rules of evidence and criminal procedure give the book an added layer of complexity and interest to lawyers.  Lawyer or layman, Innocent is a fun, satisfying read!
The WSJ recently published, Scott Turow's Retrial: The king of legal thrillers is back with a sequel to 'Presumed Innocent, " 

About the Author:
Scott Turow is the author of eight bestselling works of fiction, including Presumed Innocent and The Burden of Proof, and two nonfiction books that incude One L, which describes his experience as a first-year law student.   Turow's books have been translated into more than twenty-five language, have sold more than twenty-five languages, have sold more than twenty-five million copies worldwide, and have been adapted for film and television.  He also frequently contributes essays and op-ed pieces to such publications as The New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Playboy, and The Atlantic.

Join the contest for the audio book of Innocent by Scott Turow - ends 6/30.

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for sponsoring the giveaway and for this review opportunity!

1 comment:

  1. I will definitely read this one at some point in the future. I enjoyed Presumed Innocent (book and movie).