three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
47-July-Aug-2010
By: 
Scott Turow
user_rating: 
0

A-Innocent.epsIn the best-selling legal thriller Presumed Innocent (1987), writer and attorney Scott Turow introduced Kindle County prosecutor Rusty Sabich, who was wrongly accused of murder. Innocent continues Rusty's story two decades later. Also Reviewed Ordinary Heroes ( 3 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2006).

The Story: Nearly 25 years ago, Rusty Sabich, then a deputy prosecuting attorney in a city resembling Chicago, was accused of murdering a colleague with whom he'd had an affair. He was exonerated, and now, in 2008, he is chief appellate judge. However, Rusty is again suspected of killing another woman--this time his bipolar wife, Barbara, who dies mysteriously at home. Rusty chooses to keep her death secret for nearly a day, which arouses the suspicion of prosecuting attorney Tommy Molto, who unsuccessfully prosecuted him in Presumed Innocent. Soon, Rusty finds himself once again put on trial--and, once again, fighting to save his life.
Grand Central Publishing. 406 pages. $27.99. ISBN: 9780446562423

Miami Herald 4 of 5 Stars
"Always a deeply contemplative writer, Turow blends a lifetime's in-depth knowledge of the legal system with striking characterization and slow-building suspense. ... Familiarity with Presumed Innocent is more or less mandatory for a full appreciation of the intricate shadings of the plot and the deepening texture of the characters' relationships." Connie Ogle

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars
"The narrative perspective and timeline jump around--first person for Rusty, his mistress, and his adult son; third person for Molto. ... Turow's neatest trick is to plant small inconsistencies or omissions in their accounts. These pockets of doubt allow readers the satisfaction of detecting weaknesses and contradictions in the case before the characters do." David Hiltbrand

Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Here, Turow glosses over the detail and the novel suffers for it as you scratch your head and wonder at the motivation for unlikely developments. ... Even with its flaws, Innocent is terrific and Turow remains by far the best courtroom novelist of our time, shaming the far more prolific and predictable John Grisham." Kevin J. Hamilton

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"There are enough surprises in all this to keep the reader's attention fixed--Turow has always been very good at that--but as usual in his fiction there's more than skillful legal drama. ... All of which makes for an intelligent, thoughtful novel: a grownup book for grownup readers." Jonathan Yardley

Entertainment Weekly 3 of 5 Stars
"Even Turow's new Presumed Innocent sequel, Innocent, is not a slam-bang thriller but an unusually introspective and elegiac book. You may wonder, of course, if that's a nice way of saying it's boring. Kinda." Jeff Giles

New York Times 3 of 5 Stars
"[Turow's] intimate understanding of his characters and his authoritative knowledge of the legal world inject the narrative with emotional fuel, creating suspense that has less to do with the actual twists and turns of the plot than with our interest in what will happen to these people and how they will behave under pressure. ... Suffice it to say that the fans of Presumed Innocent who can suspend their disbelief for the first couple of chapters of this follow-up will not be disappointed." Michiko Kakutani

Critical Summary

Reviewers agreed that Innocent is a worthy follow-up to Presumed Innocent. Turow is ever a master of the legal system, and he relays his intimate knowledge through intelligent writing, good characterization, and generally suspenseful plotting. The New York Times noted some implausible developments, and the different narrators--which reveal "a rich portrait of the resentments, fears and loyalties that fester over years among family members and co-workers" (Miami Herald)--also caused some confusion for reviewers. Despite these quibbles, Entertainment Weekly, despite its relatively tepid review, spoke for all critics by noting, "It's a thrill to see the old faces again."