Innocent, by Scott Turow

Once again Scott Turow has produced a page-turner. Rusty Sabich, chief judge of an appellate court, wakes up one morning to find his wife dead in bed beside him. The question is, how did she die, and did Rusty have anything to do with it?

Twenty-two years earlier, Rusty was charged with murdering his mistress. The case against him was strong enough to keep us in suspense the whole book, but eventually, he was acquitted. We see him in the same predicament again, accused of murdering a significant woman in his life. The earlier book, Presumed Innocent, was a fast-paced, tension-filled novel, full of twists and turns, with an ending that I found completely unexpected and actually somewhat shocking--very thought-provoking. I was dying to read Innocent, to see how Rusty would fare this time around. It definitely kept my attention and I found it hard to put down, but ultimately, despite the complex story line and the unrelenting tension, I was disappointed. Somehow, I was not engaged by the characters. My recollection of the previous book was that I actually liked Rusty and cared about what happened to him. This time I found him quite aloof, hard to read, and not all that likable. Other characters are not fully developed and none of them commanded my sympathy or respect except for the prosecutor, Tommy Molto. He seemed the most genuine, and turned out to be one of the most honest people in the book, a man stuck in a thankless job, trying his best to do the right thing. The ending of the earlier book was extremely significant and would definitely have affected Rusty’s relationship with his wife, Barbara. I found it frustrating that the actual event is never referred to, not even in Rusty’s thoughts. Perhaps because some readers of Innocent might not have read the earlier one yet and Turow didn’t want to spoil it for them, but I found this quite annoying and unrealistic.

Turow is a talented writer with a gift for constructing complex story lines, creating tension, and keeping his readers riveted. Innocent was a wild ride but I was very glad when it was over. Here’s hoping his next mystery includes characters that we care about more, so we can enjoy the ride and want it to last longer.

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