Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What We’re Reading: Innocent

Twenty-three years ago, in 1987, Scott Turow’s first novel, Presumed Innocent, was published and became a runaway bestseller. Although he has written many books since, his first has always been my favorite; the immediacy and power of the courtroom scenes coupled with the stunning plot twists behind closed doors created a riveting and satisfying mystery that stuck with me for some time.

I actually picked it up during a random browse of the library shelves, a couple of years after the book had been published, with no awareness of its bestseller status; I read it, enjoyed it, and sort of forgot about it. Then about six months later, I went to a movie with a friend, and as the events of the story unfolded, I kept getting a nagging feeling—haven’t I heard this story before? Aren’t these characters’ names strangely familiar? Don’t I know where this is going? Sure enough, it was Alan J. Pakula’s film of the same name, made from the book. And the movie was equally riveting—Harrison Ford did a great job of playing married prosecuting attorney Rusty Sabich, whose affair with a brilliant, beautiful and sexually promiscuous colleague puts him in the defendant’s seat after she is brutally raped and murdered and evidence points to him as the killer.

Imagine my delight, therefore, when I browsed the New Books shelves this week in search of an adult break from reading teen fiction and discovered that Turow, 20 years later, has written a sequel. Innocent appropriately picks up 20-odd years later as well, and in addition to the familiar characters—Rusty, his wife, Barbara, rival Tommy Molto, attorney Sandy Stern—we also get to know Rusty’s son Nat, now grown up and contemplating whether to follow his father into the law. Rusty is chief judge of the appellate court, making a run for the state supreme court. When his wife dies unexpectedly, his old rival, Tommy Molto, starts poking around the suspicious circumstances and discovers a few things about Rusty that would be unfortunate public disclosures, given the imminent election. Complex and psychologically thoughtful, this book is also every bit as suspenseful and gripping as the first, with labyrinthine plot twists that keep you guessing until the last pages.

My recommendation, if you somehow managed to miss Turow’s pop culture icon back in the ‘80s, is to have yourself a “read the book see the movie” mini-marathon with Presumed Innocent, and then satisfy your lingering curiosity by reading book #2. You’ll have a mysteriously thrilling weekend.

1 comment:

Lyn said...

Absolutely loved presumed innocent, it was only a month ago or so I watched the movie and still enjoyed it even though it is such an old movie. I will get this new book tomorrow and start reading, thanks for the tip.