Not all lawyers are capable of translating legal speak into compelling fiction. One of the remarkable exceptions is Scott Turow, the Harvard-educated attorney and prolific author. In 1987, Turow scored big with his first novel, Presumed Innocent, the suspenseful story of Rusty Sabich, a Midwestern prosecutor who finds himself on trial for the vicious murder of Carolyn Polhemus, a young colleague with whom he had had an affair.
The book was on the New York Times bestseller list for 45 weeks. In 1990, it was translated to film with Harrison Ford starring as Sabich, whose brilliant defense attorney, Sandy Stern, goes head to head with the unglamorous but canny Tommy Molto.
Now, 23 years later, Turow has written Innocent, a long-awaited sequel. Sabich, now 60, chief judge of an appellate court and candidate for the state supreme court, is accused of killing his wife, Barbara, a mathematics scholar. Many of the same characters are back, including Stern, Molto and Sabich’s son, Nat, who was a little boy during the first case. Sabich has engaged in a second affair, this time with a beautiful and witty law clerk 25 years his junior. Anna is not quite “drop dead gorgeous,” but she’s close enough. Sabich can’t believe that such an attractive young woman is on the make for him, and initially he is determined to resist. Not for long. But after several exciting liaisons, Sabich dumps Anna, even though he has fallen deeply in love. Ironically, the broken-hearted Anna later meets Nat, now 28, quite by accident. He is instantly smitten with her, but she is convinced the relationship would be unseemly.
If all of this sounds a little tawdry, be assured that Turow carries it off with skill and flair. The big question is: How will all of this play in the murder trial? The court scenes are riveting, subject to legal twists that keep the reader in constant doubt as to the verdict. Forget the no-sequels rule: Turow is better than ever, especially in the development of his complex characters. And if this one also makes its way to the screen, Harrison Ford is still available.