[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…Rusty's second trial—which takes up the better half of this novel—proves to be just as suspenseful and gripping as his first.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times
In Innocent, [Turow's] exploring the many ways in which, time after time, we fail to under stand ourselves, in which we miss or misinterpret the evidence that could tell us who we are. "If we are always a mystery to ourselves," Anna asks at the end of Sabich's latest ordeal, "then what is the chance of fully understanding anybody else?" That's a novelist's question as much as it is a lawyer's…Innocent is a meticulously constructed and superbly paced mystery…a lovely novel, gripping and darkly self-reflective.
Terrence Rafferty - New York Times Book Review
There are enough surprises...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. Turow is a serious man who has thought long and carefully about the law. He understands that in the end it is not really much better than any other mechanism at uncovering absolute truth; that the courtroom is a roll of the dice…that life itself is a crapshoot…All of which makes for an intelligent, thoughtful novel: a grownup book for grownup readers.
Jonathan Yardley - Washington Post
Mesmerizing prose and intricate plotting lift Turow's superlative legal thriller, his best novel since his bestselling debut, Presumed Innocent, to which this is a sequel. In 2008, 22 years after the events of the earlier book, former lawyer Rusty Sabich, now a Kindle County, Ill., chief appellate judge, is again suspected of murdering a woman close to him. His wife, Barbara, has died in her bed of what appear to be natural causes, yet Rusty comes under scrutiny from his old nemesis, acting prosecuting attorney Tommy Molto, who unsuccessfully prosecuted him for killing his mistress decades earlier. Tommy's chief deputy, Jim Brand, is suspicious because Rusty chose to keep Barbara's death a secret, even from their son, Nat, for almost an entire day, which could have allowed traces of poison to disappear. Rusty's candidacy for a higher court in an imminent election; his recent clandestine affair with his attractive law clerk, Anna Vostic; and a breach of judicial ethics complicate matters further. Once again, Turow displays an uncanny ability for making the passions and contradictions of his main characters accessible and understandable.
It took Turow more than 20 years to bring us the sequel to his best-selling first novel, Presumed Innocent, and it was worth the wait. Now 60 and long after being acquitted of murdering his mistress, Rusty Sabich has become chief judge of the Kindle County, IL, appellate court and is running for the state supreme court. When his wife dies in her sleep, Sabich waits 24 hours before calling his son or anyone else, setting off suspicions of foul play with his old nemesis, acting prosecutor Tommy Molto. The coroner determines she died of natural causes, but Molto and his chief deputy, Brand, quietly start building a case, convinced Sabich is trying to get away with murder again. Verdict: This is a beautifully written book with finely drawn characters and an intricate plot seamlessly weaving a troubled family story with a murder. Drawing the reader in and not letting go until the last page, Turow's legal thriller is a most worthy successor to Presumed Innocent and perhaps the author's finest work to date. —Stacy Alesi, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., Boca Raton, FL
Though at least one other lawyer turned author has subsequently achieved greater commercial success, Turow remains the master of the form, at least partly because he's more fascinated by the mysteries of the human heart than he is by the intricacies of the law. Here, suspense and discovery sustain the narrative momentum until the final pages, but character trumps plot in Innocent. The ironic title underscores the huge gap between innocence as a moral state of grace and "not guilty" as a courtroom verdict. Once again, Turow's novel pits Rusty Sabich against Tommy Molto, former colleagues turned adversaries, with the former now chief judge of the appellate court and the latter as prosecuting attorney. Sabich remains more complicated and morally compromised, while Molto is much more certain of right and wrong. Exonerated in a murder trial 20 years ago, but his innocence never completely established, Sabich finds himself once again under suspicion after the sudden death of his mentally unstable, heavily medicated wife. As in the first novel, Sabich suffers the guilt of infidelity, but does this make him guilty of the murder Molto becomes convinced the judge has committed? Complicating the issue are the judge's only son, more of a legal scholar than his father though with some of his mother's emotional instability, and the whirlwind romance between the junior Sabich and the former clerk for the senior Sabich. To reveal more would undermine the reader's own pleasure of discovery, but the judge, whether guilty or not, might prefer prison to the revelation of crucial secrets. "How do we ever know what's in someone else's heart or mind?" the novel asks. "If we are always a mystery to ourselves, then what is the chance of fully understanding anybody else?" The various perspectives—with some characters knowing more than the reader does, while the reader knows more than others—contribute to an exquisite tension that drives the narrative. Where the title of the first novel may have presumed innocence, the sequel knows that we're all guilty of something.
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