Forget John Grisham. Scott Turow writes the courtroom novels people will still be reading next century. His newest revisits the cast from his first (and best) book, Presumed Innocent. Rusty Sabich, exonerated of murder charges decades ago, has revived his legal career to the extent that he’s running for the state’s Supreme Court. When Rusty doesn’t report his wife’s sudden death for nearly 24 hours, his old nemesis Tommy Molto sees enough suspicious activity (like Rusty’s affair with Anna, a much younger lawyer) to file charges again.
Rusty’s son Nat, already devastated by his mother’s death, falls in love with Anna himself, after she has broken up with his father, and much of the tension here comes from the inevitable shattering of sweet young Nat’s world. Turow switches points of view expertly, so we get a variety of perspectives.
The trial is a seesaw affair, of course, with dramatic revelations on both sides. Grisham can do this. What he can’t do is create characters with the depth of Turow’s, write prose this lucid, or drop the bomb when you think the story is told. I nearly broke my jaw on the floor in 1987 at the end of Presumed Innocent, and if the new book’s ending doesn’t equal that, neither has any other book since then.