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3.5 340
by Scott Turow

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The sequel to the genre-defining, landmark bestseller Presumed Innocent, INNOCENT continues the story of Rusty Sabich and Tommy Molto who are, once again, twenty years later, pitted against each other in a riveting psychological match after the mysterious death of Rusty's wife.


The sequel to the genre-defining, landmark bestseller Presumed Innocent, INNOCENT continues the story of Rusty Sabich and Tommy Molto who are, once again, twenty years later, pitted against each other in a riveting psychological match after the mysterious death of Rusty's wife.

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
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.
—The Washington Post
Terrence Rafferty
In Innocent, [Turow's] exploring the many ways in which, time after time, we fail to under­stand 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.
—The New York Times Book Review
Michiko Kakutani
…[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.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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. (May)
Sound Commentary
"Narrators Herrmann and Cassidy give quality fully vocalized readings, making listeners want to tackle this in one sitting. You won't need to have ever read the first in order to enjoy the second. But do both, and take them in order, if only just to double your pleasure."
From the Publisher
"There are so many twists and turns in this one you'll never guess what really happened. The story is expertly narrated from the main characters' points of view by Edward Herrmann in the male parts and Orlagh Cassidy as the female characters ...Herrmann masterfully portrays the stoic Savich, his confused adult son, and the relentless defense lawyer Sandy Stern, who is weakened by cancer. Cassidy is superb...the quality of the writing is high, and the narration sterling."—AudioFile

"Narrators Herrmann and Cassidy give quality fully vocalized readings, making listeners want to tackle this in one sitting. You won't need to have ever read the first in order to enjoy the second. But do both, and take them in order, if only just to double your pleasure."—Sound Commentary

Library Journal
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. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10; for information on the audio edition, see "Major Audio Releases," LJ 4/15/10.—Ed.]—Stacy Alesi, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., Boca Raton, FL
Kirkus Reviews
'Tis the season for sequels-unexpected, decades removed from their well-remembered predecessors. June sees the return of Brett Easton Ellis with Imperial Bedrooms, another Elvis Costello-titled novel that revisits the lost boys of Less Than Zero, the lost men they have become a quarter-century later and the new Hollywood generation of lost girls after whom they lust. It also finds Oscar Hijuelos returning with Beautiful Maria of My Soul, the title of the lovesick ballad immortalized 20 years ago in his breakthrough novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Here, Hijuelos retells the story of that ill-fated romance from the perspective of its inspiration. But first comes the May publication of Innocent, by Scott Turow, a sequel after 20 years to Presumed Innocent, the novel that not only launched the Chicago-based lawyer's literary career but inspired a spate of popular courtroom procedurals. 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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Grand Central Publishing
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By Turow, Scott

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2010 Turow, Scott
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780446562423


Nat, September 30, 2008

A man is sitting on a bed. He is my father.

The body of a woman is beneath the covers. She was my mother.

This is not really where the story starts. Or how it ends. But it is the moment my mind returns to, the way I always see them.

According to what my father will soon tell me, he has been there, in that room, for nearly twenty-three hours, except for bathroom breaks. Yesterday, he awoke, as he does most weekdays, at half past six and could see the mortal change as soon as he glanced back at my mother, just as his feet had found his slippers. He rocked her shoulder, touched her lips. He pumped the heel of his palm against her sternum a few times, but her skin was cool as clay. Her limbs were already moving in a piece, like a mannequin’s.

He will tell me he sat then, in a chair across from her. He never cried. He thought, he will say. He does not know how long, except that the sun had moved all the way across the room, when he finally stood again and began to tidy obsessively.

He will say he put the three or four books she was always reading back on the shelf. He hung up the clothes she had a habit of piling on the chaise in front of her dressing mirror, then made the bed around her, pulling the sheets tight, folding the spread down evenly, before laying her hands out like a doll’s on the satin binding of the blanket. He threw out two of the flowers that had wilted in the vase on her night table and straightened the papers and magazines on her desk.

He will tell me he called no one, not even the paramedics because he was certain she was dead, and sent only a one-line e-mail to his assistant to say he would not be at work. He did not answer the phone, although it rang several times. Almost an entire day will have passed before he realizes he must contact me.

But how can she be dead? I will ask. She was fine two nights ago when we were together. After a freighted second, I will tell my father, She didn’t kill herself.

No, he will agree at once.

She wasn’t in that kind of mood.

It was her heart, he will say then. It had to be her heart. And her blood pressure. Your grandfather died the same way.

Are you going to call the police?

The police, he will say after a time. Why would I call the police?

Well, Christ, Dad. You’re a judge. Isn’t that what you do when someone dies suddenly? I was crying by now. I didn’t know when I had started.

I was going to phone the funeral home, he will tell me, but I realized you might want to see her before I did that.

Well, shit, well, yes, I want to see her.

As it happens, the funeral home will tell us to call our family doctor, and he in turn will summon the coroner, who will send the police. It will become a long morning, and then a longer afternoon, with dozens of people moving in and out of the house. The coroner will not arrive for nearly six hours. He will be alone with my mom’s body for only a minute before asking my dad’s permission to make an index of all the medications she took. An hour later, I will pass my parents’ bathroom and see a cop standing slack-jawed before the open medicine cabinet, a pen and pad in hand.

Jesus, he will declare.

Bipolar disorder, I will tell him when he finally notices me. She had to take a lot of pills. In time, he will simply sweep the shelves clean and go off with a garbage bag containing all the bottles.

In the meanwhile, every so often another police officer will arrive and ask my father about what happened. He tells the story again and again, always the same way.

What was there to think about all that time? one cop will say.

My dad can have a hard way with his blue eyes, something he probably learned from his own father, a man he despised.

Officer, are you married?

I am, Judge.

Then you know what there was to think about. Life, he will answer. Marriage. Her.

The police will make him go through his account three or four more times—how he sat there and why. His response will never vary. He will answer every question in his usual contained manner, the stolid man of law who looks out on life as an endless sea.

He will tell them how he moved each item.

He will tell them where he spent each hour.

But he will not tell anybody about the girl.




Rusty, March 19, 2007, Eighteen Months Earlier

From the elevated walnut bench a dozen feet above the lawyers’ podium, I bang the gavel and call the last case of the morning for oral argument.

People versus John Harnason,” I say, “fifteen minutes each side.”

The stately appellate courtroom, with its oxblood pillars rising two stories to a ceiling decorated with rococo gildings, is largely empty of spectators, save for Molly Singh, the Tribune’s courthouse reporter, and several young deputy PAs, drawn by a difficult case and the fact that their boss, the acting prosecuting attorney, Tommy Molto, will be making a rare appearance up here to argue in behalf of the State. A ravaged-looking warhorse, Molto sits with two of his deputies at one of the lustrous walnut tables in front of the bench. On the other side, the defendant, John Harnason, convicted of the fatal poisoning of his roommate and lover, waits to hear his fate debated, while his lawyer, Mel Tooley, advances toward the podium. Along the far wall, several law clerks are seated, including Anna Vostic, my senior clerk, who will leave the job on Friday. At my nodding direction, Anna will ignite the tiny lights atop counsel’s podium, green, yellow, and red, to indicate the same things they do in traffic.

“May it please the Court,” says Mel, the time-ingrained salutation of lawyers to appellate judges. At least seventy pounds overweight these days, Mel still insists on wearing bold pin-striped suits as snug as sausage casings—enough to instill vertigo—and the same lousy rug, which looks as though he skinned a poodle. He begins with an oily grin, as if he and I, and the two judges who flank me on the three-judge panel that will decide the appeal, Marvina Hamlin and George Mason, are all the best of friends. I have never cared for Mel, a bigger snake than usual in the nest of serpents that is the criminal defense bar.

“First,” says Mel, “I can’t start without briefly wishing Chief Judge Sabich a happy birthday on this personal milestone.”

I am sixty years old today, an occasion I have approached with gloom. Mel undoubtedly gleaned this tidibit from the gossip column on page two of today’s Trib, a daily drumbeat of innuendo and leaks. It concludes routinely with birthday greetings to a variety of celebrities and local notables, which this morning included me: “Rusty Sabich, Chief Judge of the State Court of Appeals for the Third Appellate District and candidate for the state Supreme Court, 60.” Seeing it in boldface was like taking a bullet.

“I hoped no one had noticed, Mr. Tooley,” I say. Everyone in the courtroom laughs. As I discovered long ago, being a judge somehow makes your every joke, even the lamest, side splitting. I beckon Tooley to proceed.

The work of the appellate court in its simplest terms is to make sure that the person appealing got a fair trial. Our docket reflects justice in the American style, divided evenly between the rich, who are usually contesting expensive civil cases, and the poor, who make up most of the criminal appellants and face significant prison terms. Because the state supreme court reviews very few matters, nine times out of ten the court of appeals holds the final word on a case.

The issue today is well-defined: Did the State offer enough evidence to justify the jury’s murder verdict against Harnason? Appellate courts rarely reverse on this ground; the rule is that the jury’s decision stands unless it is literally irrational. But this was a very close case. Ricardo Millan, Harnason’s roommate and business partner in a travel-packaging enterprise, died at the age of thirty-nine of a mysterious progressive illness that the coroner took for an undiagnosed intestinal infection or parasite. There things might have ended were it not for the doggedness of Ricardo’s mother, who made several trips here from Puerto Rico. She used all her savings to hire a private detective and a toxicologist at the U who persuaded the police to exhume Ricardo’s body. Hair specimens showed lethal levels of arsenic.

Poisoning is murder for the underhanded. No knife, no gun. No Nietzschean moment when you confront the victim and feel the elemental thrill of exerting your will. It involves fraud far more than violence. And it’s hard not to believe that what sunk Harnason before the jury is simply that he looks the part. He appears vaguely familiar, but that must be from seeing his picture in the paper, because I would recall somebody so self-consciously odd. He is wearing a garish copper-colored suit. On the hand with which he is furiously scribbling notes, his nails are so long that they have begun to curl under like some Chinese emperor’s, and an abundance of unmanageable orangey knots covers his scalp. In fact, there is too much reddish hair all over his head. His overgrown eyebrows make him resemble a beaver, and a gingery mustache droops over his mouth. I have always been baffled by folks like this. Is he demanding attention or does he simply think the rest of us are boring?

Aside from his looks, the actual evidence that Harnason murdered Ricardo is spotty. Neighbors reported a recent episode in which a drunken Harnason brandished a kitchen knife on the street, screaming at Ricardo about his visits with a younger man. The State also emphasized that Harnason went to court to prevent exhuming Ricardo’s body, where he maintained that Ricky’s mother was a kook who’d stick Harnason with the bill for another burial. Probably the only piece of substantial proof is that the detectives found microscopic traces of arsenic oxide ant poison in the shed behind the house that Harnason inherited from his mother. The product had not been manufactured for at least a decade, leading the defense to maintain that the infinitesimal granules were merely a degraded leftover from the mother’s time, whereas the real perpetrator could have purchased a more reliably lethal form of arsenic oxide from several vendors on the Internet. Despite the familiarity of arsenic as a classic poison, such deaths are a rarity these days, and thus arsenic is not covered in routine toxicological screenings performed in connection with autopsies, which is why the coroner initially missed the cause of death.

All in all, the evidence is so evenly balanced that as chief judge, I decided to order Harnason freed on bail pending his appeal. That does not happen often after a defendant is convicted, but it seemed unfair for Harnason to start doing time in this razor-thin case before we passed on the matter.

My order accounts, in turn, for the appearance today by Tommy Molto, the acting PA. Molto is a skillful appellate advocate, but as head of his office, he rarely has the time to argue appeals these days. He is handling this case because the prosecutors clearly read the bail ruling as an indication Harnason’s murder conviction might be reversed. Molto’s presence is meant to emphasize how strongly his office stands by its evidence. I give Tommy his wish, as it were, and question him closely once he takes his turn at the podium.

“Mr. Molto,” I say, “correct me, but as I read the record, there is no proof at all how Mr. Harnason would know that arsenic would not be detected by a routine toxicological screening, and thus that he could pass off Mr. Millan’s death as one by natural causes. That isn’t public information, is it, about what’s covered on an autopsy tox screen?”

“It’s not a state secret, Your Honor, but no, it’s not publicized, no.”

“And secret or not, there was no proof that Harnason would know, was there?”

“That is correct, Chief Judge,” says Molto.

One of Tommy’s strengths up here is that he is unfailingly polite and direct, but he cannot keep a familiar shadow of brooding discontent from darkening his face in response to my interrogation. The two of us have a complicated history. Molto was the junior prosecutor in the event twenty-one years ago that still divides my life as neatly as a stripe down the center of a road, when I was tried and then exonerated of the murder of another deputy prosecuting attorney.

“And in fact, Mr. Molto, there wasn’t even clear evidence how Mr. Harnason could have poisoned Mr. Millan, was there? Didn’t several of their friends testify that Mr. Millan cooked all the meals?”

“Yes, but Mr. Harnason usually poured the drinks.”

“But the defense chemist said arsenic oxide is too bitter to be concealed even in something like a martini or a glass of wine, didn’t he? The prosecution didn’t really refute that testimony, did you?”

“There was no rebuttal on that point, that is true, Your Honor. But these men shared most of their meals. That certainly gave Harnason plenty of opportunity to commit the crime the jury convicted him of.”

Around the courthouse these days, people speak regularly of how different Tommy seems, married for the first time late in life and ensconced by luck in a job he plainly longed for. Tommy’s recent good fortune has done little to rescue him from his lifetime standing among the physically unblessed. His face looks timeworn, verging on elderly. The little bit of hair left on his head has gone entirely white, and there are pouches of flesh beneath his eyes like used teabags. Yet there is no denying a subtle improvement. Tommy has lost weight and bought suits that no longer look as if he’d slept in them, and he often sports an expression of peace and, even, cheerfulness. But not now. Not with me. When it comes to me, despite the years, Tommy still regards me as an enduring enemy, and judging by his look as he heads back to his seat, he takes my doubts today as further proof.

As soon as the argument is over, the other two judges and I adjourn without our clerks to a conference room adjoining the courtroom, where we will discuss the morning’s cases and decide their outcome, including which of the three of us will write each opinion for the court. This is an elegant chamber that looks like the dining room in a men’s club, right down to the crystal chandelier. A vast Chippendale table holds enough high-backed leather chairs to seat all eighteen judges of the court on the rare occasion that we sit together—en banc, as it is known—to decide a case.

“Affirm,” says Marvina Hamlin, as if there is no point for discussion, once we get to Harnason. Marvina is your average tough black lady with plenty of reason to be that way. She was ghetto raised, had a son at sixteen, and still worked her way through school, starting as a legal secretary and ending up as a lawyer—and a good one, too. She tried two cases in front of me when I was a trial judge years ago. On the other hand, after sitting with Marvina for a decade, I know she will not change her mind. She has not heard another human being say anything worth considering since her mother told her at a very early age that she had to watch out for herself. “Who else could have done it?” demands Marvina.

“Does your assistant bring you coffee, Marvina?” I ask.

“I fetch for myself, thank you,” she answers.

“You know what I mean. What proof was there that it wasn’t someone at work?”

“The prosecutors don’t have to chase rabbits down every hole,” she answers. “And neither do we.”

She’s right about that, but fortified by this exchange, I tell my colleagues I’m going to vote to reverse. Thus we each turn to George Mason, who will functionally decide the case. A mannerly Virginian, George still retains soft traces of his native accent and is blessed with the white coif central casting would order for a judge. George is my best friend on the court and will succeed me as chief judge if, as widely anticipated, I win both the primary and the general election next year and move up to the state supreme court.

“I think it’s just inside the boundary,” he says.

“George!” I protest. George Mason and I have been at each other’s throats as lawyers since he showed up thirty years ago as the newly minted state defender assigned to the courtroom where I was the lead prosecutor. Early experience is formative in the law like everything else, and George sides with defendants more often than I do. But not today.

“I admit it would have been an NG if it was tried as a bench in front of me,” he says, “but we’re on appeal and I don’t get to substitute my judgment for the jury’s.”

This little tweak is aimed at me. I would never say it aloud, but I sense that Molto’s appearance, and the importance the PA places on the case, has moved the needle just enough with both of my colleagues. Yet the point is I’ve lost. That too is part of the job, accepting the law’s ambiguities. I ask Marvina to draft the opinion for the court. Still a little hot, she exits, leaving George and me to ourselves.

“Tough case,” he says. It’s an axiom of this life that, like a husband and wife who do not go to bed angry, judges of a court of review leave their disagreements in the impressions conference. I shrug in response, but he can tell I remain unsettled. “Why don’t you draft a dissent?” he suggests, meaning my own opinion, explaining why I think the other two got it wrong. “I promise I’ll look at the matter fresh when it’s on paper.”

I rarely dissent, since it’s one of my primary responsibilities as chief judge to promote harmony on the court, but I decide to take him up on his offer, and I head down to my chambers to begin the process with my law clerks. As chief, I occupy a suite the size of a small house. Off a large anteroom occupied by my assistant and my courtroom staff are two compact offices for my law clerks and, on the other side, my own vast work space, thirty-by-thirty and a story and a half high, with wainscoting of ancient varnished oak that lends my inside chambers the dark air of a castle.

When I push open the door to the large room, I find a crowd of forty or so people who immediately shrill out, “Surprise!” I am surprised all right, but principally by how morbid I find the recollection of my birthday. Nonetheless, I pretend to be delighted as I circle the room, greeting persons whose long-standing presence in my life makes them, in my current mood, as bleakly poignant as the messages on tombstones.

Both my son, Nat, now twenty-eight, too lean but hauntingly handsome amid his torrents of jet hair, and Barbara, my wife of thirty-six years, are here, and so are all but two of the other seventeen judges on the court. George Mason has arrived now and manages a hug, a gesture of the times with which neither of us is fully comfortable, as he hands me a box on behalf of all my colleagues.

Also present are a few key administrators on the court staff and several friends who remain practicing lawyers. My former attorney, Sandy Stern, round and robust but bothered by a summer cough, is here with his daughter and law partner, Marta, and so is the man who more than twenty-five years ago made me his chief deputy, former prosecuting attorney Raymond Horgan. Ray evolved from friend to enemy and back again in the space of a single year, when he testified against me at my trial and then, after my acquittal, put in motion the process that made me acting PA. Raymond again is playing a large role in my life as the chair of my supreme court campaign. He strategizes and shakes the money tree at the big firms, leaving the operational details to two she-wolves, thirty-one and thirty-three, whose commitment to my election seems about as deep as a hit man’s.

Most of the guests are or were trial lawyers, an amiable group by nature, and there is great bonhomie and laughter. Nat will graduate from law school in June and, after the bar, begin a clerkship on the state supreme court, where I, too, was once a law clerk. Nat remains himself, uncomfortable in conversation, and Barbara and I, by long habit, drift near from time to time to protect him. My own two law clerks, who do a similar job to the one Nat will be taking, assisting me in researching and writing my opinions for this court, have assumed less distinguished duty today as waiters. Because Barbara is perpetually ill at ease in the world beyond our house, especially in larger social gatherings, Anna Vostic, my senior clerk, serves more or less as hostess, pouring a dribble of champagne into the bottom of the plastic glasses that are soon raised for a lusty singing of “Happy Birthday.” Everyone cheers when it turns out I still am full of enough hot air to extinguish the forest fire of candles on the four-tier carrot cake Anna baked.

The invitation said no presents, but there are a couple of gags—George found a card that reads, “Congratulations, man, you’re 60 and you know what that means.” Inside: “No more khakis!” Below, George has inscribed by hand, “P.S. Now you know why judges wear robes.” In the box he handed over, there is a new death-black gown with braided golden drum major epaulets fixed at the shoulder. The mock finery for the chief inspires broad guffaws when I display it to the assembled guests.

After another ten minutes of mingling, the group begins to disperse.

“News,” Ray Horgan says in a voice delicate enough for a pixie as he edges past on his way out. A grin creases his wide pink face, but partisan talk about my candidacy is forbidden on public property, and as chief judge, I am ever mindful of the burden of being an example. Instead, I agree to come by his office in half an hour.

After everyone else is gone, Nat and Barbara and I and the members of my staff gather up the paper plates and glasses. I thank them all.

“Anna was wonderful,” says Barbara, then adds, in one of those bursts of candor my odd duck of a wife will never understand is not required, “This whole party was her idea.” Barbara is especially fond of my senior law clerk and often expresses dismay that Anna is just a little too old for Nat, who has recently parted with his long-term girlfriend. I join the compliments for Anna’s baking, which is locally famous in the court of appeals. Emboldened by the presence of my family, which can only mark her gesture as innocuous, Anna advances to embrace me while I pat her back in comradely fashion.

“Happy birthday, Judge,” she declares. “You rock!” With that, she’s gone, while I do my best to banish the startling sensation of Anna full against me from my mind, or at least my expression.

I firm up dinner plans with my wife and son. Barbara predictably prefers to eat at home rather than at a restaurant. They depart while the odors of cake and champagne linger sadly in the newly silent room. Sixty years along, I am, as ever, alone to deal with myself.

I have never been what anybody would call a cheerful sort. I’m well aware that I’ve had more than my fair share of good fortune. I love my son. I relish my work. I climbed back to the heights of respectability after tumbling into a valley of shame and scandal. I have a middle-aged marriage that survived a crisis beyond easy imagining and is often peaceful, if never fully connected. But I was raised in a troubled home by a timid and distracted mother and a father who felt no shame about being a son of a bitch. I was not happy as a child, and thus it seemed very much the nature of things that I would never come of age contented.

But even by the standards of somebody whose emotional temperature usually ranges from blah to blue, I’ve been in a bad way awaiting today. The march to mortality occurs every second, but we all suffer certain signposts. Forty hit me like a ton of bricks: the onset of middle age. And with sixty, I know full well that the curtain is rising on the final act. There is no avoiding the signs: Statins to lower my cholesterol. Flomax to downsize my prostate. And four Advil with dinner every night, because a day of sitting, an occupational hazard, does a number on my lower back.

The prospect of decline adds a special dread of the future and, particularly, my campaign for the supreme court, because when I take the oath twenty months from now, I will have gone as far as ambition can propel me. And I know there will still be a nagging whisper from my heart. It’s not enough, the voice will say. Not yet. All this done, all this accomplished. And yet, at the heart of my heart, I will still not have the unnameable piece of happiness that has eluded me for sixty years.


Excerpted from Innocent by Turow, Scott Copyright © 2010 by Turow, Scott. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Scott Turow's new novel is the dedicated fiction-reader's version of El Dorado: a driving, unputdownable courtroom drama/murder mystery that is also a literary treasure, written in language that sparkles with clarity and resonates with honest character insight. I came away feeling amazed and fulfilled, as we only do when we read novelists at the height of their powers. Put this one on your don't-miss list."
-Stephen King

Meet the Author

Scott Turow is the author of ten bestselling works of fiction, including Identical, Innocent, Presumed Innocent, and The Burden of Proof, and two nonfiction books, including One L, about his experience as a law student. His books have been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and have been adapted into movies and television projects. He has frequently contributed essays and op-ed pieces to publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.

Brief Biography

Chicago, Illinois
Date of Birth:
April 12, 1949
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
B.A. in English, Amherst College, 1970; M.A., Stanford University, 1974; J.D., Harvard University, 1978

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Innocent 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 340 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really a great read. I am sick and tired of people using the reviews for complaining about price. If you don't want to pay the price of the book then please go away. This is for reviews. Please B&N don't show them or figure them in the rating of the books. Seems some of the same people complaining about the price of this book do the same on the same day on multiple books. Enough of the complaining. TO VERY ANGRY---It's called writing or emailing B&N about your complaint. This place is for BOOK REVIEWS.
Odysseus-Redux More than 1 year ago
Scott Turow's novel 'Innocent' (2010) is the sequel to his 1987 novel 'Presumed Innocent.' In 'Innocent' (2010) Scott Turow still has the craft and high art of being the very best in creating a novel that is deeply layered and nuanced with the human complexities of intelligence, emotion, love, revenge, ambition, and power. Turow has the ability to paint a literary masterpiece of the theatre of the mind and the courtroom. The formatting of a timeline (by Turow - in the novel) of an alleged crime (murder) and review of context between the past and the 'present' adds to the novel's strength and drama. The theme of relentless pursuit, and the dance between prosecution (Tommy Molto) and defense (Rusty Sabich) is akin to Melville's 'Moby Dick' such that it is a tangled web we weave - with one another - in our lives. In Turow's novel, the 'law' can exonerate - but the 'truth' can be as deep and unfathomable as the ocean. Turow writes for the reader and not for Hollywood (but I can see the film being developed already - Harrison Ford are you ready?)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is a continuation of Turow's long ago "Presumed Innocent." While well-written, as are all of Turow's novels, it is bit confusing as it jumps back and forth through time. It also assumes that the reader will remember the original story.
JacksonvilleReader More than 1 year ago
Scott Turow is one author on my must buy list, so I was very much looking forward to this book. Unlike many other authors, Turow isn't a book mill (e.g., James Patterson), so it's a pleasure to have a new book to read. This was not a disappointment. I like the style of presenting the story from the perspective of the different characters. There were a number of instances where I saw things differently through the eyes of the various storytellers and just when I thought I had the conclusion nailed, a new twist would appear. This book made me want to go back and re-read Presumed Innocent which I read so many years ago. It also makes you think what would you do for love and how often have you stayed in an unhappy relationship thinking it was for the best? Thanks Mr. Turow! And I agree with other reviewers. Quit using this opportunity to whine about the cost of the book. If you don't like paying for a book regardless of format, there's always the libary.
LLAWEN More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book from start to finish and found the characters believable, the plot compelling and was delighted as I looked forward to finding time to read it which didn't take me long. I find that sometimes legal thrillers are either fun but not accurate or accurate but not fun; this was both. (I am a lawyer, and do try to overlook small things that don't work in the real legal world, but this book held up to scrutiny as well as having some great unexpected plot twists). Truly well done. I have only one question? Why did we have to wait so long for another of Mr. Turow's books? I look forward to his next one!
C_Johnson More than 1 year ago
Scott Turow's "Innocent" is masterful storytelling, a fitting follow up to his blockbuster "Presumed Innocent." Thane Rosenbaum's terrific review on Huffington Post persuaded me to read the book: "People consume the law as a cultural experience all the time and throughout the ages. Some of the great works of literature, from Sophocles to Shakespeare, Dickens to Dostoevsky, and Kafka to Camus, have inserted the law as the centerpiece of stories that often end in misery. After all, even the great Atticus Finch didn't prevail in his epic courtroom star turn. ... "Turow arguably not only ignited a cultural movement, he also invented the literary legal thriller--faithful in describing the inner workings of the legal system and honest in depicting lawyers as flawed human beings. Turow turned a spellbinding, page-turner into a work of art. "Many books followed his debut as a novelist, but the stunning conclusion of 'Presumed Innocent' invited a sequel, and Turow has now delivered just that with 'Innocent,' a timely, pitch-perfect updating of the lives of the characters we came to both loathe and love." Read the full review at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thane-rosenbaum/scott-turow-returns-with_b_558563.html. And, of course, read "Innocent" by Scott Turow!
jlocnm More than 1 year ago
I read Presumed Innocent in the 80's when it was published. Excellent book! Kept it all these years. When this sequel came out went back and reread Presumed Innocent, good move, then Innocent. Loved it, could not stop reading, great sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When a bestselling author returns to a book he wrote twenty years ago ("Presumed Innocent") and writes a sequel to it ("Innocent"), we wonder whether he might just have run out of new ideas. In Scott Turow's case, that wondering would be dead wrong. What Turow has done is lift the art of the sequel to new heights. Rusty Sabich, now a sitting appellate court chief judge, has been accused of murdering a second woman in his life and Tommy Molto, prosecuting attorney, is out to get him again, this time with a bigger grudge and bigger stakes. Both men are at the top of their careers and neither wants to lose the case, because the loser's life achievements would be forgotten in the media bloodbath that follows. But, Molto knows in his heart that Sabich was guilty the first time and got away with it. Sabich has secrets to hide and Sandy Stern is back as Rusty's lawyer, trying to keep his client from tossing away everything. Nat, Rusty's son, plays a pivotal role in this courtroom drama - no plot spoiler here, but it's a good one! Can a family ever recover from the fallout of a criminal case? Do the rifts caused by affairs ever heal? Do the children caught in the middle ever forget? Are people doomed to hold onto their flaws throughout life? As I lay awake through the night reading "Innocent," I was gripped with the questions: Did Sabich do it this time or didn't he? And.my mind began to doubt whether he really did do it in "Presumed Innocent" after all. Enough information is given about the case in "Presumed Innocent" to inform the reader, so this book can be a stand alone, but don't let it be. The first book was a genre breaker and a great read as well. If you can't find "Presumed Innocent" on the shelves anywhere, pick up a DVD of the Harrison Ford movie of the same name to catch the dynamics that drove the old rivalry between the major players.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most boring books I have read a a long time. Having enjoyed Presumed Innocent many years ago, I was looking forward to this book. Some was a rehash between Rusty and Tommy but that was about it. Page after page of Rusty being questioned by Tommy was a little too much for me.
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
Although this is the sequel to Presumed Innocent, it is not necessary to have read that one first in order to enjoy Innocent. The characters are reintroduced and fully explored. A major issue with the book is that it took me about 185 pages to get drawn into it completely, but after that, it grabbed me tight and did not let go. There were still more than 200 pages to go, so don't give up if that happens to you. Morality, knowing right from wrong, the ability to resist temptation and common sense judgment are qualities often absent from the personalities of the main characters. They apparently have a different definition depending on which side of the argument or question they are standing. The courtroom trial will truly hold your interest and illustrate how easy it would be, or perhaps is, to convict someone of anything, even murder, using only circumstantial evidence even when they are really not guilty as charged. Rather than being presumed innocent, in our system, the presumption really seems to overwhelmingly indicate that the defendant is guilty once the arrest has been made. The attorneys seem more interested in winning their case, using any means, sleight of hand, pretense, innuendo, accidentally exposing a piece of unallowable evidence, even evidence tampering, rather than seeing justice served. You will not guess the ending until it is revealed in the final pages of the novel. If the book had held my interest from the start, I would have given it 4, not 3 stars, because overall, if one can read patiently until drawn into the plot, I highly recommend this book. The twists and turns make it hard to put down once you pass that point of no return.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Over two decades ago then attorney Rusty Sabich was tried for murder, but though never proven either way was exonerated because the legal system Presumed Innocence. He has since become a Kindle County, Illinois chief appellate judge. When his mentally shaky wife Barbara dies in bed from apparent natural causes, his prosecuting attorney adversary back when he stood trial and now acting as chief prosecuting attorney Tommy Molto believes he has the SOB this time and goes after him with a vengeance. He encourages his chief deputy, Jim Brand, to go after the sexagenarian judge. Brand is already suspicious of Sabich because Rusty chose to conceal his overly medicated spouse's death from everyone including their legal scholar emotionally unstable son Nat, for nearly twenty-four hours; enough time for poison to vanish. Rusty has other complicating issues re his election to a higher court, an ethics charge, and his affair with his law clerk Anna Vostic This entertaining sequel once again explores what is truth and justice as each is relative terms dependent on the mind of the beholder. The story line looks deeps into what motivates Molto and Sabich who interpret the same incident 180 degrees apart. In many ways a psychological thriller rather than just a legal courtroom drama, readers will relish the return engagement as the lead pair are yin and yang burdened with six decades of baggage; as no one is purely Innocent. Harriet Klausner
bobbewig More than 1 year ago
Twenty yeas after Rusty Sabich and Tommy Molto went head-to-head in the shattering murder trial of Presumed Innocent, they find themselves pitted against each other once again in a riveting psychological match. When Sabich, now sixty years old and the chief judge of an appellate court, finds his wife dead under mysterious circumstances, Molto accuses him of murder for the second time, setting into motion a trial that is taut and explosive. What makes Innocent so good is not just the slow-building tension that culminates in a courtoom drama that is filled with twists and turns; its superiority relative to most legal genre thrillers stems from Turow's being an excellent novelist, irrespective of genre, with a gift for characterization, prose, dialogue and depth of psychological insight. Overall, my opinion of Innocent is the same as an earlier reviewer who said that if you've never read Presumed Innocent you'll think Innocent is a one of the smartest, twistiest, involving thrillers you've ever read; and if you have read Presumed Innocent, you'll be amzzed that Scott Turow was able to match, if not surpass, himself after all these years. If you're in the mood for a legal thriller that will keep your eyes glued to the page for its slow-building tension, intelligent plotting and excellent character development, then Innocent is a book I think you'll enjoy very, very much.
msjazz55 More than 1 year ago
I was drawn into Innocent as soon as I read the first few words. As soon as I saw Scott Turow on The Bill Maher Show, I went out the next day and bought "Innocent". Like so many others, I have been waiting for the sequel to come out. After a few chapters, I went back and watched "Presumed Innocent", one of my favorite movies. I have just started Innocent, on Chapter 15, and cannot wait to get back to it. Scott Turow is an amazing writer! I am going to read Burden of Proof as soon as I have finished Innocent. So sad "Judge L.L. Litel" Paul Winfield and "Sandy Stern" Raul Julia are no longer with us. Reading the book and then watching the movie again, made me a little sad.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
Rusty Sabich is back and is again arrested for murder; this time for his wife. Twenty years has passed and since Presumed Innocent and Tommy Molto still has it out for Rusty and does not want to see him slip though his fingers once again. I thought Innocent is a well-written courtroom drama that had me thinking what really happened and what will be revealed. Although, I surmised some of it, I was taken aback by the reasons. This new one from Scott Turow kept me enthralled until the end.
Trishinomaha More than 1 year ago
I read Presumed Innocent by Turow many years ago and loved it and so was anxious to read this one. I read the sample on my Nook which intrigued me and so I went ahead and bought it even though it was more than I like to pay for an e-book. This is one of the mostly loosely written, disjointed books I have ever tried to read. Each relatively short chapter is told by one of the main characters and jumps from the years 2007 and 2008 alternately. I had a hard time of keeping track of where we were. It's also just boring and slow, painfully slow moving. I got a little over 100 pages into it thinking I had to finish it but I don't think that's going to happen - I'll probably do what many of the reviewers did and just jump to the final chapter to see how it ended. You would have to be devoted to Scott Turow's works to get through this one. I've already been on the search for something else to read.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
No matter the price, Scott Turow's follow-up to Presumed Innocent is a good read. He keeps us guessing throughout, creates no real bad guys, but characters who you can understand if not root for. There are no explosions or serial killers, no kidnapping, no hostage negotiation, just the stuff the mystery reader has always liked. A truly good who-dunnit.
jstarr More than 1 year ago
If you want a story with rich character development, I would strongly recommend this book. Scott Turow understands how to write and he understands the legal system. When you put the two together, you have a book that makes you think personally and intellectually. This is a book that will make you stop and reflect on the characters and the story. I would, however, stronly recommend that you first read Presumed Innocence, by the same author. Innocent is the sequel and you need the background in the first novel to fully understand the characters. If you are looking at something more than a "quick read," this is definately a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Presumed Innocent, so I was very excited to read this book. I did read the reviews and was not bothered by the time shifts like many others, but the ending was disappointing. The book is well written; it takes many twists and turns that keep you guessing; so when the end came I was left saying "Is that it???" What a let down.
Neo-novelist More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the return of Rusty Sabich and his travails. Turow is a deft writer, and he keeps the thrills coming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who did it? Who did what? Excellent! Went from paperback to my Nook to speed going page by page. Great read...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book had some twists and turns enjoyed following up from Presumed Innocent
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Trying too hard to revise a former best seller that he so competely didnt get paramedics is less one of guilt but the early onset of dementia and let us hope an early retirement to write his memors. When all the reviewers say they had trouble following the first part of the book and needed a cheat sheet believe them and borrow