Presumed Innocent

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Overview

Scott Turow's #1 runaway bestseller comes to theaters everywhere as a major motion picture from Warner Bros., starring Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Raul Julia, and Bonnie Bedelia, directed by Alan Pakula, best known for his award-winning work in "Klute".

Scott Turow's novel of betrayal, murder and corruption tells the story of a man who puts everything he loves on trial--including his own life.

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Overview

Scott Turow's #1 runaway bestseller comes to theaters everywhere as a major motion picture from Warner Bros., starring Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Raul Julia, and Bonnie Bedelia, directed by Alan Pakula, best known for his award-winning work in "Klute".

Scott Turow's novel of betrayal, murder and corruption tells the story of a man who puts everything he loves on trial--including his own life.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Gale Research
Turow told Publishers Weekly that his book is "a comment on the different kinds of truth we recognize. If the criminal-justice system is supposed to be a truth-finding device, it's an awkward one at best. There are all kinds of playing around in the book that illuminate that, and yet by the same token, the results in the end are just. And that's not accidental. . . . Absolutely everybody in the novel is guilty of something. That's a truth of life that I learned as a prosecutor. We all do things we wish we hadn't done and that we're not necessarily proud of."

Fellow attorney-turned-author George V. Higgins notes in the Chicago Tribune that Presumed Innocent is a "beautifully crafted tale. . . . Packed with data, rich in incident, painstakingly imagined, it snags both of your lapels and presses you down in your chair until you've finished it." Likewise, Toronto Globe & Mail correspondent H. J. Kirchhoff contends that the novel is "surprisingly assured," adding: "The prose is crisp and polished, every character is distinct and fully realized, and the dialogue is authentic. Turow has blended his experience in the rough-and-tumble of the criminal courts with a sympathetic eye for the vagaries of the human condition and an intimate understanding of the dark side of the human soul." Jeff Shear concludes that the criminal- justice system Presumed Innocentportrays, "without tears or pretense, has seldom appeared in literature quite like this."

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chicago defense attorney Turow, formerly a U.S. prosecutor, capitalizes on his intimate knowledge of the courtroom in an impressive first novel that matches Anatomy of a Murder in its intensity and verisimilitude. With the calculating genius of a good lawyer (and writer), Turow, author of the nonfiction One L, draws the reader into a grittily realistic portrait of big city political corruption that climaxes with a dramatic murder trial in which every dark twist of legal statute and human nature is convincingly revealed. The novel's present tense puts the reader firmly in the mind of narrator Rusty Sabich, a married prosecuting attorney whose affair with a colleague comes back to haunt him after she is brutally raped and murdered. Sabich's professional and personal lives begin to mingle painfully when he becomes the accused. His is a gripping and provocative dilemma: ``Sitting in court, I actually forget who is on trial at certain moments. . . . And once we get back to the office, I can be a lawyer again, attacking the books, making notes and memos.'' Turow's ability to forge the reader's identification with the protagonist, his insightful characterizations of Sabich's legal colleagues and the overwhelming sense he conveys of being present in the courtroom are his most brilliant and satisfying contributions to what may become a literary crime classic. 125,000 first printing; $125,000 ad/promo; movie rights to Sidney Pollack; Literary Guild dual selection; author tour. (July 15)
The New York Times
"Spellbinding...The suspense is relentless...Surprise follows surprise...The work of a profoundly gifted writer"
From the Publisher
"Spellbinding...The suspense is relentless...Surprise follows surprise...The work of a profoundly gifted writer"—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446114318
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/1/1991

Meet the Author

Scott Turow is a writer and attorney. He is the author of seven best-selling novels: Presumed Innocent (1987), The Burden of Proof (1990), Pleading Guilty (1993), The Laws of Our Fathers (1996), Personal Injuries (1999), Reversible Errors (2002) and Ordinary Heroes (2005). A novella, Limitations, was published as a paperback original in November 2006 by Picador following its serialization in The New York Times Magazine. His works of non-fiction include One L (1977) about his experience as a law student, and Ultimate Punishment (2003), a reflection on the death penalty. He frequently contributes essays and op-ed pieces to publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Playboy and The Atlantic. Mr. Turow's books have won a number of literary awards, including the Heartland Prize in 2003 for Reversible Errors and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 2004 for Ultimate Punishment and Time Magazine's Best Work of Fiction, 1999 for Personal Injuries. His books have been translated into more than 25 languages, sold more than 25 million copies world-wide and have been adapted into one full length film and two television miniseries.

Biography

In addition to writing cinematic legal thrillers like Presumed Innocent (1987), Reversible Errors (2002), and Limitations (2006), lawyer Scott Turow has also drawn upon his personal and professional experience for thought-provoking nonfiction that includes One L (1977), an account of his freshman year at Harvard Law, and Ultimate Punishment (2003), a reflection on capital punishment. His essays and op-ed pieces have appeared in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and other distinguished publications. In 2005, he forayed into historical fiction with Ordinary Heroes, an emotionally resonant novel inspired by his father's experiences in World War II. A practicing attorney with experience in both civil and criminal law, Turow has become involved in extensive pro bono work on death penalty cases.

Good To Know

Turow rarely writes his novels in a linear fashion from beginning to end. Instead, he sketches out individual scenes and then figures out where they fit into the grand scheme of a story.

Turow may be a bestselling author who has sold roughly 25 million books worldwide, but this crusading attorney has yet to give up his day job!

Don't let that "F" on your report card deter you from a writing career; just look at Turow, who flunked freshman English in high school, but whose shelves are currently lined with literary awards.

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

Read an Excerpt

Presumed Innocent


By Scott Turow

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Copyright © 1987 Scott Turow
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-374-23713-1


Chapter One

I should feel sorrier," Raymond Horgan says.

I wonder at first if he is talking about the eulogy he is going to deliver. He has just looked over his notes again and is returning two index cards to the breast pocket of his blue serge suit. But when I catch his expression I recognize that his remark was personal. From the rear seat of the county's Buick, he stares through the auto window toward the traffic thickening as we approach the South End. His look has taken on a meditative cast. As I watch him, it strikes me that this pose would have been effective as The Picture for this year's campaign: Raymond's thick features fixed in an aspect of solemnity, courage, and a trace of sorrow. He shows something of the stoic air of this sometimes sad metropolis, like the soiled bricks and tarpaper roofs of this part of town.

It is a commonplace among those working around Raymond to say he does not look well. Twenty months ago he split with Ann, his wife of thirty years. He has picked up weight and a perpetual grimness of expression which suggests he has finally reached that time of life when he now believes that many painful things will not improve. A year ago the wagering was that Raymond did not have the stamina or interest to run again, and he waited until four months before the primary to finally announce. Some say it was addiction to power and public life that made him proceed. I believe the chief impulse was Raymond's outright hatred of his primary opponent, Nico Delia Guardia, who was until last year another deputy prosecuting attorney in our office. Whatever the motivation, it has proved a difficult campaign. While the money lasted, there were agencies involved and media consultants. Three young men of dubious sexuality dictated as to matters such as The Picture, and saw to it that this image of Raymond was applied to the backside of one in every four buses in the city. In the picture he has a coaxed smile, meant to show a toughened whimsy. I think the photograph makes him look like a kind of sap. It is one more sign that Raymond has fallen out of step. That is probably what he means when he says he should feel sorrier. He means that events seem to be slipping past him again.

Raymond goes on talking about Carolyn Polhemus's death three nights ago, on the first of April.

"It's as if I can't reach it. I have Nico on one side making out like I'm the one who murdered her. And every jackass in the world with press credentials wants to know when we're going to find the killer. And the secretaries are crying in the johns. And in the end, you know, there's this woman to think about. Christ, I knew her as a probation officer before she graduated law school. She worked for me, I hired her. A smart, sexy gal. A helluva lawyer. And you think about it eventually, you know, the actual event - I think I'm jaded, but Jesus. Some cretin breaks in there. And that's how she ends up, that's her au revoir? With some demented slug cracking her skull and giving her a jump. Jesus," Raymond says again. "You can't feel sorry enough."

"No one broke in," I finally say. My sudden declarative tone surprises even me. Raymond, who has momentarily resumed his consideration of a lapful of papers brought along from the office, rears his head and fixes me with an astute gray eye.

"Where do you get that from?"

I am slow to answer.

"We find the lady raped and bound," says Raymond. "Off-hand, I wouldn't be starting off my investigation with her friends and admirers."

"No broken windows," I say, "no forced doors."

At this point Cody, the thirty-year copper who is living out his last days on the force by driving Raymond's county car, breaks into the conversation from the front seat. Cody has been unusually quiet today, sparing us the customary reverie about the burn deals and good pinches he has witnessed in gross on most city avenues. Unlike Raymond - or, for that matter, me - he has no difficulty bringing himself to sorrow. He appears to have been without sleep, which gives his face an edge of roughened grief. My comment about the condition of Carolyn's apartment has stirred him for some reason.

"Every door and window in the joint was unlocked," he says. "She liked it that way. The broad was living in wonderland."

"I think somebody was being clever," I tell them both. "I think that's misdirection."

"Come on, Rusty," Raymond says. "We're looking for a bum. We don't need fucking Sherlock Holmes. Don't try to get ahead of the murder dicks. Keep your head down and walk in a straight line. Okay? Catch me a perpetrator and save my worthless ass." He smiles at me then, a warm, savvy look. Raymond wants me to know he is bearing up. Besides, there is no need to further emphasize the implications of catching Carolyn's killer.

In his reported comments about Carolyn's death, Nico has been base and exploitative and relentless. 'The prosecuting attorney's lax approach to law enforcement for the last twelve years has made him the accomplice of the city's criminal elements. Even the members of his own staff are no longer safe, as this tragedy illustrates.' Nico has not explained how his own hiring by Raymond as a deputy P.A. more than a decade ago fit into Raymond's liaison with lawlessness. But it is not the politician's lot to explain. Besides, Nico has always been shameless in his public conduct. That is one thing that made him ripe for a political career.

Ripe or not, Nico is widely expected to lose the primary, now eighteen days away. Raymond Horgan has wowed Kindle County's one and a half million registered voters for better than a decade. This year he is yet to win the party endorsement, but that is largely due to an ancient factional dispute with the mayor. Raymond's political people - a group that has never included me - believe that when the first of the public polls are published in the next week and a half, other Party leaders will be able to force the mayor to reverse field, and that Raymond will be safe for another quadrennium. In this one-party town, victory in the primary is tantamount to election.

Cody turns back from the front seat and mentions that it is getting close to one. Raymond nods absently. Cody takes this for assent and reaches below the dash to let the siren go. He uses it in two brief spells, almost like punctuation in the traffic, but the cars and trucks part neatly and the dark Buick noses ahead. The neighborhood here is still marginal - older shingle-sided houses, splintering porches. Kids with a kind of potato-y pallor play with balls and ropes at the edge of the street. I grew up about three blocks from here, in an apartment over my father's bakery. I recall them as dark years. During the day my mother and I, when I was not in school, helped my father in the shop. At night we stayed in one locked room while my father drank. There were no other children. The neighborhood today is not much different, still full of people like my father: Serbians, as he was; Ukrainians, Italians, Poles - ethnic types who keep their peace and their own dim outlook.

We are stopped dead in the heavy traffic of Friday afternoon. Cody has driven up the back end of a city bus, which emits its noxious fumes with an intestinal rumble. A Horgan campaign poster is right there, too, and Raymond looks out overhead, six feet wide, with the hapless expression of a TV talk-show host or the spokesman for some canned cat food. And I cannot help myself. Raymond Horgan is my future and my past. I have been a dozen years with him, years full of authentic loyalty and admiration. I am his second-in-command, and his fall would be my own. But there is no silencing the voice of discontent; it has its own imperatives. And it speaks now to the image overhead in a sudden forthright way. You sap, it says. You are, it says, a sap.

As we turn down Third Street, I can see that the funeral has become an important event for the police department. Half the parked cars are black-and-whites, and there are cops in pairs and threes moving up and down the walks. Killing a prosecutor is only one step short of killing a cop, and whatever the institutional interests, Carolyn had many friends on the force - the sort of loyal lieges a good P.A. develops by appreciating skilled police work and making sure it is not squandered in court. Then, of course, there is the fact that she was a beautiful woman and one of modern temperament. Carolyn, we know, got around.

Nearer the chapel the traffic is hopelessly congested. We stutter only a few feet before waiting for the cars ahead to disgorge passengers. The vehicles of the very important - limousines with official plates, press people looking for spaces nearby - clog the way with bovine indifference. The broadcast reporters in particular obey neither local ordinance nor the rules of common civility. The Minicam van of one of the stations, complete with its rooftop radar dish, is parked on the sidewalk directly in front of the open oak doors of the chapel, and a number of reporters are working the crowd as if they were at a prizefight, thrusting microphones at arriving officials.

"Afterward," Raymond says, as he bulls through the press horde that encircles the car as soon as we finally reach the curb. He explains that he is going to make some remarks in eulogy which he will repeat again outside. He pauses long enough to pet Stanley Rosenberg from Channel 5. Stanley, as usual, will get the first interview.

Paul Dry, from the mayor's staff, is motioning to me. His Honor, it seems, would like a word with Raymond before the service begins. I relay the message just as Horgan is pulling free of the reporters. He makes a face - unwisely, for Dry can certainly see it - before he walks off with Paul, disappearing into the gothic dark of the church. The mayor, Augustine Bolcarro, has the character of a tyrant. Ten years ago, when Raymond Horgan was the hot face in town, he almost ran Bolcarro out of office. Almost. Since losing that primary, Raymond has made all the appropriate gestures of fealty. But Bolcarro still feels the ache of his old wounds. Now that it is, at last, Raymond's turn to endure a contested primary, the mayor has claimed that his party role demands neutrality and he has designed to withhold the party's endorsement as well. Clearly he is enjoying watching Raymond struggle on his own toward shore. When Horgan finally hits the beach, Augie will be the first to greet him, saying he knew Raymond was a winner all along.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow Copyright © 1987 by Scott Turow. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 64 )
Rating Distribution

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(25)

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(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 64 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 4, 2012

    Best of both worlds

    This could have been two novels--the man obsessed with his former co-worker and mistress, or a fast-paced summer read mystery. The fact that Scott Turow pulled off both and put them together makes it understandable why this book was so successful on its first release. I really was expecting to breeze through it, like most mysteries out there that are so popular, but was surprised at how long the book was, comparatively. And, I did not expect the rich inner life of Rusty, and how he dealt with everything going on. I also did not predict whodunit. I love being surprised about those kind of things. The detail, the length of flashbacks, explanations, obsessing, lent so much to the mystery that one really invested in the characters. Most of the time, in mysteries, things just happen, and you race through the pages waiting for the next visceral thrill. You are excited, and your pulse races, but, when the book is over, you have nothing left to do, but come down from the thrill. At the end of Presumed Innocent, I felt how I do after a novel, wondering about the future of the characters, their families' + that pulse-racing thrill. It's a combination hardly ever experienced in popular thrillers. I can't wait to read the next Kindle County mystery.
    My only qualms is that, it's not for those who want a quick mystery read, and some might think the book couldn't make up its mind. Also, all the "faggot" and "queer" jokes are a little jarring, until you realize it was written in 1988. Enjoy

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2012

    Good reading.

    I love mysteries and "who-done-it" novels, and this one kept me guessing for most of the book. The story line was good, but the way it is written takes a bit of concentration to keep characters straight in the beginning. There is some pretty graphic writing with some of the scenes that I didn't find necessary to make the story interesting. On my personal scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate this one a 7.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Gripping and classic legal thriller!

    I first read Presumed Innocent almost fifteen years ago. I'd been thinking of going to law school and Presumed Innocent is on the list of books that many law schools send you the summer before you begin studying. I remember thinking that the book spent more time on legal technicalities than the other thrillers that I'd read. Reading Presumed Innocent with an eye to joining the profession gave it a certain air as well.

    Now after years as an entirely different sort of lawyer, the detective work, legal technicalities and procedural law aspects continue to delight me. Though I've read the book and watched the movie and am vaguely aware that a twist is sure to come, Presumed Innocent draws me in as though it were completely new. Scott Turow's writing remains fresh and engaging.

    Other reviewers have mentioned that the book has lost its impact for them, that they're not as impressed by it years later. I have a very different reaction to the book -- years later and after close to 15 years studying and practicing law, I find that Presumed Innocent has grown to be even more gripping and entertaining. Though you might have expected me to figure out the ending given that I'd read the book before and seen the movie, but the enjoyment comes from how Turow built up the suspense and described the trial. It's the execution of the concept that makes Presumed Innocent a legal thriller that will last for years to come. I'm very much looking forward to reading Turow's next book Innocent that comes out on May 4, 2010.

    ISBN-10: 0446676446 - Paperback
    Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (December 1, 2000), 512 pages.
    Review copy provided by the publisher.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    kept me glued till the end

    the description of the human condition we all know but rarely give words was fantastic and hideous to read. the ending was fresh and chilling.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    TUROW SPINS HIS MAGIC

    PRESUMED INNOCENT
    Scott Turow
    Grand Central Publishing
    ISBN: 987-0446-35986-3
    464 pages
    $7.99 - Paperback
    Reviewer: Annie Slessman

    Originally published in 1987, PRESUMED INNOCENT by Scott Turow can stand the test of time. It is a thrilling account of a Deputy District Attorney who finds himself on the opposite side of the table as a defendant who is fighting a murder charge.

    Turow takes his time with his character introduction and then leads a reader into the complex mystery of who killed Carolyn Polhemus, a Deputy District Attorney. Carolyn is known in the legal community as a tough prosecutor who has a penchant for sharing her bed with multiple men. Her ambition and affairs come to light when another prosecutor is brought to trial for her death. The story becomes one that takes a reader through the inner workings of the legal system, the frail threads that binds human nature, and the conscious that plagues each and everyone of us on a daily basis.

    It is a story well told with an ending that is neither obvious nor complacent. A reader is left with an I-Don't-Believe-It impression that will send them to the bookstore to buy Turow latest mystery, INNOCENT, published in May 2010.

    Turow is a writer and attorney with seven best selling novels to his credit.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2006

    Beautifully written, Turow has a command of the English language

    This book is much more than a legal thriller. MUCH more. Turow delves into the depths of the human soul, ripping his characters apart and showing utter vulnerability and realism. The best parts of this novel to me were not the legal procedings, although they are definitely entertaining. I was more captivated by the lengthy moments of self reflection by the main character Rusty Sabich, as well as his ability to describe the motives behind each character with such psychological simplicity. Read it and you'll see what I'm talking about.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2005

    Captivating!

    This book truly was a captivating story. I enjoyed it very much, and it had me guessing to the end. Did he do it, or didn't he? You'll just have to read for yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2003

    Incredible Reading; Turow is a Master of his craft.

    This novel is gripping and original,one of the best crime-drama novels I have ever read.It keeps you glued to the pages, reading and reading until atlast you learn the truth. Speaks highly of the cunning abilities of women, also and how their craftiness is often overlooked.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2002

    One of the all time greatest legal thrillers

    You have to read this book. You will be shocked by the ending. It keeps you guessing right up until the last page. A classic 'whodunnit' This author is in a class by himself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2002

    One of the greatest books I have ever read.

    I loved this book. Although it isn't exactly a page turner, there is something that keeps you interested until the end. The ending is a shocker.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2000

    No Presumptions Necessary

    What a wonderful book! What characterizes this novel is Turow's careful attention to detail and his fine characterizations. Rusty Sabich, is a three dimensional character. Even the minor characters are interesting. Far superior to other novels in this genre, I highly recommend this book. Fine writing and thoughtful characterization is melded with edge-of-your-seat suspense and a thought provoking ending. I was also fascinated by the intricate workings of the criminal defense process. Mr. Turow has obviously been there and he give us a ring-side seat. Excellent!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2000

    Very interesting after you wade through the beginning.

    Scott Turow is obviously a brilliant writer (a little too smart for his own good) and this book is interesting. If you're an intellectual who is tired of the Southern idiom in Grisham's books, and you like courtroom drama, Turow is for you; however, the switching of names, sometimes using the first and sometimes using the last, was confusing. Also, brace yourself for one major disappointment where Turow cheats. Throughout the book, the reader sees from the main character's point of view. The main character is incredibly perceptive but never lets the reader inside his head to see who the murderer was. Only at the end, is the murderer revealed. This 'trick' reminds me of cheap movies that only show the murderer's feet, hiding his face, to artifically create suspense.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Excellent Legal Read

    I read this and Innocent by same author. Both were excellent. I look forward to reading more of his books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2013

    Yikes

    OMG!!! This book is SO boring!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Well written and very entertaining book

    I enjoyed reading this book very much. The story was very well written building on great characters. A master mystery thriller that anyone who likes this genre should defenately read.

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  • Posted February 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Bland and overhyped!

    I’ve read that Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent was a classic and can’t miss read. After finding it at a library sale I had a chance to see if I agreed with popular opinion and to be blunt, I do not. I struggled immensely to et into this book. The characters were bland and the writing style was off-putting. I couldn’t even finish the novel. While I’m not proud of that, because that is rarely the case for me, that does illustrate how much of a let down this book was to me. Overall, definitely overhyped and not worth the effort.

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  • Posted March 2, 2011

    Interesting but Trashy

    interestig peremise but trashy delivery

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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