Reversible Errors

( 23 )

Overview

A super-charged, exquisitely suspenseful novel about a vicious triple murder and the man condemned to die for it

Rommy "Squirrel" Gandolph is a Yellow Man, an inmate on death row for a 1991 triple murder in Kindle County. His slow progress toward certain execution is nearing completion when Arthur Raven, a corporate lawyer who is Rommy's reluctant court-appointed representative, receives word that another inmate may have new evidence that will ...

See more details below
Hardcover (First Edition)
$27.02
BN.com price
(Save 3%)$28.00 List Price
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (399) from $1.99   
  • New (47) from $1.99   
  • Used (352) from $1.99   
Reversible Errors: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - First Edition)
$7.99
BN.com price
Marketplace
BN.com

All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

A super-charged, exquisitely suspenseful novel about a vicious triple murder and the man condemned to die for it

Rommy "Squirrel" Gandolph is a Yellow Man, an inmate on death row for a 1991 triple murder in Kindle County. His slow progress toward certain execution is nearing completion when Arthur Raven, a corporate lawyer who is Rommy's reluctant court-appointed representative, receives word that another inmate may have new evidence that will exonerate Gandolph.

Arthur's opponent in the case is Muriel Wynn, Kindle County's formidable chief deputy prosecuting attorney, who is considering a run for her boss's job. Muriel and Larry Starczek, the original detective on the case, don't want to see Rommy escape a fate they long ago determined he deserved, for a host of reasons. Further complicating the situation is the fact that Gillian Sullivan, the judge who originally found Rommy guilty, is only recently out of prison herself, having served time for taking bribes.

Scott Turow's compelling, multi-dimensional characters take the reader into Kindle County's parallel yet intersecting worlds of police and small-time crooks, airline executives and sophisticated scammers—and lawyers of all stripes. No other writer offers such a convincing true-to-life picture of how the law and life interact, or such a profound understanding of what is at stake—personally, professionally, and morally—when the state holds the power to end a man's life.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
The verdict is in: Popular fiction rarely gets any better, or more involving, than Reversible Errors, Scott Turow’s profoundly satisfying legal thriller, which takes on the charged subject of death penalty litigation.

Set in Turow's familiar fictional venue of Kindle County, Illinois, the story concerns a pathetic, hard-luck career criminal named Rommy Gandolph, a.k.a. Squirrel. Convicted of a particularly vicious triple homicide, Rommy is 33 days away from certain execution. When a convicted criminal with terminal cancer comes forward with a story that casts doubt on Rommy's guilt, it soon becomes clear that more than Squirrel's life is at stake. On one side of the legal line stand ambitious deputy prosecutor Muriel Wynn and veteran homicide detective Larry Starczek, former lovers who were responsible for Rommy's original conviction and whose lives seem seem inextricably connected to this case. On the other side stands Arthur Raven, Rommy's plodding, colorless court-appointed defender. His work is complicated by an evolving friendship with Gillian Sullivan, the disgraced judge who presided over Rommy's initial trial. These four figures -- together with a brilliantly delineated gallery of supporting characters -- form the human center of a fiercely contested legal battle that will alter the destinies of everyone involved.

Turow's knack for convoluted plotting, ability to find drama in the most minute points of law, lively, observant prose, and flawless sense of character lift him into a league of his own when it comes to legal fiction. Reversible Errors -- a wonderfully resonant title -- is a account of love and redemption, crime and punishment, the intricacies of the legal system, the high cost of ambition, and the primal importance of our most basic human connections. Bill Sheehan

From the Publisher
"No one on the contemporary scene writes better myster-suspense novels than Scott Turow."

—Bill Blum, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"When Scott Turow writes about a milieu, he knows whereof he speaks. You know he made it up, but you also know it's real."

—George V. Higgins, Chicago Tribune

"Turow brings a literary sensibility to a grit-and-gravel genre: if he calls to mind any comparison, it's to John le Carre. His novels are shaped by [a] studied bleakness, an introspect's embrace of the gray-zone ambiguities of modern life."

—Gail Caldwell, The Boston Sunday Globe

"Turow is the class act of legal thriller writers."

Publishers Weekly

"Turow moves skillfully between past and present, revealing tiny tidbits of fact, circumstance, and motive as he goes and leaving it up to the reader not only to construct the story's linear progression but to understand the significance of the book's title as both a legal entity within its plot and a personal reality for its characters."

—Library Journal

Bill Blum
No one on the contemporary scene writes better mystery-suspense novels than Scott Turow.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
The New York Times Book Review
What Turow has done, in book after book, is to give us page turners that are also pleasing literary artifacts, mysteries that are also investigations into complicated social questions and complex human emotions.
Publishers Weekly
The sixth novel from bestseller Turow is a big book about little people in big trouble, involving the death penalty (one of the author's real-life legal specialties), procedural foul-ups and a cast of characters who exemplify the adage about good intentions paving the road to hell. Arthur Raven (a middle-aged, undistinguished lawyer taking care of a schizophrenic sister in a suburb of Chicago) lands a career-making case: the 11th-hour appeal of a quasi-retarded death row inmate, Rommy "Squirrel" Gandolph (accused of triple homicide a decade earlier), on new testimony by a terminally ill convict. Muriel Wynn, an ambitious prosecutor, and Larry Starczek, the detective who originally worked the case, are Raven's adversaries. Plot thickener: Wynn and Starczek are engaged in a longstanding, tortuous, off-again, on-again affair (both being unhappily married) that predates the crime, and which may have indirectly influenced the course of the original investigation. Arthur pulls in the original presiding judge from the case, Gillian Sullivan, just emerging from her own prison stretch for bribery (which masks an even darker secret) to assist him on the case, which leads to another tortuous affair on the defense's side. On top of this (Turow is well known for his many-layered narratives) is the dynamic among the criminals themselves: the dying con may be covering up for his wayward nephew, further muddying the legal waters. The first part of the book, which flips back and forth between the original investigation (1991) and the new trial (2001), is structurally the most demanding, but it is vital to the way in which Turow makes Rommy's case (as well as Arthur's and Muriel's). No character in this novel is entirely likable; all seek to undo some past wrong, with results that get progressively worse. Turow fans should not be disappointed; nor should his publisher.
Library Journal
Turow (Personal Injuries) has said that once he acquired a computer, he stopped developing stories in a linear fashion. His latest novel not only bears out that statement but provides a good example of using a nonlinear structure to build suspense and develop characters. Kindle County defense attorney Arthur Raven is appointed by the court to look into a case that was tried more than a decade ago. In the process, he is forced to revisit not only his client's past but his own. To portray the ever-shifting balance of legal issues in the case in tandem with changes in the characters' emotional and philosophical states during the intervening years, Turow moves skillfully between past and present, revealing tidbits of fact, circumstance, and motive as he goes and leaving it up to the reader not only to construct the story's linear progression but to understand the significance of the book's title as both a legal entity within its plot and a personal reality for its characters. Turow's work once again extends beyond the genre he helped create. Highly recommended.-Nancy McNicol, Whitneyville Branch Lib., Hamden, CT Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A final appeal from Death Row reopens a decade-old murder case as the world's preeminent legal novelist (Personal Injuries, 1999, etc.) proves once again why his grasp of the moral dimensions of legal problems sets the gold standard for the genre. The cops in Turow's home turf of Kindle County had no trouble solving the Fourth of July Massacre ten years ago because Romeo Gandolph "confessed to everybody but the Daily Planet," as his court-appointed appellate attorney Arthur Raven tells his junior associate Pamela Towns. But now, weeks from execution, Rommy's changed his story. Instead of pleading insanity to the shooting of popular restaurant owner Gus Leonidis and two customers, the acknowledged thief and fence suddenly insists he didn't do it. And improbable, nearly imperceptible cracks begin to appear in the mountain of evidence that aggressive prosecutor Muriel Wynn and her lover Larry Starczek, the lead detective on the case, amassed against Rommy. The DA's office, eager to keep their files tidy, never questioned key witnesses, came up with questionable forensics of one of the victims, and overlooked the possibility that Rommy may already have been in custody when the gun went off. This time around, as Arthur realizes, there's another defendant besides Rommy: Gillian Sullivan, the judge who found him guilty and sentenced him to death before her own conviction and sentence for bribery. Working with Gillian's unwilling help, Arthur manages to get a confession from a long-unsuspected source. Fans of Turow, however, will see this second confession as no more reliable than the first-except as a device to strip away still more layers of deception from troubled characters desperate to breakthe fragile alliances they were desperate to form. No car chases, explosions, threats against the detective, movie-star locations, or gourmet meals: just a deeply satisfying novel about deeply human people who just happen to be victims, schemers, counselors-at-law, or all three at once.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374281601
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/29/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,153,592
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 1.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Turow is the author of worldwide bestselling novels including Presumed Innocent, Innocent, Ordinary Heroes, The Burden of Proof, and Limitations. His works of nonfiction include One L, his journal from his first year at law school, and Ultimate Punishment, which he wrote after serving on the Illinois commission that investigated the administration of the death penalty and influenced Governor George Ryan’s unprecedented commutation of the sentences of 164 death row inmates on his last day in office. Ultimate Punishment won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He lives outside Chicago, where he is partner in the firm of SNR Denton (formerly Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal).

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.

Read More Show Less
    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

PART ONE

Investigation

1

APRIL 20, 2001

 

Attorney and Client

 

 

 

 

THE CLIENT, like most clients, said he was innocent. He was scheduled to die in thirty-three days.

Arthur Raven, his lawyer, was determined not to worry. After all, Arthur reasoned, he was not even a volunteer. Instead, he’d been drafted by the federal appellate court to ensure that after ten years of litigation, no sound arguments remained to save Rommy Gandolph’s life. Worrying was not part of the job.

He was worried anyway.

“I’m sorry?” asked Pamela Towns, his young associate, from the passenger’s seat. A gurgle of anguish had escaped Arthur as he had come, once again, face-to-face with himself.

“Nothing,” said Arthur. “I just hate being the designated loser.”

“Then we shouldn’t lose.” Pamela, with rosy good looks fit for TV news, flashed a bright coast-to-coast grin.

They were far from the city now, doing eighty on cruise control in Arthur’s new German sedan. In these parts, the road was so flat and straight, he did not even have to touch the wheel. The prairie farmlands raced by, corn stubble and loam, silent and eternal in the wan light of morning. They had left Center City at seven to beat the traffic. Arthur hoped to hold a brief introductory meeting with their new client, Rommy Gandolph, at the state penitentiary at Rudyard and to be back at his desk by two o’clock—or three, if he decided to risk asking Pamela to lunch. He remained intensely conscious of the young woman nearby, of the tawny hair falling softly on her shoulders, and of the hand that crept to her thigh every several miles to retract the hiking of her tartan skirt.

Eager as he was to please her, Arthur could offer little hope for the case.

“At this stage,” he said, “under the law, the only thing that could possibly amount to reversible error would be new evidence of actual innocence. And we’re not going to find that.”

“How do you know?” asked Pamela.

“How do I know? Because the man confessed to everybody but the Daily Planet.” Ten years ago, Gandolph had copped to the police, then gave a handwritten statement to the prosecutor, Muriel Wynn, and finally repeated his admissions on videotape. On each occasion, he had acknowledged he was the person who’d shot two men and a woman and left them in a restaurant food locker in a case still referred to, in the tempered words of the press, as ‘the Fourth of July Massacre.’

“Well, he kept saying on the phone he’s innocent,” said Pamela. “It’s possible, isn’t it?”

For Arthur, who had been a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney before coming to work seven years ago at O’Grady, Steinberg, Marconi and Horgan, there was no possibility of that at all. But Pamela, at twenty-five or twenty-six, had just started practice. Saving an innocent client was the sort of adventure she’d imagined in law school, riding like Joan of Arc toward radiant Justice. Instead, she’d settled for a big law firm and $120,000 a year. But why not have everything? Well, you couldn’t blame people for their fantasies. God knows, Arthur Raven realized that.

“Listen to what I found in Rommy’s probation records,” said Pamela. “On July 5, 1991, he was sentenced to time served for a violation of probation. The murders were early on July 4th. So ‘time served’ would mean he was in jail, wouldn’t it?”

“It would mean he was in jail at some point. Not necessarily on July 4th. Does his rap sheet show he was in jail on July 4th?”

“No. But it’s something to investigate, isn’t it?”

It would have been something to investigate a decade ago, when the records to prove it was nonsense still existed. Yet even at that, the federal appeals court was likely to grant Gandolph a brief stay of execution, during which Arthur and Pamela would be obliged to scramble in dogged—and futile—pursuit of this phantom theory.

Rankled by the prospect of more wasted time, Arthur nudged the cruise control wand a bit higher and felt some dim satisfaction in the big auto’s response. He had purchased the car two months ago as a trophy of sorts after he became a full partner in his law firm. It was one of the few luxuries he’d ever permitted himself, but he had barely turned the key when he began to feel he was disrespecting the memory of his father, who had recently passed, a loving man, but one whose eccentricities had included a cramped frugality.

“And listen to this,” Pamela was saying. She had withdrawn Rommy Gandolph’s rap sheet from the thick folder on her lap and read out the entries. Gandolph was a thief and a fence. He’d had half a dozen convictions—burglary, theft, possession of stolen property several times. “But nothing with a gun,” said Pamela. “No violence. No female victims. How does he suddenly become a rapist and a murderer?”

“Practice, practice, practice,” answered Arthur.

From the corner of his eye, he saw Pamela’s full mouth turn briefly downward. He was screwing this up. As always. Arthur did not know exactly what he had done wrong with women to leave him single at the age of thirty-eight. Appearance was one issue, he realized. He’d had the droop and pallor of middle age since his teens. In law school, he’d had a brief, hurtful marriage to Marjya, a Romanian immigrant. After that, for a period he’d seemed to have neither the inclination nor the time to start again. He had given so much to the law—so much fury and passion in every case, so many nights and weekends where he actually felt pleasure in having solitary time to concentrate. And his father’s declining health, and the question of what would become of his sister, Susan, had also been draining preoccupations for years. But now, seeking even the faintest sign that Pamela had some interest in him, he felt humbled by his foolishness. His hopes with her were as unlikely as hers for Gandolph. He felt the need to chasten them both.

“Look,” said Arthur, “our client, Gandolph. ‘Rommy’? Not only did Rommy confess early and often, but when he went to trial, his defense was insanity. Which requires his lawyer to admit Rommy committed the crime. Then we have ten more years of appeals, and post-conviction petitions, and habeas corpus proceedings, with two different sets of new attorneys, and none of them happens to mention that Rommy is the wrong man. Let alone Rommy, who only remembered that he didn’t do it when he was about forty-five days away from getting the needle. Really, Pamela. Do you think he told the lawyers before us he was innocent? Every con knows this game—new lawyers, new story.”

Arthur smiled, attempting to appear worldly-wise, but the truth was he’d never really accommodated himself to criminal defendants’ shenanigans. Since leaving the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Arthur had played defense lawyer infrequently, only when one of the firm’s corporate clients or its bosses was suspected of some financial manipulation. The law he lived most days as a civil litigator was a tidier, happier law, where both sides fudged and the issues raised were minuscule matters of economic policy. His years as a prosecutor seemed to be a time when he’d been assigned each day to clean out a flooded basement where coliform bacteria and sewer stink rotted almost everything. Someone had said that power corrupted. But the saying applied equally to evil. Evil corrupted. A single twisted act, some piece of gross psychopathology that went beyond the boundaries of what almost anybody else could envision—a father who tossed his infant out a tenth-floor window; a former student who forced lye down the throat of a teacher; or someone like Arthur’s new client who not only killed but then sodomized one of the corpses—the backflow from such acts polluted everyone who came near. Cops. Prosecutors. Defense lawyers. Judges. No one in the face of these horrors reacted with the dispassion the law supposed. There was a single lesson: things fall apart. Arthur had harbored no desire to return to that realm where chaos was always imminent.

In another fifteen minutes they had arrived there. Rudyard was a small town like many others in the Middle West, its core a few dark buildings, still smudged with coal soot, and several tin hangars with corrugated plastic roofs that housed various farm services. At the outskirts, a kind of mini-suburbanization was under way, with strip malls and tract homes, the result of the economic security afforded by an unusual anchor industry—the prison.

When they turned a corner on a movie-set neighborhood of maple trees and small frame houses, the facility suddenly loomed at the end of the block, like a horror-flick monster jumping out of a closet, a half-mile continuum of randomly connected yellow-brick buildings, notable for the narrowness of the few windows. Those structures in turn surrounded an old stone edifice stout enough to have survived from the Middle Ages. Toward the perimeter lay not only a ten-foot brick wall, but a graveled moat of projecting stainless steel spikes, and beyond that a boundary of cyclone fencing supporting five-foot spirals of razor wire, brilliant in the sun.

In the prison guardhouse, they signed in, then were directed to a worn bench for the long wait while Rommy was brought down. In the interval, Arthur reviewed Rommy’s letter, which had arrived via various intermediate hands at the Court of Appeals. It was composed in a hodgepodge scrawl, with multicolored markings and other features too irregular even to be called childish. Just looking at the letter, you knew that Rommy Gandolph was both desperate and crazy.

Dear Judge,

I am on DEATH ROW for a CRiMe I never CoMmitted. They Say I hAve had all my AppeeLs, and it’s all com out against me EVEN so I AM INNOCENT. the lawrs who had file my PC Over in the STate says they CaN’t represnt me now, on account of Fed laWs. what can I do? the day that I get my execution is sposed to be May 23!!!!. i can’t have a stay or nothin unless I have a habeus going, but I don’t have a Lawr do I. What can I do? can’t Somebody over there Help me? I’m going to be killed, and I never hurt no one, not in this case or any other time that I rember RighT noW. HELP ME. I DIDN’T KILL NO ONE ever!!!!!

The United States Court of Appeals had entered an order treating Rommy Gandolph’s correspondence as a successive petition for relief under the federal habeas corpus statute and appointing a lawyer for him—Arthur. Judges often waved their magic wand at random to turn some unwilling toad—a fully occupied lawyer—into a pro bono prince, with a demanding new nonpaying client whom the rules of court required he accept. Some might read the appointment as a compliment, the court asking a respected former state prosecutor to apply the legal equivalent of last rites. But it was an onerous addition to an already overburdened life.

Eventually Rommy’s name was called. Pamela and Arthur were patted down in the holding area, and then the first of many electronic bolts was shot and a door of bulletproof glass and iron crossbars clanked irrevocably behind them, as they followed a guard. It had been many years since Arthur had been inside the joint, but Rudyard in its own way was timeless. Not the procedures. The procedures, as he remembered them, seemed to change every few days. The authorities —the state legislature, the governor, the prison administration—were forever trying to improve discipline, to stop the in-flow of contraband, to control the gangs, to keep the inmates, veteran scammers, from scamming. There was always a new form to fill out, a new place to stow money, keys, cell phones—all the big-house forbiddens. Always another gate to get through, a new search procedure.

But the mood, the air, the people—they were eternal. The paint was fresh; the floors gleamed. No matter. They could scrub it as clean as they cared to. With so many people confined in such close quarters, with an open privy in every cell, the atmosphere was tainted with the smell of human waste and some larger effluvium, which on first breath vaguely sickened Arthur, much as it had years ago.

Down a low brick corridor they approached a door of green metal plating. On it was stenciled one word: ‘Condemned.’ Inside they were steered to the attorney’s room, which was not really one room but two, a space no more than five feet wide divided by a wall, which yielded halfway up to an arrangement like a teller’s drive-through window—a pane of glass, with a metal trough beneath to allow papers to pass. Although it violated every principle of attorney-client confidentiality, the correctional system had won the right to keep a guard posted in the corner on the prisoner’s side.

Behind the window was Rommy Gandolph, a brown-skinned wraith with a head of wild hair, swallowed in the loose folds of the yellow jumpsuit worn solely by inmates who’d been sentenced to death. His arms were shackled and thus he was required to reach with both hands for the phone that would allow him to converse with his lawyers. On their side, Arthur picked up the lone handset and held it between Pamela and himself while they introduced themselves.

“You-all the first real lawyers I had,” Rommy said. “Rest was state defenders. Think maybe I got a chance now I got real lawyers.” Rommy leaned close to the pane to explain his predicament. “I’m the next Yellow Man takin the walk, you know that? Everybody lookin at me already. Like somethin oughta be different cause I’m gone be dead so soon.”

Pamela bent at once toward the document passage and spoke encouraging words. They were going to get a stay of execution today, she promised.

“Yeah,” said Rommy, “cause I’m innocent, man. I ain kill’t nobody. I want that DMA test, man, see if I got any.” DNA, always the first thought these days, held no hope for Rommy because the state had never claimed he had left at the scene any identifiable genetic evidence —blood, semen, hair, tissue scrapings, even saliva.

Without warning, Gandolph sighted Pamela down the length of an extended finger.

“You pretty as you sounded on the phone,” he told her. “Think me and you oughta get married.”

Briefly arising, Pamela’s smile suddenly passed into eclipse, as it appeared to grow on her that Rommy was deadly earnest.

“Man gotta get married ’fore he die, right?” Rommy asked. “Ain that a good idea?”

Great, Arthur thought. Competition.

“You’n me get hitched up,” Rommy told her, “I can get a conjugal.”

Judging from her rigid posture, this was not part of Pamela’s vision of valiant representation. Arthur, who’d had no idea how to commence this interview, quickly picked up Judge Gillian Sullivan’s judgment and commitment order from 1992 that sentenced Rommy to death, and began reading it out loud.

“Auga-what? Who now?” asked Rommy Gandolph.

“Augustus Leonidis,” said Arthur.

“Am I knowin him?” asked Rommy. The lids twitched over his closed eyes as he made an effort to place the name.

“He’s one of the three,” said Arthur quietly.

“What three?”

“The three the state says you killed.” Confessed to killing, Arthur thought. But no need to put too fine a point on it at present.

“Mmm,” said Rommy. “Don’t think I knowed him.” Rommy shook his head, as if he’d missed a social call. Gandolph was nearing forty. He had a yellowish tinge to his eyes, and, by all appearances, the blood of the Americas in his veins. In contemporary parlance, he was ‘black,’ but there looked to be white and Indian and Hispanic in him as well. His hair was gnarled and uncut, and he was missing several teeth, but he wasn’t ugly. Craziness just seemed to have eaten the center out of him. Looking at Rommy’s eyes zag about like frenzied bugs near a light, Arthur held little doubt why his prior lawyers had focused on a psychiatric defense. As people commonly used the word ‘crazy,’ Rommy Gandolph without question was. Yet not crazy enough. Sociopathic. Borderline personality disorder, maybe even flat-out schizoid. But not thoroughly lost in the wilderness, not so entirely without a compass that he did not know wrong from right, which was what the law required for a defense.

“I’m not the kind to kill no one,” Rommy offered, as an afterthought.

“Well, you’ve been convicted of killing three people—Augustus Leonidis, Paul Judson, and Luisa Remardi. They say you shot them and left them in a food locker.” The state also said he’d sodomized Luisa after her death, although Rommy, most likely from shame, had refused to acknowledge that part. Judge Sullivan, however, who’d heard the case on her own, without a jury, had found him guilty on that count as well.

“I don’t know nothin ’bout that,” said Rommy. He looked askance then, as if that remark would close the subject. Arthur, whose sister, Susan, was even crazier than Rommy, tapped the glass to make sure Rommy’s gaze came back to him. With people like Rommy, like Susan, you sometimes had to hold their eye to get through.

“Whose handwriting is this?” Arthur asked mildly and pushed Rommy’s written confession under the glass. The guard jumped from his chair and demanded to see each page, front and back, to ensure nothing was concealed. Rommy studied the document for quite some time.

“What you think about stocks?” he asked then. “You ever own stock? What’s that like anyway?”

After a considerable interval, Pamela started to explain how the exchanges operated.

“No, I mean sayin you own stock. How’s that feel and all? Man, I ever get outta here, I wanna buy me some stocks. Then I’m gone get all that stuff on the TV. ‘Up a quarter.’ ‘Down Jones.’ I’m gone know what they-all on about.”

Pamela continued trying to outline the mechanisms of corporate ownership, and Rommy nodded diligently after every sentence, but was soon visibly astray. Arthur pointed again to the sheet Rommy held.

“The state says you wrote that.”

Rommy’s inky eyes briefly fell. “Tha’s what I was thinkin,” he said. “Lookin at it and all, I’d kind of said it was mine.”

“Well, that paper says you killed these three people.”

Rommy eventually leafed back to the first page.

“This here,” he said, “this don’t seem to make no sense to me.”

“It’s not true?”

“Man, that was so long ago. When was it this here happened?” Arthur told him and Rommy sat back. “I been in that long? What-all year has it got to anyway?”

“Did you write this confession for the police?” Arthur asked.

“Knowed I wrote somethin back there in that precinct. Ain nobody told me it was for court.” There was, of course, a signed Miranda warning in the file, acknowledging that any statement Rommy made could be used against him in just that way. “And I ain heard nothin ’bout gettin the needle,” he said. “Tha’s for damn sure. They was a cop tellin me a lot of stuff I wrote down. But I don’t recollect writin nothin like all of that. I ain kill’t nobody.”

“And why did you write down what the cop was saying?” Arthur asked.

“Cause I, like, dirtied myself.” One of the more controversial pieces of proof in the case was that Rommy had literally shit in his pants when the detective in charge of the case, Larry Starczek, had started to question him. At trial, the prosecution had been allowed to introduce Rommy’s soiled briefs as evidence of a consciousness of guilt. That, in turn, became one of the prominent issues in Rommy’s many appeals, which no court had managed to address without a snickering undertone.

Arthur asked if Larry, the detective, had beaten Rommy, denied him food or drink, or an attorney. Though rarely directly responsive, Rommy seemed to be claiming none of that—only that he’d written an elaborate admission of guilt that was completely untrue.

“Do you happen to remember where you were on July 3rd, 1991?” Pamela asked. Rommy’s eyes enlarged with hopeless incomprehension, and she explained they were wondering if he was in jail.

“I ain done no serious time ’fore this here,” answered Rommy, who clearly thought his character was at issue.

“No,” said Arthur. “Could you have been inside when these murders happened?”

“Somebody sayin that?” Rommy hunched forward confidentially, awaiting a cue. As the idea settled, he managed a laugh. “That’d be a good one.” It was all news to him, although he claimed in those days he was regularly rousted by the police, providing some faint support for Pamela.

Rommy really had nothing to offer in his own behalf, yet as they conversed, he denied every element of the state’s case. The officers who’d arrested him said they had found a necklace belonging to the female victim, Luisa Remardi, in Gandolph’s pocket. That, too, he said, was a lie.

“Them po-lice had that thing already. Ain no way it was on me when I got brought down for this.”

Eventually, Arthur handed the phone to Pamela for further questions. Rommy provided his own eccentric version of the sad social history revealed by his file. He was born out of wedlock; his mother, who was fourteen, drank throughout the pregnancy. She could not care for the boy and sent him to his paternal grandparents in DuSable, fundamentalists who somehow found punishment the meaningful part of religion. Rommy was not necessarily defiant, but strange. He was diagnosed as retarded, lagged in school. And began misbehaving. He had stolen from a young age. He had gotten into drugs. He had fallen in with other no-accounts. Rudyard was full of Rommys, white and black and brown.

When they’d been together more than an hour, Arthur rose, promising that Pamela and he would do their best.

“When you-all come back, you bring your wedding dress, okay?” Rommy said to Pamela. “They’s a priest here, he’ll do a good job.”

As Rommy also stood, the guard again snapped to his feet, taking hold of the chain that circled Rommy’s waist and ran to both his manacles and leg irons. Through the glass, they could hear Rommy prattling. These was real lawyers. The girl was gone marry him. They was gone get him outta here cause he was innocent. The guard, who appeared to like Rommy, smiled indulgently and nodded when Rommy asked permission to turn back. Gandolph pressed his shackled hands and their pale palms to the glass, saying loudly enough to be heard through the partition, “I ’preciate you-all comin down here and everything you doin for me, I really do.”

Arthur and Pamela were led out, unspeaking. Back in the free air, Pamela shook her slender shoulders in relief as they walked toward Arthur’s car. Her mind predictably remained on Rommy’s defense.

“Does he seem like a killer?” she asked. “He’s weird. But is that what a killer is like?”

She was good, Arthur thought, a good lawyer. When Pamela had approached him to volunteer for the case, he had assumed she was too new to be of much help. He had accepted because of his reluctance to disappoint anyone, although it had not hurt that she was graceful and unattached. Discovering she was talented had only seemed to sharpen his attraction.

“I’ll tell you one thing I can’t see him as,” said Arthur: “your husband.”

“Wasn’t that something?” Pamela asked, laughing. She was pretty enough to be untouched at some level. Men, Arthur recognized, were often silly around her.

They passed a couple of jokes, and still bantering, Pamela said, “I can’t seem to meet anyone decent lately, but this”—she threw a hand in the direction of the highway, far off—“is a pretty long trip to make every Saturday night.”

She was at the passenger door. The wind frothed her blondish hair, as she laughed lightly again, and Arthur felt his heart knock. Even at thirty-eight, he still believed that somewhere within him was a shadow Arthur, who was taller, leaner, better-looking, a person with a suave voice and a carefree manner who could have parlayed Pamela’s remark about her present dry spell with men into a backhanded invitation to lunch or even a more meaningful social occasion. But brought to that petrifying brink where his fantasies adjoined the actual world, Arthur realized that, as usual, he would not step forward. He feared humiliation, of course, but if he were nonchalant enough she could decline, as she was nearly certain to do, in an equally innocuous fashion. What halted him, instead, was the cold thought that any overture would be, in a word, unfair. Pamela was a subordinate, inevitably anxious about her prospects, and he was a partner. There was no changing the unequal footing or his leverage, no way Arthur Raven could depart from the realm of settled decency where he felt his only comfort with himself. And yet even as he accepted his reasoning, he knew that with women some obstacle of one kind or another always emerged, leaving him confined with the pangs of fruitless longing.

He used the gizmo in his pocket to unlatch Pamela’s door. While she sank into the sedan, he stood in the bitter dust that had been raised in the parking lot. The death of his hopes, no matter how implausible, was always wrenching. But the prairie wind gusted again, this time clearing the air and carrying the smell of freshly turned earth from the fields outside town, an aroma of spring. Love—the sweet amazing possibility of it—struck in his chest like a note of perfect music. Love! He was somehow exhilarated by the chance he had lost. Love! And at that moment he wondered for the first time about Rommy Gandolph. What if he was innocent? That too was an inspiration almost as sweet as love. What if Rommy was innocent!

And then he realized again that Rommy wasn’t. The weight of Arthur’s life fell over him, and the few categories that described him came back to mind. He was a partner. And without love. His father was dead. And Susan was still here. He considered the list, felt again that it added up to far less than he had long hoped for, or, even, was entitled to, then opened the car door to head back to it all.

Copyright © 2002 by Scott Turow

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(6)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 23, 2012

    Highly recommend

    If you are a Turo fan you will really like this book. Just imagine your favorite defense lawyer turning into a prosecuter. Keeps you going.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2005

    This is a great book by a truly great writer.

    This is a great book. I could not put tyhis sansational book down at all. Please buy a copy and 'READ IT!' I liked the beginning and what a bang up ending this is. Turow is truly in a class all by himself.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2004

    Not worth the 'hype'

    I bought this book because I had heard so much about it! The book was very disappointing, slow, bland characters, and never fully explained what was going on during the whole story. And the ending was terrrible.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2004

    Very slow start

    Gave up after 60 pages. BORING. Turow has gotten too soft. Seems to write without passion and appears to be getting paid by the word. I'm through with his works. Moving on.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2004

    Another Turrow trimph

    Scott Turrow's books aren't of the 'quick airport' sort. His characters are complex and flawed, as are we all. What seems 'obvious' - isn't. Yes, I found myself flipping back to the 'cast' of characters at the front of the book, and yes, it was a difficult book to get into initially; however, it was well worth the read. 'Reversible Errors' is yet another Turrow triumph.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2003

    Awfull !!!

    Awfull, Awfull, Awfull. This has been the worst book I've ever read. It took me a month to read it. Characters meant nothing and the plot was dead. The list of characters were listed at the beginning of the book. I had to refer to it all the time to understand who's who. I gave it one star because i read it, but I'll never buy another book by this author. Again , the worst book I've ever read. Don't buy it, you will be disappointed!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2003

    Disappointing

    The story only gets interesting at the end, and by then you've figured it all out on your own. Characters aren't that likeable, not sure who you should be rooting for--it's like they're all the 'bad guys'. The plot and the characters are not well developed. Certainly not Turow's best effort. Glad I received as a gift and did not have to pay for it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2003

    Will keep you guessing till the end...

    Scott Turrow's Reversible Errors is a classic example of a legal thriller every reader should get their hands on. It keeps the reader guessing till the very end making it extremely difficult to close the book without starting yet another chapter. It involves its readers in many ways. Most importantly, it motivates the reader to continue on with the legal battle to ensure that the truth comes out and that justice prevails. Arthur's personal struggles involving his schizophrenic sister and ex-convict, ex-judge girlfriend post interesting twists to the plot making the story even more common and easy to relate with. Nothing like an exciting legal thriller that'll keep you wanting and asking for more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2003

    A big disappointment

    This is certainly not Turow's best. None of the characters are likable or involving. The plot took too long to develop, and I disliked the ambiguous ending. I'm glad I didn't pay full price for this.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2003

    Not my favorite

    In depth,with strong characters...but give me John Grisham any day of the week!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2003

    An idea that needed telling

    Excellent argument, non-conclusive, but a good argument on the death penalty. I thought the character development was excellent. The court room dialog is some of the best.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2002

    Disappointed

    I was not impressed....

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2002

    Page 167 and I dont think I can make it through

    Well, I started the book abt a week ago if it is good i stay up all nite reading it but man o man i just cant get into. I put it back on the shelf and starting Four blind mice by patterson

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2002

    great characterization

    Scott Turow writes a legal thriller as well as anyone with unpredictable twists and turns that leave the reader guessing. What Turow does better than anyone in the genre is write about people. The parallel relationships depicted in this book between Arthur and Jillian and Larry and Muriel were masterful. All four characters were flawed, all four had their strengths. All four were unashamedly human. I enjoyed this book a lot, but I recognize it is not for the person looking for a quick, mindless read. There is a lot of depth and a lot of human understanding in this Turow effort.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2002

    Not his Best Work

    I literally forced myself to plod through this latest book by Scott Turow. His well-intentioned plot just never hit the mark!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2002

    For what it's worth here's a review

    I started this book right after finishing Personal Injuries (also by Turow). I think both books are good reads. As an attorney, I like the way Turow uses his keen intellect to intertwine his legal knowledge into such thrillers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2002

    Excellent, intelligent thriller

    What a great book! Turow's books are the best technical legal thrillers out there. This book may not have the general appeal of John Grisham's books, but it is so much better!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2002

    Irreversibly Entertaining

    Good premise, good characters, good story. Makes good points about death penalty. Turow has it all over John Grisham, who gets progressively worse with each book he writes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2002

    TOM BENIGNO AUTHOR OF THE CONFESSION

    TUROW, NOT GRISHAM, STARTED IT ALL FOR LEGAL THRILLER WRITERS. HE IS THE KING AND PROVES IT RIGHT HERE. SUSPENSE AT ITS BEST. TOM BENIGNO, AUTHOR OF THE CONFESSION

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2002

    Worth The Wait!

    Plain and simple, Reversible Errors is worth the wait. Compelling, intriguing, and a great thriller. I loved it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)