24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Presumed Innocent: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
I just read a review on this site that made me wonder if that reviewer and I had read the same book. Her obvious disappointment with the characters and plot was sad to read. "Presumed Innocent" was a fascinating read I thought. Rusty Sabich is accused of murdering his colleague and, unbeknownst to his accusers, his ex-lover. He tells his own story, and if Scott Turow is a lawyer first, his career as a writer must follow a very close second. First person narrators are barely to be believed if they are telling their own stories. The fragmented technique used by Turow to tell Rusty's story has two vital uses. First, it reflects the state of his mind: he narrates in vivid flashback and in first person present. Rusty is a fragmented man himself. He is emotionally fragile and is being pounded on by elements he feels he cannot control. Rusty believes that he was in love with the dead woman and for the kind of man that he unfolds into being, this is not at all difficult to accept. He makes himself out to be quite dispassionate, but all his actions reveal that he is very passionate and needs to be around people who are as well. Watch out for storytellers who are promising to be objective and truthful. They rarely ever are and more lie in what they say about situations and others than in what they say about themselves directly. Also, this is a wonderful technique to leave the reader wanting more. Turow does not protect his reader from harsh realities in the world of a prosecuting attorney: rape, murder and violent acts. The seemingly large number of characters do not detract from Rusty's story, as they all have their roles to play in the telling. Fragmented narrators seem to feel the need to describe a lot of people around them so as to deflect attention away from themselves and this happens here too. Yet, Turow manages to make all his characters interesting and colourful: Rusty's emtionally distant wife, his politricking boss, his sauve defence lawyer, the larger-than-life judge, the sexy, know-what-she-wants-and-how-to-get-it ex-lover. They all have their stories and very dark sides. Turow may be a "real" writer, but he is not an insensitive one. Barbara Sabich may not be very likeable, but her love for her son is without question, as is Rusty's gentle and intense devotion to their child. The strange kinship between Rusty and his best friend, Dan Lipranzer, is sweet, without being cloying, and it makes you hope to have a friend like that. Turow allows the story to unfold easily and naturally, not hurrying to let things happen, so he keeps the reader in suspense. The investigation into the murder reveals more about others than it does about the accused and when characters begin to become worried about exposure, the book picks up. Flashbacks into Rusty's early career are raw and not for those with a weak stomach. The trial scenes are clear and there is one scene where Rusty's lawyer goes after a pathologist that makes you want to cheer. The film, although sound, didn't do justice the novel and should be read, if just to fill in the blanks. the ending is truly a suprise for a first reader, and not just discovering whodunnit. Turow's novel flows easily, keeps the reader interested and is definately unputdownable.