Book Critique - Presumed Innocent (Kindle County #1)

For review of all books in the series, go here.

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A stunning crime thriller with hints of psychology of human mind and the devious direction it takes when played upon by emotions and moral values. 

Presumed Innocent is a legal thriller by Scott Turow, the first book in his Kindle County series, published in August of 1987. It is told as a first person narration by the lead character Rozat "Rusty" Sabich, about a prosecutor charged with murder of his colleague.

The novel had been made into a movie in 1990, three years after it was published, titled the same as the book, starring Harrison Ford as the protagonist, Rozat "Rusty" Sabich. In fact the producers bought the rights of the book even before it was published. After watching the movie, there was no doubt that that would have had happened. I was impressed by the twisting tale it depicted. So at a local library sale when I came across the book, I figured why not read the book as well. So, here's my take on the book that was the basis for the movie which I liked very much.

Carolyn Polhemus, a prosecutor at the District Attorney Raymond Horgan's office, is raped and murdered. Rusty Sabich, Raymond's right-hand man, is given the case to investigate. Little does he know that he would be digging his own grave by the time the case is solved.

Truly speaking I felt the book very lengthy and tedious to read. However, I kept on since it started getting interesting after almost a third of the book was finished. Plus, I wanted to see if the movie and book were on par.

Scott Turow in the narration goes back and forth between the past that Rusty shares with his psychiatrist and the present where Rusty is investigating the murder mystery, for the first part of the book. It took a few chapters for me to understand the pattern Turow was following with his narration.

Despite the long-winding narration by Turow, he does take the reader first through the investigation, then through the trial and finally the verdict and aftermath. He clearly demarcates them with seasons of the year giving us an idea of how long all this takes. And that it is not like in TV where in 45 mins a case is solved.

It so happens that I am currently taking a business law class where the professor has been explaining us about all the terms of a trial and a case. How coincidental that I am reading this book at the same time. The TV show Bull, which I started watching only because of the lead actor Michael Weatherly portraying the titular role, also explains in detail how a trial happens. 

Incidentally in this plot, Turow goes in detail to explain how a jury is selected and mentions that there are consultants who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars making predictions that would favor the side that want to win. Which again reminds me of how Bull and his company TAC handle the cases in the TV show. 

The whole "trial" part of the plot reminded me distinctly of Perry Mason books and TV series. Looks like Turow molded the defense attorney Sandy Stern around Else Stanley Gardner's famous attorney; and even the court trials emulate Mr. Garnder's way of writing. He is everything to Rusty what Perry Mason was for his clients in those books. 

Turow had penned a brilliant plot where the actual perpetrator is so silent yet boggles everyone's minds by their crazy and lunatic mind. No where we get to see this person out front either planning the crime, committing it or evading the punishment. Yet, when the person chooses to be presented it comes out as a shock and surprise to the readers. Not that Turow hadnt already given lots of surprises to the reader, but that was the ace in the hole. 

A stunning crime thriller with hints of psychology of human mind and the devious direction it takes when played upon by emotions and moral values. Without giving the reader any obvious scary or creepy stuff, Turow managed to make it very sinister with just words and motions. Brilliant debut novel for Turow in this series. Cant wait to read it's sequel soon.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Carolyn Polhemus has a teenage son, Marty Polhemus, with her ex-husband, Kenneth.

b. During the course of investigation, Rusty and Lip uncover a bribery scandal at the Prosecuting Attorney's office that had happened nine years prior to the year this plot is set in. Carolyn was investigating it five months prior to her murder. Although author Turow gives an ending to this scandal, I still feel that there is something in that which could make a plot for another book for him. Having not read the rest of the books in the series, cant say one way or the other if this sub-plot was further explored.

c. Even the investigation into Nico Della Guardia and Tommy Molto's mis-handling of the case is left somewhat incomplete. Perhaps was explored in other books in the series that I havent yet read. 

d. At the end of the book, Rusty and Barbara separate, but reconcile at one point. Have to see how long it will stay in his other books. 

e. Rusty gets appointed as "Acting Kindle County Prosecuting Attorney" as the plot closes. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Law Enforcement and Legal folks: John White (previous Chief Deputy); Ned Hasley (one of the prosecutors); Raymond Patrick Horgan (current Chief Deputy); Nico Della "delay" Guardia (deputy prosecutor and current opponent to Raymond in elections); Tommy Molto (second-in-command in the Homicide Section); Detective Dan Lipranzer; Lydia "Mac" MacDougall (chief administrative deputy); Moran (police chief); Lionel Kenneally (commander); Lou Balistrieri (Commander of Special Services); Detective Harold Greer; Mike Dolan (The Special Investigations Chief); 

b. Other people: Cody (Raymond's driver); Paul Dry (the mayor's staff); Augustine Bolcarro (mayor); Dr. Tatsuo "Ted" "Painless" Kumagai (police pathologist); Dr. Miles Robinson (psychiatrist); Eugenia Martinez (Rusty's secretary); Loretta (Raymond's secretary); Larren Lyttle (a judge); Mike Duke (managing partner at a firm) & Joe Reilly - friends of Raymond; Linda Perez (paralegal); Morrie Dickerman (fingerprint expert); 

c. Rozat "Rusty" Sabich's family: wife Barbara; son Nathaniel "Nat"; cousin Ilya;

d. Rusty's attorneys in his defense: Alejandro "Sandy" Stern (wife Clara); Quentin "Jamie" Kemp; Ned Berman (private investigator); 

3. Grammatical / Character / Location / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 141, Line 7, "Kemp" is mis-spelled as "Kamp"

b. On Pg. 165, Line 3 from bottom, there is a repeat of "to be".


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