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Book Critique - Innocent (Kindle County #8)

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

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A well-written crime thriller with hints of psychology of human mind and the devious direction it takes when played upon by emotions and moral values. However, it felt repetitive with its prequel. Yet a good pick for anyone interested in court room trials.

Innocent is the eighth book in the Kindle County series, a legal thriller by Scott Turow, published in December of 2005. It forms a sequel to the very first book, Presumed Innocent, in the series, although was written 7 books later. The plot follows Rozat "Rusty" Sabich involved in another murder case twenty years after the first one he was indicted and acquitted for. 

When I bought Presumed Innocent at the library sale, I found Innocent also right beside it. However, I assumed that this was the immediate sequel. Until I started reading the books, I didn’t know that this was the written seven books after the first one was written. Anyways, here's my review of this book.

Rozat "Rusty" Sabich is now Chief Judge, at the State Court of Appeals for the Third Appellate District. And when his wife Barbara dies unexpectedly, his nemesis, Tommy Molto now acting Prosecuting Attorney (P.A.), finds cause in the death and indicts him for suspicious death. Rusty is put through the same rigor that he went through 20 years ago when a co-prosecutor was killed and he was arrested for it. Only this time, he is being tried for the murder of his wife.

Scott Turow follows the same principle as he had used in the Presume Innocent's plot - most of it in first person narration of Rusty and few other characters; plot going back and forth between incidents that happened over a period of one year in the first part of the plot; an affair; a murder and a trial. Same recipe, some of the same names with similar roles, some new names, but in the end the plots are so so similar.

Yet, Turow creates a very complicated plot that has more depths than one can imagine. By narrating the past and present, Turow connects all the clues neatly together for the readers although his investigators fail to uncover a few pieces. Brilliantly written. 

Rusty Sabich was a complex character in the first book, unable to let his wife go, and craving for the forbidden at the same time. He turns out to be much more complex in this book. Knowing what happened to him twenty years ago when he stepped out on his marriage, he doesn’t learn a lesson.

And back when he had a chance to cut clean with his wife, he takes her back and lives on, all along craving the forbidden all over again. And in the end he doesn't even know what he wants from all of this, leaving so many unanswered confusing questions in the reader's mind. 

Incidentally this book was made into a TV movie starring Bill Pullman as Rusty Sabich and Richard Schiff in the role of Tommy Molto in 2011, which if you know me, I will be watching it soon and post a review too. :)

Again the plot was lengthy and lumbering along. However, since I now know how Turow writes his books, I didn’t feel it as tedious as I felt Presumed Innocent in the beginning. But the similarity in the plots kind of took out the suspense and thrill out of it, despite Turow giving us unexpected twists along the way. Turow keeps with the Perry Mason-style of defense lawyer emulating Erle Stanley Gardner in that part of the characterizing. 

The book I bought came with a card insert for United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the card had a snippet of one of the holocaust survivor Nina Szuster Merrick. Coincidentally author Turow dedicates this book to one "Nina". I don’t know if the card insert was originally sold with the book, or some one who previously owned the book had put it in there, but it seemed a huge coincidence. 

Another well-written 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. However, it felt repetitive with its prequel as I mentioned. Yet a good pick for anyone interested in court room trials.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. It is shown here that Rusty has reconciled with his wife, Barbara, and has been living together with her, along with their son, Nathaniel "Nat", who is a lawyer himself. Rusty has an affair with his senior clerk Anna Vostic. And later Anna falls in love with Nat. Complicated family dynamics, I say.

b. Nico Della "Delay" Guardia, the one who had become the prosecuting attorney in the first book, has now moved to Florida and became rich in tobacco litigation. 

c. Detective Dan Lipranzer, Rusty's friend and trusted detective, is now retired and moved to Arizona. 

d. Through Nat, Turow talks about a concept where every living thing sheds an image, and if we could get ahead of light, we could wind time back and see every moment in the past like seeing a movie. I wonder if that concept is for real or could be real. 

e. Again just like the first book, Tommy's second-in-command, Jim Brand, manipulates with the evidence. Although Turow doesn’t give evidence of it, but he gives readers a lot of pointers to make our own conclusions, and even makes the characters pay for that. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Recurring Law Enforcement and Legal folks: Raymond Patrick Horgan (Rusty's ex-boss and currently campaigning for Rusty's Supreme Court Primaries); Tomassino "Tommy" Molto III (acting P. A., married to Dominga Cortina, has a 21 month old son Tomaso and his wife pregnant with a second child); 

b. Law Enforcement and Legal folks newly introduced: Anna Vostic (Rusty's senior clerk); Marvina Hamlin & George Mason (co-judges on the appellate board with Rusty); James "Jim" Brand (Tommy's second-in-command, Chief Deputy); Kumari Bata (another clerk at Rusty's office); N. J. Koll (opponent to Rusty in the Supreme Court Primaries campaign); Marco Cantu (an ex-cop, now head of hotel security); Rory Gissling (Financial Crimes cop) & her husband Phil (lieutenant in Traffic); Shane Gissling (Rory's father and a Detective Sergeant); Judge Basil Yee; Debbie Diaz (Kindle County Unified Police Force); Ruta Wisz (paralegal); 

c. Other people (old and new):  Morrie "Mo" Dickerman (fingerprint expert); Dr. Nenny Strack (toxicologist); Vondra (Sandy's assistant); Dennis (Anna's psychiatrist); Pat (Rusty's assistant);Jenny Tilden (court transcriptor); Dr. Milo Gorvetich (computer expert); Dr. Russell (Barbara's doctor); Malvern (Tommy's assistant);

d. Rusty's attorneys in his defense: Alejandro "Sandy" Stern (oldest daughter & law partner Marta & her husband Solomon; youngest Kate has three children; son Peter); Mina (jury consultant); Matteus & Ryzard (computer experts); 

e. In the first book, Presumed Innocent, Rusty and Lip uncover a bribery scandal at the Prosecuting Attorney's office that had happened nine years prior to the year that plot was set in and was being investigated by Carolyn five months prior to her murder. Although author Turow gave an ending to that scandal, I felt there is more to it that could potentially be plots for his future books. 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.

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

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