Words With Wine: Presumed Innocent

June 19, 2015

PRESUMED INNOCENT first hit the shelves when I was seven years old. Boy, did I miss out. I finally got around to reading Scott Turow's classic thriller and it is as riveting as all the reviews. Turow is an ordained Thriller Master and this work truly is a miracle of suspense writing. 

 

At first, I didn't realize how fantastic this book would be. The plot starts off like an episode of Law and Order SVU: woman, apparently raped in a sadistic fashion, found dead in her apartment. Twist: She's a prosecutor who went after sexual offenders. I can imagine Elliot's pained expression now as he stands over DA Alexandra Cabot. 

 

But, from there, PRESUMED INNOCENT takes off into an unfamiliar landscape of political alliances, crimes and coverups. The rape is staged. Aside from the people who victim Carolyn put away, there are many more people who have reasons to want her gone--namely her fellow prosecuting attorneys. 

 

Before she died, Carolyn was sleeping her way to the top ranks of law enforcement and leaving plenty of broken hearts and grudges in her wake. She had dumped chief deputy prosecutor and narrator, Rusty, when it became clear that he would not play politics to get a better position, leaving the married man obsessed and devastated. She was dating the head prosecutor (for Good Wife fans think Peter) a few months before she died, potentially creating a political scandal for him before a difficult election. She had also been investigating a bribery ring that involved the prosecutors' office, which could have motivated whomever was involved to silence her. 

 

Rusty is put in charge of the investigation. By the end of the first act, he's been arrested for Carolyn's murder. His fingerprints are in the apartment and what may, or may not, be his sperm is found inside her. Rusty resolves to fight the charges, though Turow keeps the reader guessing as to whether he is a guilty or innocent. The narrative flips back and forth between present action and Rusty recalling his failed affair with his psychiatrist, revealing to the reader that Rusty had become unraveled by his extramarital relationship. It is also revealed that Rusty told his wife and that they have been having problems adding, perhaps, the needed stress to make Rusty take rash action. 

 

I didn't guess the likely killer until nearly the end--and even then I wouldn't have staked money on it. I still believed Rusty might have been involved. Yet, despite that belief, Turow made me care about him enough that I couldn't put the book down. I wanted him to get off, even though he may have done it. 

 

Truly a masterwork, not only of plot, but also of characterization. Loved it. I will definitely be reading Turow's back catalog! I'm debating whether it's worth seeing the Harrison Ford movie version of the novel. In my mind, Rusty looks like Goran Višnjić and I'm having a difficult time picturing Indiana Jones. 

 

I enjoyed the book with a bottle of Divining Rod Cabernet, a fruity wine with enough mineral taste to keep it interesting and a long, smooth finish. The perfect drinking companion to a book that kept me up until the last page. 

 

 

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