Don’t presume anything about Turow’s ‘Innocent’

“Innocent” is Scott Turow’s sequel to “Presumed Innocent,” his blockbuster first novel that revealed him as a genius of court/crime fiction.

If it seems like “Presumed Innocent” was published a long time ago, that’s because it was — in 1987. Much has happened in readers’ lives since then, and that goes as well for the characters of Rusty Sabich and Tommy Molto, adversaries then as now. Sabich now is chief judge of the state court of appeals in the third district, Molto the acting prosecuting attorney.

But despite the passage of time, Rusty is up to his old tricks and ends up again sticking his neck in a noose, once again accused of a crime he swears he didn’t commit. This time, instead of a former lover the victim is Rusty’s wife, who he insists died of natural causes. Molto and his chief deputy aren’t so sure.

There are undercurrents aplenty — enough to keep the reader thoroughly engrossed. First is the continuing battle of wills between Rusty and Tommy. Then there’s the fact that Rusty’s son, Nat, now is a young adult, a law-school graduate struggling to find his way through a lean-economy minefield — and, well, let’s just say there are entanglements in Nat’s relationships that Rusty couldn’t have foreseen. The book also bounces back and forth between time periods 18 months apart, and the voices of Rusty, Tommy and Nat.

Advances in forensic science also play an intriguing role and are even reflected in the paperback’s cover.

I’m struggling mightily not to give anything away here, which is a little difficult with a story this complex. Here’s one little hint, though: Several times Rusty says his late wife, Barbara, was the smartest person he knew.

What he should have added is that she was also astonishingly cunning.

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