Book Review: Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

Presumed Innocent
by
Scott Turow

Rating: 4 out of 5.

With so many new books out there, would you consider reading an old courtroom thriller? I did! Presumed Innocent was published in 1987 and the movie starring Harrison Ford followed in 1990. So 35 years ago, it was a hot book and a hot movie.

This excellent story is about its narrator, Rusty Sabich, Kindle County’s chief deputy prosecuting attorney who has been arrested for the murder of Carolyn Polhemus, an ambitious attorney in Sabich’s office. Rusty and Carolyn had a brief affair and his fingerprints are found on the scene. This is all on the heels of Raymond Horgan’s lost bid to another term as chief P.A. Rusty, loyal to Horgan for twelve years, had one day hoped to succeed his boss. Now, everything has changed. Nico Della Guardia (whom Rusty had once fired) takes Horgan’s place and Rusty’s a pariah, fighting for his freedom. What does his young son think of him? Will his wife, Barbara will stand by his side? Readers have more questions. Did Rusty murder Carolyn? And if he didn’t who did?

Sandy Stern, a shrewd and sophisticated defense attorney, gives Rusty hope. That and the fact that Judge Larren Lyttle, Horgan’s best friend, will preside at his trial. Lyttle’s twenty years as a defense attorney could favor Rusty in rulings during the trial, but the ultimate decision rides on the jury.

Sound complicated? It is! Add police corruption, politics, a tangled web of relationships and a lost file from years ago, containing incriminating information, and it will take a book to figure it all out.

I liked Presumed Innocent for a lot of reasons. At 453 pages, and close to one hundred characters, this is not a book you read in a couple day. Its length made me think about all the pieces and wonder about the characters. Turow does an excellent job with his main characters. Readers get to know Rusty best of all and learn about the key players through his observations. Several characters with questionable motives muddy the waters and reflect the complexities in police and legal work. My favorite character was Sandy Stern. His composure and skill in the courtroom would make anyone want him on their side. But he plays his cards close to the vest and keeps his strategy to himself, a frustration for Rusty.

Presumed Innocent is Turow’s first of eleven books in the Kindle County series. Book 11, The Last Trial was published in 2020. The one criticism I would make about the book, which is obviously dated in the sense of crime scene investigations, is the author’s use of stereotypical ethnic characterizations, some of them cringe-worthy. I’m taking a star off for that reason, but would otherwise recommend this first book in the series, especially if you want to read the rest.

Have you read Presumed Innocent or seen the movie? Leave a comment!

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Man books – books with “man” in the title

We see our fair share of books with “woman” in the title, so I thought it would be fun to see what “man” books are out there. Turns out plenty! I’ve only read one of these, but many of the books listed here are from bestselling authors. I included one steamy one, so read that one at your own risk 😉

Here are 10 “man” books and there are many more! All links and descriptions are from Goodreads, Amazon or my blog.

A Better Man by Louise Penny – I’ve read a few Louise Penny books, but not this one. Book 15 in the Armand Gamache series. Catastrophic spring flooding, blistering attacks in the media, and a mysterious disappearance greet Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he returns to the Sûreté du Québec in the latest novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny.

A Gambling Man by David Baldacci – Book 2 in the Archer series. Aloysius Archer, the straight-talking World War II veteran fresh out of prison, returns in this riveting #1 New York Times bestselling thriller from David Baldacci.

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney – Book 1 in the Gray Man series. To those who lurk in the shadows, he’s known as the Gray Man. He is a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible and then fading away. And he always hits his target. Always.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham – John Grisham’s first work of nonfiction: a true crime story that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence. “Both an American tragedy and [Grisham’s] strongest legal thriller yet, all the more gripping because it happens to be true.”—Entertainment Weekly

The Lost Man by Jane Harper – This is the one I’ve read: Nathan and Bub Bright were shocked when their middle brother, Cameron died in the outback’s unrelenting heat. It didn’t make sense that he’d had gone out on foot to the legendary Stockman’s Grave, miles from his truck and the family’s cattle ranch. At forty, Cam was a successful and capable rancher and ran the family’s business. And he knew the dangers of the desert heat. Despite signs that Cam was desperate to find shade, investigators suggest that Cam took his own life.

The Memory Man by David Baldacci – Book 1 in the Amos Decker series. Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice. The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.

Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw – I’d forgotten about this one! This New York Times–bestselling saga of two brothers in postwar America, the basis for the classic miniseries, is “a book you can’t put down” (The New York Times).

This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas  – Steam warning!! Named one of “The 20 Greatest Ever Romance Novels According to Goodreads Reviews” by O, The Oprah Magazine. Young interior designer Ava O’Shea has no idea what awaits her at the Manor. A run-of-the-mill consultation with a stodgy country gent seems likely, but what Ava finds instead is Jesse Ward—a devastatingly handsome, utterly confident, pleasure-seeking playboy who knows no boundaries…

Have you read any of these “man” books? Leave a comment!

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Book Review: Date with Death by Julia Chapman

Date with Death
by
Julia Chapman

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a cozy mystery to read during the holidays, take a look at Date with Death by Julia Chapman. Set in England in the Yorkshire Dales, it’s the first in the Dales Detective series in which the author introduces Samson O’Brien, Delilah Metcalf and a host of characters who live in the small town/village of Bruncliffe. Bruncliffe is the type of place where everyone knows everyone’s business, and has strong opinions about all things, giving the setting a colorful backdrop.

The story opens with Richard Hargreaves’ murder on the tracks of the local train station as well as Samson’s return to Bruncliffe after a fourteen-year absence. There’s a lot of beef between Samson and the people in town as well as a mystery behind why he’s back from a top detective position in London. Samson’s boss has advised him to lie low until gross misconduct charges against him have been settled.

Romantic tension develops right away between Samson and Delilah when Samson sets up the Dales Detective Agency downstairs from Delilah’s business, the struggling Dales Dating Agency. Richard’s mother soon hires Samson to investigate her son’s murder, whose death has been declared a suicide. She’s certain Richard didn’t kill himself, that he was on the upswing after a tough divorce and happy over a love prospect he connected with through Delilah’s dating agency.

To Delilah’s horror, more of her clients meet mysterious deaths and it’s a race against time to clear the connection and keep others safe. Not surprisingly, Delilah helps Samson with his investigation.

Readers meet many of the town’s residents, including Delilah’s family and get to know their back stories and quirky characteristics. Some act suspiciously, suggesting a possible connection to the murders and the mystery of who is the killer takes many twists before the finish.

Many relationship questions remain at the end, including the simmering interest between Samson and Delilah and readers will need to dig into the next ones to see where they lead.

I enjoyed this story, though cozy mysteries are not my favorite genre. My mystery group thought it was great, however, so take that as a recommendation too. Although close to 400 pages, it was a fast read and entertaining to read during the hectic holiday times.

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Who’s That Indie Author? John W. Howell

Who's That Indie Author pic

john-howell
Author name
:  John W. Howell

Genre:  Fiction Thrillers

BooksMy GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice

my-grl     his-revenge     our-justice

Bio:  John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories.  His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016.  All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Favorite thing about being a writer: My favorite thing about being a writer is being allowed to be responsible for the quality of my work. I do not have to rely on others in bringing a project to conclusion. To be able to work hard and to be dedicated to the task to its finish is highly rewarding.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  The biggest challenge is reaching readers. In today’s indie environment there are about 4000 books published each day. Rising above this population and being chosen to be read is a daunting task. It is especially hard if there are not unlimited funds available for promotion.

Favorite book:  My favorite book out of thousands of favorites is On the Beach by Neville Shute. It was the first book I could remember reading where the ending was not “classically” happy. I was stunned by the circumstances and the quality of the writing. The book deals with the world is ending due to nuclear war and the last humans are living in Australia waiting for their inevitable fate.

Contact Information:
Blog:   Fiction Favorites
Facebook:  John Howell
Twitter:  @HowellWave
Amazon Author:  John W. Howell

Click here to read more about John Howell in this recent author interview on BlondeWriteMore.


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