In the late 1980’s Scott Turow’s first novel “Presumed Innocent” set the publishing world aflame with its sexual explicitness and its dense, riveting mystery. It was a number one best-seller and was turned into a classic thriller film with Harrison Ford. Twenty years later, Turow came out with a sequel called “Innocent” which is not sexually explicit but does have just as riveting a mystery. Why does it work so well?
At the end of “Presumed Innocent,” the protagonist Rusty Sabich is acquitted of murder charges. At the beginning of “Innocent,” he gets implicated in a woman’s death again-this time, his wife’s. He ends up on trial again and even his loving son Nat wonders if he is guilty or not. Further complicating matters is Anna, Nat’s girlfriend, who used to be lovers with Rusty and may have some involvement with the wife’s death. As the trial goes on, the twists and turns continue.
“Innocent” is a spellbinding thriller because it keeps you guessing till the end. The guessing is not so much who killed whom as it is what twist and turn in the trial is coming up next. The novel is told from the point of view of several different characters, which actually helps build suspense about what’s going to happen. Several characters, such as Rusty and the prosecutor Tommy Molto, have complicated character arcs and many good and bad character traits. That sort of complexity is a breath of fresh air in an age of writing for dummies. I was spellbound through 400+ pages of this book, and by the end I felt I had been put through the literary ringer. In short, if you’re looking for a great thriller, try “Innocent”!