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Home » Books & writing

Review & Giveaway: Scott Turow’s INNOCENT

Submitted by on April 12, 2010 – 11:31 pm 41 Comments

No, I didn’t accidentally omit the Presumed in that title. Scott Turow follows up his 23-year-old blockbuster debut with a sequel, out May 4, titled simply Innocent. But that’s the only thing simple about it.

Rusty Sabich has aged in real time and is now the 60-year-old chief judge of an appellate court in Kindle County. He’s up for state Supreme Court when he wakes up one day to find his wife dead next to him. He waits almost 24 hours to call in authorities, claiming shock. But Tommy Molto, the lawyer who accused Sabich of killing his mistress in the previous book, doesn’t buy it, and once again, Sabich finds himself on trial for murder with Molto as his prosecutor.

Having read Presumed, I anticipated a final twist and tried to crack Turow’s formula to figure it out early on. I couldn’t. All my theories were debunked and 25 pages from the end, I still hadn’t guessed the whole truth. When Turow finally reveals everything, it’s horrible but makes perfect sense, not something tacked on just for cheap shock value.

Though Innocent is expertly plotted, the characters are hard to like. I often referred to Sabich as Sumbich in my head because he, along with a couple other characters, behaves selfishly and stupidly at times. They use emotional pain as an excuse, or say mistakes are necessary en route to self-realization. That’s an understandable justification if they only recognize their wrongdoing in hindsight. Knowing something is deplorable and doing it anyway is another thing altogether.

But, hey, these people make you glad you’re not nearly as screwed up as they are. The legal and mystery aspects are engrossing, and I could clearly envision the sure-to-be-made movie. Harrison Ford and Bonnie Bedelia could return as the Sabiches; Jesse Bradford, who portrayed 8-year-old Nat in the 1997 movie of Presumed Innocent, has grown up to become a fine adult actor and could easily reprise his role, too. But someone else would have to play Sandy Stern, the lawyer who reps Sabich in both trials, since he was played by the late Raul Julia. His would be big shoes to fill.

So, want to be able to say to your friends, “Of COURSE I know there’s a sequel to Presumed Innocent coming out next month, I’m already reading it”? Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group, I’m giving away FIVE copies of Innocent, with one grand-prize winner getting a copy of Presumed Innocent, too. (You don’t need to read the first novel before the sequel because Turow skillfully avoids spoiling the former’s surprise ending, but it would give you a deeper understanding of some characters’ motivations.)

To enter:

  • leave a comment about something you were falsely accused of
  • be a subscriber or Twitter follower (tell me which). Current subscribers/followers get two entries; people who tweet about this giveaway get three
  • you must live in U.S. or Canada, no P.O. Boxes

Giveaway ends Saturday, April 24, at midnight PST. Five names will be randomly drawn; the first name chosen will get both Presumed Innocent and Innocent. I won’t be contacting each person individually; winners will only be announced here and on Twitter so make sure you check back. Winners will have 48 hours to reply with a mailing address before alternate name(s) are selected.

Now, let’s hear some guiltless secrets!



  • Poncho says:

    I know I don’t qualify, but nonetheless:

    I was once falsely accused of spreading an allegedly nasty rumor about a friend. She once arrived and slapped me in the face, and called me a f%&$%$& gossip. The worst thing? As of now, I’ve never heard the rumor I was accused of spreading.

  • EIREGO says:

    This is easy! And it just happened.

    I was turning onto the street where I live when I was suddenly lit up by flashing blue lights.

    The cop asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
    “No, officer, I have no idea.”

    “You were doing 47 in a 25”
    “I couldn’t possibly get up to that speed 20 feet from the stop sign. This is just a Hyundai”.

    “You ran the stop sign.”
    “Too many kids in this area. There is no way I would do that.”

    He checked my license, registration and insurance and let me go.

    Two weeks later I get a ticket in the mail saying I have to pay the fine for the stop sign. Nothing about speeding. And I have to pay the fine in order to fight the ticket. I do. My day comes comes up in Traffic Court. I face my accuser who stands in front of the judge with a diagram drawn on a chalkboard. The officer is wearing glasses today and holds a sheath of papers which he refers to when making the diagram and stating “the facts”. He misspells my name, gets the date wrong, inverts numbers on the ticket and claims he saw me roll through the stop sign even though a Cadillac Escalade is blocking his view of my little Hyundai. I point this out to the judge (who is evidently doing a crossword puzzle the whole time). I have no prior criminal record.


    The cop follows me outside and pulls his cruiser up behind me in the parking lot. I don’t start the car. Return a few phone calls. Don’t look at him. His radio sparks. He leaves.

    I have been driving my wife’s car these days.

  • WotV says:

    I stalk… um… follow you on Twitter (@WotV)and will tweet your contest..

    I was falsely accused of leaving someone’s computer logged on when it should have been locked – she did it but was looking for a scapegoat.

  • Reader#9 says:

    This was in high school.

    A really good friend and neighbor stopped speaking to me. The was a moody kid anyway and he had done this before. I figured it was trouble at home as usual and waited for him to come around. He did. He came around and smashed into me from behind while I was at my locker. Busted my lip and cut my eye.

    Turns out, one of his new idiot friends (who had personal issues with me) told this guy I was trash talking the new car he had bought. It never happened. I hadn’t even seen it up to that point anyway. Did I mention he was moody?

    Still hasn’t spoken to me after all these years. Very glad I moved away after high school.

  • ARB says:

    In college, my girlfriend accused me of sleeping with another girl. Her friends backed her up. I hadn’t, but when a person is mad and their friends back them up…. So, we broke up. THEN, I slept with that girl I supposedly had already slept with. It just made sense to me.

  • Vicki says:

    I was a production specialist for a government contracted business. One day I went to work and found out there was a huge mistake made on one of our contracts the day before and that a co-worker had named me as the guilty one. Everything was checked and triple checked before it went out the door, so they weren’t worried about it not being delivered correctly, they were concerned with not making the deadline due to the time it would take to correct the mistake. Thank goodness the head of the department had seen the other woman do what she was accusing me of and told the company heads, so in the end I was cleared, the other woman wasn’t so lucky. And the deadline was met.


  • Vicki says:

    I’m a current subscriber


  • Vicki says:



  • Once falsely accused of not being the good guy… How wrong they were!

    Bill 😉

    billsmith2003 (at) gmail (dot) com

    Hope you’ll check out my book giveaway:

  • Marilu says:

    I was falsely accused of stealing money from a friend’s house.We had only met a week or two before this incident, and it was my first time meeting her mom and step dad. The money disappeared while I was visiting. Funny thing is it ” re appeared ” in the pocket of the jacket her step father had been wearing that evening. I did get an apology!

    lovemykidsandbooks AT gmail DOT com

  • Marilu says:

    I subscribe by email.

    lovemykidsandbooks AT gmail DOT com

  • le0pard13 says:

    Fine book review, PCN. You’re so right about the casting, too. I still miss the great Raul Julia.

    Okay, if we step into the WACBAC machine, we’re sent back to the late 60’s for my 8th grade in Junior High (no silly named Middle School, here). There we find my intrepid self in the same 2nd floor math classroom with my absolutely most despised school teacher of all-time (nobody else comes close). I was never a great student (I enjoyed coasting too much), but I could still get B’s & C’s without too much effort. However, this Algebra instructor seemed to go out of his way to discourage those he didn’t like. Eh, I thought (more coasting). Then, we covered a section that clicked with me (can’t remember what that was, now).

    When he gave the section test, I aced it (along with the guy who wasn’t very good at math sitting to my side). We were among the handful that did. However, the math teacher failed me and the guy next to me on the test because he thought we cheated (based on our past performance in class). The teacher just wouldn’t listen to me tell him I did no such thing–none of those sitting around me did well on that test, either. I later found out that the guy sitting next to me copied off of my sheet (it’s how he aced it, too)–but I did my own work without cheating. Mom had to get involved so I could get a re-test (over my lunch period all by myself). I aced it again, but never forgot the incident.

    Thanks, PCN (re-tweet sent).

  • I have been accused of being a hateful b–ch only about a million times on my blog after writing something about some tv show that a commenter obviously didn’t agree with.

    Thankfully, I haven’t ever been accused of committing a crime.

  • Naomi Johnson says:

    I got a call from one of the company’s sales reps one day. She went off on me, saying a customer had told her that I had said she was going to lose her job over some contract issues. I never even got a word in. She was literally screaming at me, vowing to have my job and crap like that. I had called the customer the day before to verify some pricing, the rep’s name had never even come up in the conversation and there had been no antagonism, so I never knew how it all came about. If I hadn’t kept good notes on my phone calls, I don’t know if I would have been believed. But nothing happened to me or to the sales rep. I flat refused to ever deal with her again. Anything she needed from my office from that time on, she had to work through her district manager to get.

  • Katiefornia says:

    I follow you on Twitter, ahem, as of this evening when I saw your contest, but I very much look forward to seeing your tweets!

    My ex and I were visiting his parents one weekend and on the Saturday of our visit said we’d be having dinner with friends and would crash at their place that night as we planned on drinking and didn’t want to drive. We arrived back on Sunday morning and my ex-mother-in-law accused me of actually staying at a hotel because I though I was too good to stay at their trailer. I was too hung over to care, but that really bothered me. And I actually liked their triple-wide!

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Thanks for following, Katiefornia. I hope my future tweets won’t disappoint you.

      Your story reminds me of this one time I moved out of the guest bedroom of a friend I was visiting and went to a hotel. She also accused me of thinking I was too good for her house. I said, “No, it’s because every morning when I wake up, your cat is sitting on my face.”

  • Ashley H. says:

    I was falsely accused of stealing a bracelet a few years ago. Luckily my true friends knew the truth.

  • Sue says:

    In high school, a rumor went around that I’d been driving drunk and was in an accident causing damage to a friend and property. It was mortifying to hear and was so untrue. It wasn’t the kind of person I was. …

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

  • Pop Culture Nerd says:

    Welcome, Ashley & Sue. Those are horrible accusations; hope you got things straightened out.

    Are you subscribers and/or Twitter followers? If not, please sign up to be eligible for the giveaway. Thanks.

  • jenforbus says:

    Does being falsely accused of having a…uh…um…loose reputation count? It actually happened right here! 😉

    The only other thing I can come up with is probably questionable based on perspective, but while teaching I was accused of “humiliating” a student. The facts are these:

    We were going to work on a poetry project that required the students to bring in resources from the library, Internet, etc. For two weeks prior to that day, I reminded students to bring their resources on that day. I sent email reminders, posted reminders on the board in the room and reminded them verbally. I also told them if they didn’t bring their resources, they wouldn’t have anything they could work on, so I would give them a writing assignment. The day the students were going to work on their project, one student didn’t bring anything in for resources (almost proudly so). And I gave her a writing assignment.

    Her mother came into the school, told the principal I humiliated her daughter and demanded to have her removed from my class. The administration backed this parent. That was the beginning of the end of my teaching days, but I believe I was falsely accused of humiliating a student. I would never go out of my way to intentially do that. I was just enforcing a policy previously set. Obviously the parent doesn’t believe it was a false accusation…and evidently neither did my school’s administration. 🙁

  • Good luck to all those eligible!! PCN, any chance you can review some duds so that I can stop adding reads to The List for a little while?

  • Anita Yancey says:

    I remember in high school I was falsely accused of telling on another student about something she did wrong concerning the school paper. Even though I did witness what she did wrong, I wasn’t the one who told on her. What was so bad about it she confronted and accussed me in front of the whole school, so there was a really big deal made about it. Please enter me. Thanks!

  • Anita Yancey says:

    I am a current email subscriber!

  • Sarah E says:

    In high school my parents falsely accused me of going to a party they had forbidden me from attending when I really only spent the night at my friend’s house. Thankfully my friend’s parents convinced my parents that I had not left their house all night!

    Please enter me in this giveaway!

  • Sarah E says:

    I follow on Twitter (@saemmerson).

  • David says:

    OK I only have a PO address in the US so I am not eligible but here goes…

    About 10 years ago, at 06:00 in the morning when I was living in a student dorm up north Sweden, all of a sudden several police in normal clothes entered my room and woke me up (I hadn’t locked the door). There was even an FBI present, but he was not included in the warrant so he had to ask my permission for everything he wanted to look at. Turns out some hackers used my father’s dialup account to get in to a US military email server about 3 years earlier. And for this I became the main suspect. I had to spend a day in the police house but was released in the afternoon. I was very innocent.

  • Trontastic says:

    I can’t wait to read this book! I read the review over on Huffington Post on Scott Turow’s Innocent and got all excited about it all over again!

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