Throughout the month of December, we are featuring NPR hosts, reporters, and writers talking about their favorite books of 2010. Scott Simon is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday.
Scott Turow avoided writing a sequel to Presumed Innocent for 20 years. He was offered many blandishments (which is to say: $$$), but felt that he still had many more stories to tell — and he has, creating a cast of characters in fictional Kindle County (a pretty clear stand-in for Chicago) that have moved through eight more novels, including Burden of Proof, Reversible Errors, and (my favorite) Personal Injuries. But great literary characters live on in our minds. If millions of readers continue to be interested in Rusty Sabich, the career prosecutor accused of murdering his former mistress in Presumed Innocent, why shouldn't the novelist?
The result is this year’s Innocent. It is an extraordinary novel, clearly the work of a writer who has matured as an artist, and a public figure who has peered behind the curtains (and robes) of the powerful. Rusty Sabich is now 60 and a supreme court judge. His wife dies in bed beside him, and the judge is accused of her murder, with the implication that she might have possessed the knowledge to undercut the acquittal he was given for the murder of which he was accused a generation earlier. All of the immensely intricate and satisfying courtroom serves and volleys are there. But so is a story of fathers and sons, allure and reason, and finding reasons to go on beyond despair.