Scott Turow has been on my bookshelf for decades. Now up pops the Audible sale on Presumed Innocent so I buy it. Everything worked together here to make this a pleasing surprise!
First, the narration. My "A" list is short - Dennis Boutsikaris, the late Frank Muller, the rare Michael Beck, and now a too long hidden treasure, Edward Herrmann! This engaging narrator is a star in the genre! He will be the reason I try Turow's Ordinary Heroes, and will anticipate an Audible release of Innocent, Scott Turow's latest novel due to hit the shelves in May 2010.
The book did not seem 30 years old. In many ways, it is refreshing to enjoy a book untainted by our anxious world today. Turow does not beat us over the head with his actual experience as a prosecutor as some lawmen turned authors do. Rather, he leaves us appreciative of his skills in both arenas. Most every character mentioned is well developed and comes alive in the story.
Our main man is Rusty Sabich, a PA with whom Turow requires his readers to become intimate with by his use of the first person in story telling. Rusty works with both friend and foe, and the PA's office as well as the courtroom become a maze of deception, intrigue and surprise. Rusty finds himself in the grip of a nightmarish reality, that being on trial for a murder he didn't commit . . . or did he? That is the hook, the twist!
Turow's familiar character Sandy Stern is perhaps the most personable and brilliant attorney ever detailed in any novel! Sometimes we want a fictional lawyer complete with typical inherent flaws as in Grisham's Nate O'Riley or Clark's Mason Hunt. Sandy Stern is as gentlemanly as he is sharp. In fact, councelor Stern sneaks up on me as THE main character in this fascinating book. I so much want to know someone like Sandy Stern, just not as an opposing lawyer!
I will soon pull down the book & re-read the epic court room exchanges that are now among my favorite in the genre.
I listen to every book Grisham wrote over and over again. At my age, I can safely hide my own Easter eggs, so my favorite books become new again in 7 or 8 months. Every Grisham book except this one. Scott Brick's narration style just does not sit well with me. His voice lilts like a Sunday School teacher's in a class of 6 year olds. Is he singing or narrating? However, other Grisham narrators like Michael Beck and Frank Muller are without peer, so I am jaded. Not about the talent, rather the story, you might say? Not so in audio books. Narration makes ALL the difference. I guess Ed Herrmann can't read 'em all, and John Boutsikakis, perhaps the best ever, left us way too early. Brick had the deck stacked against him before I hit play button. I am forever spoiled by favorite talent that I have come to enjoy immensely.
The movie was very good, and departs from the novel more than most scripts do. I liked the book just fine, but not better in this case. When I read, or the one time I listened, I saw in my mind Cruise & Brimley and the others. The story transports the reader very well, and the addition of side trips like McDeere's brother Ray, and the PI Eddie Lomax really enrich the plot. The reader FEELS the gradual swing of the pendulum as Mitch McDeere goes from exuberant new hire at the Firm, to a realization that all is not as it was represented to him, to fugitive from both the law and the mob. The action never ebbs, the story never bogs down, and the reader finds himself hanging on for dear life and loving every minute of it. The one somewhat less than believable character is Mitch's wife Abby. Her inner resolve and strength seemed to evolve from out of nowhere.
It is a good read, and the movie is very good, which is a rare thing in the inevitable "translation" give and take, but in audio it is not up to par. Still, I must recommend the book rather than the audio. Grisham’s “The Testament” is my all time favorite and listened to often.
I want to write something meaningful. I suppose all I can say is that it transports the listener from their comfortable SUV or livingroom, halfway around the globe to another world entirely! The story is real, the blood is red, the language is foul, the drugs and alcohol are numbing, the racism is injected into everything, and the futility of this deplorable chapter in our history hangs over the entire account like a dirty blanket. If this is what you want, if you are curious as to why so many who came back from this "conflict" only to discover they can never quite get all the way back, then this book is for you.
I was there as an Army aviator, in country 1966 - 1967, spent some time living with forward outfits but also enjoyed air conditioned villas. I spent every day in support of combat operations in one way or another, day and night - listening to their cries of victory as well as their pain, anguish and calls for fire support, napalm and med-evac. I discovered that I don't need or want to go back to that place again. I have gotten on with my life reasonably undamaged by the experience for which thing I feel blessed. I ache for those I know who have not been so lucky. For me, the experience of opening this Pandora's Box was like sticking my finger in a live light socket to see if it would shock me. It did, and I KNEW it would.
So about the book, it was well crafted and had great, very realistic characters. I "knew" many of them. The author took extra care to be graphic, and it seemed that was his intent from the onset. I cannot fault this effort from a literary standpoint at all, but for me it should have been left alone.
On a happier note, this book re-affirmed my resolve made decades ago, to stop often to "smell the roses" and to give thanks for my small station in life today. I remain proud of my service then, but not so proud of the spineless politicians who failed me, and my brothers in arms at that time.
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