The front cover quotes the Sunday Times, 'As Gripping as Grisham'. Normally you take comments like that with a pinch of salt and an attempt by the publishers to get some reflected glory. However, in this case I would say it was bang on the money. This is the first book by Scott Turow I have read. It grabbed my attention from the outset and was absorbing throughout. Certainly gripping like Grisham, but apart from the fact that it is a legal story, there the similarity ends as the style is compelling and quite different.
The story concerns a judge who, many years earlier, was accused of and cleared of the murder of a lover. His wife has died suddenly under suspicious circumstances and he finds himself in the frame as the prime suspect. As an extra twist, the prosecutor in this case tried and failed to obtain a conviction all those years earlier which is a blot on his otherwise successful career.
There are quite a lot of references to the earlier case,and it came as no surprise to learn subsequently that this is covered in Scott Turow's previous novel, Presumed Innocent
which was published about twenty years ago. However, I can confirm that this book can be read on a standalone basis and I did not feel that not having read its predecessor affected my enjoyment significantly.
The story is written from the perspective of four of the main characters - the judge, his lover, his son and the prosecutor. Last time I read a book in this format I found it very difficult to identify with or have any liking for any of the narrators. However, here the author really gets under the skin of the participants such that the reader can empathise with each of them and see what is going on from their perspective. You can identify with each of them, their hopes and fears, and none of them is dislikeable so the normal divide between what is right and what is wrong does not apply here.
So to summarise, I found this an original and absorbing novel which I thoroughly enjoyed and which was something of a page turner. Highly recommended!