Author: Scott Turow
Mantle RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
I must admit that reading Presumed Innocent swayed my expectations of Identical, Scott Turow’s latest legal thriller, somewhat; the first was striking because it made for such compulsive reading. Identical didn’t strike me the same way; it’s a slow, dry read, full of details that highlights Turow’s expertise in the legal field, but I didn’t warm to it as well as I had hoped. Why? It’s hard to say, but I think Turow’s writing style just didn’t grab me this time.
In essence, the novel is about two US-based Greek families, the Gianis and the Kronons, who have a long, complicated history together. Dita, the daughter of businessman and politician Zeus Kronon, was found murdered after a society picnic, and her boyfriend, Cass Gianis, confessed to the crime. Twenty five years later, Cass is due to be released from prison into the care of his identical twin, mayoral candidate Paul Gianis. The timing, in some ways, could not be worse: Paul is in the middle of a political campaign and doesn’t really need media focus on the case. For Dita’s brother Hal, a highly successful and influential businessman, the timing presents the perfect opportunity to derail Paul’s political ambitions; he is convinced Paul was involved in Dita’s death, and thinks the time is ripe to uncover the truth. Hal employs former FBI agent Evon Miller and retired police officer Tim Brodie to investigate, charging them to find evidence that will place Paul at the scene of the crime. Does Paul have something to hide?
In other reviews, much is made of the story’s link to the Greek Castor and Pollux myth; I admit to knowing little about the myth and will leave that to others to discuss the parallels. The story is told in two time periods – 1982 and 2008 – with flashbacks helping to explain the complicated nature of the families’ entanglements, which provide misdirection as well as information. Usually I like this, but what I found was that the twin’s storyline (the title’s significant) did not really surprise me, nor did the twist at the end – so, the who was no surprise, and the why was not a great surprise either. The story is slow to start and I suspect many will find it hard to push through. I did, and I persevered, but ultimately, I found myself too bogged down in detail, political machinations and a storyline that for whatever reason, didn’t excite me. More courtroom action would have been good.
My verdict: okay, not great – it’s no Presumed Innocent. However, given that there are a number of 4-5 star reviews on Goodreads, you may want to check this one out for yourself if you’re a fan of legal thrillers.
Available from good bookstores. This copy was courtesy of Pan Macmillan.
Bookish treat: Something to take away the dry taste … an iced coffee?