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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Identical by Scott Turow

Identical by Scott Turow – Paul Giannis, state senator and successful lawyer, is running for mayor of the Tri-Cities in Kindle County. His identical twin, Cass, is about to be released from serving 25 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, Aphrodite, known as Dita.

Hal Kronon, brother to Dita, and heir to the shopping mall empire assembled by their father, Zeus, is outraged that Cass is getting out of jail. Since the murder of his sister Hal has been convinced Paul had a role in the death.

At the parole hearing in which Cass receives a few month early release Hal rashly accuses Paul of being involved in the murder of Dita. He follows up by preparing and paying for ads targeting Paul because of his alleged involvement in Dita’s death.

The campaign against Paul immediately brought to mind the Swift boat ads used against American presidential candidate, John Kerry.

Hal’s V-P for security for his company ZP is Evon Miller, a former FBI agent. She counsels him against inciting Paul for there is no factual information Paul had any involvement. The billionaire does not care if he loses a libel suit or what damages could be assessed against him.

At the same time Hal does not fit the image of the classic evil business mogul. He deeply loves his wife and children. He is generous to and respectful of Evon. He accepts her being a lesbian as it is who she is in life. He wears rumpled suits because of his excess weight. Overall he is actually a bit of a billionaire bumbler.

Evon enjoys her work but is in a turbulent relationship with a younger woman, Kathy, who was a model. It has been awhile since I read a book with the challenges of a lesbian relationship dealt with frankly by an author.

When Paul reluctantly sues Hal for defamantion at the insistence of his campaign manager Hal calls upon Evon. She is to work with aged P.I. investigator, Tim Brodie, who has been on retainer to ZP for decades. They are instructed to find information that would support Hal’s contention that Paul must have been involved in the murder.

Tim is yet another interesting vital 80 plus character who remains a talented interviewer while coping with a bad leg and intense loneliness. I have read several recent books where octogenarians were active in their lives and important to the plot.

With a less skilled author Evon and Tim would embark on a campaign to ferret out questionable facts dishonourably and create evidence if necessary. Instead, Evon and Tim counduct a scrupulous investigation going over the police records which were filed with the court at the time of the guilty plea.

They find a statement made Paul that his brother did not commit the murder. Hal exploits the statement in his ads as dishonest for his brother acknowledged committing the murder by pleading guilty.

As part of the plea bargain worked out by defence counsel, Sandy Stern, Cass was granted the unusual privilege of serving his time in minimum security. The investigators cannot find anything improper in the sentencing process.

The investigation also sends Evon and Tim deep into the history of the close knit Greek community whose social life has been focused around the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church for decades. Long standing antagonisms have carried on for generations within the congregation.

Paul was right to be wary about commencing the lawsuit. Court actions never proceed predictably.

Paul never expected that advances in fingerprint science and DNA analysis could look into long buried secrets. I had not realized that evolving DNA technology is on the edge of allowing identical twins to be identified separately.

Turow has twists and turns in both the court action and the overall plot. While all readers can appreciate the plot shifts I found fascinating his skill with the courtroom stratagems.

It is not a great book like Presumed Innocent or Innocent. It is a very good book. To say what reduced its status to me would result in a spoiler.

I do strongly recommend the book. Without preaching Identical will make a reader think about how the current American political election process is being powerfully swayed by the vast sums of money being spent to influence voters. Attack ad campaigns have become the norm.
 
Turow has written a modern Greek myth. (Mar. 19/14)
 

2 comments:

  1. Bill - Don't get me started on political action committees and the effect of huge amounts of money spent to influence campaigns. it is a serious issue and I"m glad Turow addresses it. And it's good to see that Sandy Stern has a role in this novel. I like him as a character.

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  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It is hard to understand from the North why America has evolved such an expensive political process.

    Sandy Stern's role is quite modest.

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