The first section of the book alternates between the period before her death and the present day. The time before explores the dynamics of a failed marriage that never ended. The current time sees the investigation into death becoming a murder investigation closing in on Sabich. What had seemed a natural death is rendered impossible by the powerful drugs taken by the mentally unstable Barbara.
Rusty is a flawed man. Turow explores a 60 year old man indulging himself while seeking to conceal his infidelity. Turow skillfully explores the affair.
The second half of the book is Turow at his most brilliant. An ailing Sandy Stern returns for the defence. Nat has an active role in the trial.
No one portrays an American trial better than Turow. He has mastered the challenge of being faithful to the rules governing criminal trials while creating interesting testimony. I defy a reader not to race through the trial. You cannot see a Turow trial twist coming though all are logical. You feel yourself in the courtroom watching the questioning and considering strategies. Effective trial lawyers adjust to unexpected developments. Molto and Stern skillfully react to the ebb and flow of the evidence. No trial ever goes exactly as planned.
In Barbara there is a powerful victim a part of every page.
There has never been a legal mystery/thriller that better combined the experiences of a family and the drama of a major criminal trial. A deeply flawed family remains together as they struggle forward on life’s journey.
It is a great book deserving of its acclaim. (Mar. 9/11)