About Me

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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.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

“T” is for Scott Turow

The community meme, the Alphabet in Crime Fiction, hosted by Kerrie on her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, is getting toward the end of the alphabet with the letter "T". My post for "T" is about the author, Scott Turow.


Turow was one of the first practising lawyer authors I read who wrote excellent legal mysteries. Since reading Presumed Innocent I have read several of his books.

He has a talent of creating complex fictional lawyers. They are both interesting as people and as lawyers. His most famous character, Rusty Sabich, is a flawed man especially with regard to his marriage. At the same time he is a principled judge seeking justice in his decisions.

Sandy Stern, the defence counsel for Sabich, is a clever subtle lawyer. He speaks eloquently, prepares extensively for court and remains objective about the fallibilities of clients.

As in real life Turow’s trials never actually proceed exactly as carefully planned. The twists confronting his lawyers are often striking but always credible. The need for a trial lawyer to react instantly to an unexpected answer or to change direction because of a ruling by the judge or to revise a position when a witness does not give expected evidence all happen in the courtroom.

His legal mysteries are set in Kindle County, a lot like Chicago where he was born and has spent his legal career.

I like Turow’s legal mysteries best. I did not find his book on the wartime, Ordinary Heroes, was not of the same calibre.

I expect I am somewhat biased as Turow is from my legal generation. He started law school in 1975 which was the year I graduated.

His non-fiction book, One L, about his first year in Harvard Law School, is the best known work on the experience of first year law. I regret to admit that I have not read the book so I cannot directly compare his first year at Harvard with my first year at the University of Saskatchewan.

Turow must be a remarkably disciplined man. He has practised law for 30 years mainly in white collar criminal defence while writing wonderful legal mysteries.

I read his latest legal mystery, Innocent, earlier this year. (Click on the title if you would like a link to the review.) It is a superb mature legal mystery.

Turow has a personal website which is http://www.scottturow.com/. Here is a link to a video of Turow talking with Michael Enright of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Innocent, in Toronto last year - http://wn.com/Scott_Turow_with_Michael_Enright__Part_2__Toronto_Reference_Library

He is justly recognized as a master of the legal mystery.


  1. Bill - I'm very glad you chose Scott Turow. His legal mysteries are really engaging, and I think, don't get the attention they deserve because of other legal thrillers that may not be as taut and well-crafted, but have been marketed well and have strong public appeal. It's also nice to hear from a lawyer that his stories are a solid picture of the legal world.

  2. Margot: Thank you for the kind comments. I expect the complexity of Turow's mysteries does not always work to his advantage in marketing.

  3. Great choice Bill. I find Turow's vision compelling because he shows a world full of compromise in shades of grey, not everyone's cup of teas probably. In some ways I even preferred INNOCENT to PRESUMED INNOCENT (it's a testament to the author's skill that he makes the sequel work without giving away the great twist that concludes the first one so the books can be read in any order, yet that knowledge of course adds so much to it at the same time).

  4. Thanks for the comment. I think grey is the favourite colour of lawyers.

  5. Well said Bill and so very true (I speak as a non-practicing lawyer).