Scott Turow’s legal thrillers always have the ring of truth about them: solid, real and based on sound background knowledge. The latest, Identical, is no exception. The author knows his legal procedure inside out, and isn’t afraid to share his extensive research with the reader. By the end of this novel, I felt I was far better informed about the American court system, DNA evidence and city politics, not to mention Greek family life – and that was as well as having read a gripping tale.
It’s a rich, weighty read, and the pace of the narrative appears to match the progress of an investigation: in the early chapters while information and evidence are being gathered, it’s steady, unhurried and full of detail; then as the pieces fall into place and the investigators chase down the wrongdoers it moves faster and with more urgency.
The story gets under way as a man convicted of murdering his girlfriend twenty-five years earlier is released at the end of his prison sentence. His victim’s brother is determined to prove that the man’s identical twin was also involved, and sets a former FBI agent and an ageing private eye on the case.
But this is Scott Turow, remember: as well as a simple investigation there’s a lot more going on. The narrative is set against a background of local government and the politics involved. It’s 2008, when the American economy, especially the housing and construction business, was about to implode. In addition there’s a whole web of complex family issues, tangled still further by the unique traditions and emotional nuances of the Greek community.
What really brings the story to life, of course, is the large cast of richly drawn characters, many of them laden with baggage and backstories which are only tenuously related to the main story, but still add depth and texture.
Turow’s technique of slotting in an occasional flashback to the scene of the original crime helps the reader to piece the clues together and feel one step ahead of the investigators much of the time – but the truth is never simple, and there’s still a surprise or two in store when it finally comes out.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Scott Frederick Turow was born April 12, 1949. He is an American author and a practicing lawyer. Turow has written nine fiction and two nonfiction books, which have been translated into over 40 languages and have sold over 30 million copies Movies have been based on several of his books.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.
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