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Scott Turow, Reversible Errors

Reversible Errors coverScott Turow again shows why he is the best writer of legal thrillers in America today. Grisham has made a career of writing the same book every year. But he's got nothing. Turow writes believable characters. About the only drawback to his writing is the schemes his characters attempt are overly intricate. But even then, I don't feel put out by extreme coincidence in them. That's one of my beefs about most mysteries and legal thrillers. The huge amount of coincidence we are asked to accept in the name of suspending disbelief. Turow doesn't make a reader do that.

Reversible Errors tells the story of Rommy Gandolph, an itinerant who will shortly be executed for a murder in 1992. The year is 2002 and Arthur Raven has just been press-ganged into being Gandolph's lawyer for what looks to be his last appeal before he is executed. He gets a break when an inmate in prison confesses to having committed the crime. However, his tale is discounted and Gandolph's appeal is denied. The courts have put a lot of stock in Gandolph's confession from years ago.

Our cast of characters includes:

  • Rommy Gandolph, a man too stupid to save his own neck. He could have brought out evidence that would have made it much harder to convict him, but he didn't.
  • Muriel Wynn, the up and coming Deputy Prosecutor who made her career on Gandolph's conviction.
  • Larry Starczek, the detective who convinced Gandolph to confess. He's become emotionally attached to the verdict and needs to believe that Gandolph was guilty. Unfortunately for him, he's got a lot of emotional baggage tied up in everything, due mostly to the fact that he occasionally bedded Muriel Wynn and loves her.
  • Arthur Raven, Gandolph's reluctant lawyer. Altruistic to the core, he holds onto his representation of Gandolph to begin to put meaning into his life.
  • Gillian Sullivan, the judge who originally convicted Gandolph. She comes to Raven with information that another man claims to have done the deed. In the 10 years since, she's been convicted of taking bribes in civil cases and the state has recently released her from prison. She struggles to build a new life for herself, but is racked by guilt over her failures.
  • Erno Erdai, the former head of security for the employer of one of the victims Gandolph was convicted of killing. He comes forward to say he committed the crime. He knows the details, but he's not entirely interested in telling the truth even though he will imminently die from cancer and wants to atone for his sins. He had roped his nephew into providing evidence against Gandolph, and doesn't want to see the nephew's life ruined for providing false evidence.

Unfortunately for Gandolph, there is ample evidence he is guilty of the crimes. But was he the only person involved? And who else was? And why?

Most of the characters act extremely selfishly in this story. But none act alone in self-interest. Most connive to protect someone else very dear to them. For Erdai, it is his nephew. Starczek wants to protect Muriel. Muriel wants to protect Starczek. Raven to protect Sullivan. But even then, with the exception of Raven, all also are looking to save themselves. Each is hiding something. Nevertheless, with Turow's excellent storytelling, I was hard-pressed to think of any of them as a villain, in spite of each's lies and misdeeds.

Overall, an excellent book I heartily recommend to anyone.

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