Review of “Identical” by Scott Turow

Note: This review is by my husband Jim.

Scott Turow has written another convoluted mystery set in fictional Kindle County, somewhere in the Midwest. Most of the narrative takes place in 2008, but the plot revolves around the murder of a beautiful young girl in 1982. Two of the main characters are brothers – identical twins, one of whom, Cass, had been the victim’s boyfriend and who has just been released from prison after serving 25 years for the murder. Meanwhile, the other brother, Paul, has become a very successful lawyer who is now running for mayor. All of the principle actors are of Greek descent, and there had been bad blood between the families of the victim and the brothers before the murder.

scott-turow-identical-71

The victim’s elder brother is a fabulously rich developer of shopping centers, who very much wants to prevent Paul from becoming mayor. Accordingly, he launches a vicious advertising campaign to implicate him in the murder for which his twin brother just spent 25 years in a minimum security prison.

Discussion: For the first hundred pages or so, while Turow is fleshing out the dramatis personae, the reader suspects that the plot may unfold to reveal that the wrong brother went to prison. The ultimate resolution is much more complicated than that, however, with the plot taking a number of unexpected and interesting twists and turns. Indeed, the plot could be seen as a retelling of a Greek myth – I hesitate to say which one, lest it be too spoilery. I will only say the dead girl’s father is named Zeus, and as for the twins named Cass and Paul, whose mother is named Lydia – well, if you remember your Greek mythology, you can figure it out. If you don’t, I would advise avoiding refreshing your memory until after you finish the book.

Kindle County seems less like Chicago and Cook County than in previous Turow novels. But his description of the Greco-American culture there is spot-on to the Chicago Greek community. It should be noted however, that all the characters are well developed, with very little stereotyping.

Turow is always adept at correctly and accurately describing legal procedures, although they are less pivotal to the story here than in, say, Presumed Innocent or Reversible Errors. In this book, he must master the intricacies of the state of DNA and blood testing in both 1982 and 2008. I can’t speak with authority on the accuracy of his science, but it seems plausible.

Evaluation: This is a well crafted novel, definitely more intelligent than standard “airplane reading.”

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, 2013

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About rhapsodyinbooks

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8 Responses to Review of “Identical” by Scott Turow

  1. Jayde-Ashe says:

    Great review, sounds like an intriguing book.

  2. ” Kindle County” and I thought they were made in China…LOL
    (Sorry Jill, I couldn’t resist).

  3. He has never been able to write a decent follow-up to Presumed Innocent. Whereas many authors improve with each book, I think that he did not. I do admit, though, that I stopped only a couple of books after PI.

  4. His books always keep me riveted.

  5. Beth F says:

    Ever since I heard about this at BEA I’ve been wanting to read it. It might suit my current mood. I wonder if it’s out in audio.

  6. sagustocox says:

    still haven’t read any by this author, but I have a feeling I know which myth you are talking about.

  7. Rita K says:

    I haven’t read Turow for quite awhile, but may pick this up. Jim usually knows what he is talking about. 😉

  8. litandlife says:

    Turow is a writer I used to read a lot of and I’m not really sure why I stopped. Maybe got a little snobby about my reading? Seems I really do need to get off my high horse and get wrapped up in a mystery.

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