Sunday, March 15, 2009

Continuing my foray into legal thrillers, I just finished Reversible Errors by Scott Turow.

Reversible Errors tells the story of the last appeal of a death row convict, split evenly between the lawyer leading the appeal and the prosecutors arguing for the execution to proceed. In the first part of the book it flashes back and forth between the time of the initial crime and prosecution and the period leading up to the execution.

Following on reading Gresham and Martini, Turow is a revelation, and an order of magnitude better than either of the others. The characters in this book are subtle, complex and fully developed people, in stark contrast to the other authors hollow, two dimensional attempts at characters. Not only are they as believable as a real person you might meet, but there actions are as well. This gives the plot a flavour of truth lacking in the other books.

Like Gresham's The Runaway Jury, Reversible Errors is built around a single issue - in this case, the death penalty. But while Gresham gives, at best, a straw man argument on the other side, caricatured villians and uses the entire book to bash tobacco companies, Turow has a complex story to tell that leaves one with an uncomfortable feeling about the death penalty even though the participants on both sides are well meaning, sincere advocates. The book doesn't make one explicit argument about the death penalty, instead leaving it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions.

Overall, an excellent book and highly recommended.

The previous two posts in this series on legal thrillers are here and here.

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