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Benjamin Bennett
Benjamin Bennett

Presumed Innocent: Scott Turow's Debut Novel That Shocked and Captivated Readers



# Presumed Innocent: A Gripping Legal Thriller by Scott Turow - Introduction - Hook the reader with a brief summary of the plot and the main characters - Mention the author, the genre, and the publication date of the novel - Provide a thesis statement that expresses the main idea of the article - Body Paragraph 1: The Setting and the Context - Describe the fictional Kindle County, where the novel takes place - Explain the political and legal environment of the county, and how it affects the characters and the plot - Provide some background information on Scott Turow and his experience as a prosecutor and a writer - Body Paragraph 2: The Characters and Their Motivations - Analyze the protagonist, Rusty Sabich, and his complex personality, relationships, and conflicts - Discuss the other main characters, such as Carolyn Polhemus, Raymond Horgan, Nico Della Guardia, Tommy Molto, and Sandy Stern - Explain how each character contributes to the development of the themes and the suspense of the novel - Body Paragraph 3: The Plot and Its Twists - Summarize the main events of the novel, from the discovery of Carolyn's murder to Rusty's trial and verdict - Highlight the most surprising and shocking twists that keep the reader engaged and guessing - Comment on how Turow uses foreshadowing, clues, red herrings, and unreliable narration to create a compelling mystery - Body Paragraph 4: The Themes and Their Implications - Identify and explain the main themes of the novel, such as justice, corruption, betrayal, obsession, guilt, and innocence - Provide examples from the novel that illustrate how these themes are explored and challenged - Discuss how these themes relate to contemporary issues and dilemmas in society and in law - Conclusion - Restate the thesis statement and summarize the main points of the article - Evaluate the novel's strengths and weaknesses, and its impact on readers and critics - End with a call to action or a question that invites further discussion or reflection Now that I have an outline, I will start writing based on it step by step. Here is my article: # Presumed Innocent: A Gripping Legal Thriller by Scott Turow Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be accused of a crime you did not commit? How would you prove your innocence in a system that is rigged against you? How would you cope with the consequences of your past actions and decisions? These are some of the questions that Scott Turow explores in his debut novel, Presumed Innocent. Published in 1987, Presumed Innocent is a legal thriller that tells the story of Rusty Sabich, a prosecutor who is charged with the murder of his colleague and former lover, Carolyn Polhemus. The novel is narrated by Rusty himself, who takes us through his investigation, his arrest, his trial, and his shocking discovery of the truth. Along the way, we meet a cast of intriguing characters who have their own secrets and agendas. Presumed Innocent is not only a riveting mystery, but also a profound examination of human nature, morality, and justice. ## The Setting and the Context The novel is set in Kindle County, a fictional place that resembles Chicago in many ways. Kindle County is a place where politics and law are intertwined, where corruption and power are rampant, where loyalty and trust are scarce. The novel begins with an election campaign for district attorney between Raymond Horgan, Rusty's boss and mentor, and Nico Della Guardia, Rusty's former friend and rival. The outcome of this election will determine not only Rusty's career prospects, but also his fate as a murder suspect. As Rusty says in the opening sentence of the novel: "The worst thing about death must be that first night." The first night after Carolyn's death is also the first night after Horgan's defeat. Scott Turow knows this setting well because he was a prosecutor himself for eight years in Chicago. He also studied creative writing at Stanford University before attending Harvard Law School. He wrote Presumed Innocent while working as a lawyer during his spare time. He drew inspiration from his own cases, colleagues, clients, and experiences. He also did extensive research on forensic science, criminal law, trial procedures, and jury behavior. As a result, he created a realistic and detailed portrait of the legal system and its inner workings. ## The Characters and Their Motivations The novel is driven by its characters, who are complex, flawed, and fascinating. Rusty Sabich is the protagonist, but he is not a typical hero. He is a smart, ambitious, and successful prosecutor, but he is also a troubled, insecure, and unhappy man. He is married to Barbara, a beautiful and intelligent woman, but he is also unfaithful to her. He had an affair with Carolyn Polhemus, a stunning and charismatic prosecutor, but he was also rejected by her. He is loyal to Raymond Horgan, his boss and friend, but he is also tempted by Nico Della Guardia, his opponent and enemy. He is confident in his abilities, but he is also haunted by his doubts. He is innocent of murder, but he is also guilty of many other things. The other characters are equally compelling and contradictory. Carolyn Polhemus is the victim, but she is not a saint. She is a brilliant and talented prosecutor, but she is also a ruthless and manipulative woman. She used her sexuality and charm to advance her career and to get what she wanted from men. She had relationships with Rusty, Horgan, Della Guardia, and others, but she never loved any of them. She was killed by a brutal blow to the head, but she was also involved in a dangerous scheme that put her life at risk. Raymond Horgan is the incumbent district attorney, but he is not a leader. He is a decent and honest man, but he is also a weak and ineffective politician. He lost his re-election bid to Nico Della Guardia, who was once his protege and ally. He trusted Rusty as his right-hand man, but he also betrayed him by having an affair with Carolyn. He wanted to solve Carolyn's murder, but he also failed to protect Rusty from being framed. Nico Della Guardia is the new district attorney, but he is not a reformer. He is a charismatic and popular figure, but he is also a corrupt and vindictive person. He won the election by promising to clean up the office and the county, but he also used dirty tricks and lies to achieve his goal. He hated Rusty for being Horgan's favorite and for sleeping with Carolyn, so he decided to ruin his life by charging him with murder. He claimed to seek justice for Carolyn, but he also concealed evidence that could exonerate Rusty. Tommy Molto is the deputy district attorney who prosecutes Rusty's case, but he is not a professional. He is a loyal and diligent lawyer, but he is also an obsessive and biased one. He believed that Rusty was guilty from the start, and he refused to consider any other possibility. He collected and presented evidence that pointed to Rusty's guilt, but he also ignored and suppressed evidence that suggested otherwise. He wanted to win the case at all costs, even if it meant violating the rules of ethics and fairness. Alejandro "Sandy" Stern is the defense attorney who represents Rusty in his trial, but he is not a friend. He is an elegant and eloquent lawyer, but he is also a cold and distant one. He agreed to take Rusty's case because it was a challenge and an opportunity for him, not because he cared about him or his innocence. He defended Rusty with skill and passion, but he also exploited his weaknesses and secrets. He saved Rusty from conviction, but he also exposed him to humiliation. ## The Plot and Its Twists The novel follows the structure of a classic whodunit: a crime is committed; a suspect is identified; an investigation is conducted; clues are gathered; suspects are interrogated; evidence is analyzed; a trial takes place; witnesses are questioned; arguments are made; a verdict is reached; a solution is revealed. However, Turow adds several twists and turns that make the plot unpredictable and suspenseful. The first twist occurs when Rusty discovers that Carolyn was murdered in her apartment on the night of Horgan's defeat. Rusty had visited her earlier that evening to talk about the election results and their past relationship. They had an argument that ended with Carolyn slapping him in the face. Rusty left her apartment in anger and went home to his wife. The next morning, he was assigned to investigate her murder by Horgan himself. The second twist occurs when Rusty finds out that Carolyn had been involved in a corruption scandal involving several judges who took bribes from organized crime figures in exchange for favorable rulings. One of these judges was Larren Lyttle, who presided over Rusty's trial. Carolyn had been gathering evidence against these judges for Della Guardia's campaign, hoping to expose them after the election. However, someone leaked this information to the press before she could do so. with Carolyn and had confronted her on the phone the night of her murder. Barbara had threatened to kill Carolyn if she ever saw Rusty again. Barbara had also been taking antidepressants and sleeping pills that could have impaired her judgment and memory. Rusty realized that Barbara could have killed Carolyn in a fit of rage and jealousy, and then forgotten about it. The fourth twist occurs when Rusty is arrested and charged with murder by Della Guardia and Molto. They claim to have overwhelming evidence against him, such as his fingerprints on a glass in Carolyn's apartment, his semen on her bed sheets, his blood on her bathroom sink, and his hair on her body. They also have a motive for him: he was angry and jealous that Carolyn had dumped him and had moved on to other men, including Della Guardia. The fifth twist occurs when Rusty goes to trial and is defended by Stern. Stern manages to cast doubt on the prosecution's evidence and witnesses, and to present an alternative theory of the crime. He suggests that Carolyn was killed by someone who knew about her corruption investigation and wanted to silence her. He also implies that Della Guardia and Molto were involved in the cover-up and the frame-up of Rusty. The sixth twist occurs when Rusty is acquitted by the jury, who find him not guilty of murder. Rusty is relieved and grateful, but he is also confused and dissatisfied. He still does not know who killed Carolyn and why. He also does not know what to do with his life after the trial. He has lost his job, his reputation, his friends, and his family. The seventh twist occurs when Rusty discovers the truth about Carolyn's murder from an unexpected source: his son, Nat. Nat confesses to Rusty that he was the one who killed Carolyn. He explains that he had followed Rusty to Carolyn's apartment on the night of the murder, hoping to see what she looked like. He saw Rusty leave in anger, and then he saw Carolyn come out of her apartment. He followed her to a nearby park, where he tried to talk to her. She rejected him and insulted him, calling him a "little bastard". He snapped and hit her with a hatchet that he had found in a trash can. He then dragged her body back to her apartment, where he staged the scene to look like a sexual assault. He also planted some of Rusty's belongings in her apartment to implicate him. Rusty is shocked and horrified by Nat's confession. He realizes that Nat inherited his violent temper and his obsession with Carolyn from him. He also realizes that Nat was trying to protect him from Barbara, whom he suspected of killing Carolyn. Rusty decides to keep Nat's secret and to take him away from Kindle County. He hopes to start a new life with him somewhere else. ## The Themes and Their Implications Presumed Innocent is not just a thrilling novel; it is also a thought-provoking one. It explores several themes that are relevant and important in today's society and in law. Some of these themes are: - Justice: The novel questions the fairness and effectiveness of the legal system, which is supposed to uphold justice for all. It shows how the system can be corrupted by political interests, personal agendas, human errors, and hidden biases. It also shows how the system can fail to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. - Corruption: The novel exposes the corruption that pervades Kindle County, from the judges who take bribes, to the prosecutors who manipulate evidence, to the politicians who lie and cheat. It shows how corruption can undermine the rule of law and erode public trust. - Betrayal: The novel depicts the betrayal that occurs among the characters, who are supposed to be friends, colleagues, or lovers. It shows how betrayal can destroy relationships and lives. - Obsession: The novel illustrates the obsession that drives some of the characters, especially Rusty and Nat. It shows how obsession can blind them to reality and morality. - Guilt: The novel explores the guilt that haunts some of the characters, especially Rusty and Barbara. It shows how guilt can affect their mental health and their behavior. - Innocence: The novel challenges the concept of innocence, which is often presumed or assumed in law and in life. It shows how innocence can be lost or tainted by circumstances or actions. Presumed Innocent is a novel that makes us think about these themes and their implications for ourselves and for others. It makes us wonder: How do we define justice? How do we fight corruption? How do we cope with betrayal? How do we control obsession? How do we deal with guilt? How do we prove innocence? ## Conclusion Presumed Innocent is a novel that deserves its reputation as one of the best legal thrillers ever written. It is a novel that combines a gripping plot, a complex protagonist, a realistic setting, and a profound message. It is a novel that keeps us hooked and haunted until the end. It is a novel that we should all read and remember. ### FAQs - Q: Who wrote Presumed Innocent? - A: Scott Turow, a former prosecutor and a bestselling author. - Q: When was Presumed Innocent published? - A: In 1987, by Farrar Straus & Giroux. - Q: What genre is Presumed Innocent? - A: Legal thriller, crime fiction. - Q: What is the main theme of Presumed Innocent? - A: The main theme is justice, and how it can be compromised or denied by various factors. - Q: Is Presumed Innocent based on a true story? - A: No, but it is inspired by Turow's own experience as a prosecutor and his knowledge of the legal system.




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