THE BURDEN OF PROOF
The bad news is that the returning of Alejandro Stern, the canny defense attorney in Presumed Innocent, isn't nearly as devilishly twisty as he was in Turow's earlier megaseller. The good news is that Sandy Stem's own problems make for a compelling novel of a different sort. These problems surface when Sandy arrives home--preoccupied with his defense of his sister Silvia's husband (and Sandy's old school friend) Dixon Hartnack, whose coyly named commodities house, Maison Dixon, is under federal investigation for taking advantage of clients' futures orders to place illegal preemptive orders--to find that his wife Clara has killed herself. Why did his placid wife of 30 years commit suicide? What sort of prescription was filled for her only a short time before her death? And what could Clara's death have to do with the financial shenanigans of her Mephistophelean brother Dixon? Stumbling through grief and guilt, dredging up painful memories of his early meetings with Clara--he'd first been interested in her as a way to secure his position with her powerful father--and plunging into sexual escapades that eventually lead him to 40-ish federal attorney Sonia Klonsky, married, pregnant, and Dixon's principal nemesis, Sandy is stunned (and even farsighted readers will be too) to find how insidiously Dixon's troubles have twined themselves around Silvia and Sandy's children--Marta, Kate, and Peter. Although the whodunit question so prominent in Presumed Innocent is downplayed, Turow is a master at dramatizing legal complexities (Dixon deposits an incriminating safe with Sandy; Sandy warns him that he'll have to turn it over to the feds; Dixon steals it from the office; Sandy and a client break into Dixon's home to steal it back), and the last hundred pages of revelations about Sandy's decent, humane family are riveting. Despite a slow start and an overdose of middle-age angst, this complex, meditative novel is as richly entertaining as its predecessor. A surefire best-seller for summer--and on into the fall.