Presumed Innocent Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 51 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Presumed Innocent.
This section contains 505 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Presumed Innocent Summary & Study Guide Description

Presumed Innocent Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow.

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, is often proclaimed as a breakthrough novel in the genre of courtroom dramas or mysteries. Published in 1987, it was the first novel by Turow, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and it does venture well outside the action-driven plotting of much genre fiction. Several of Turow's later works were filmed, as was this book, and he has become one of America's most commercially successful authors. Novels that are written in recognizable genres such as adventure, romance, mystery, or fantasy often do not place great emphasis on character development, which is the hallmark of so-called literary fiction. Instead, genre novels tend to concentrate on the development and rapid-paced movement of the plot and on creating a vivid atmosphere. When a novel that fits into a genre also presents highly developed and believable characters, it is liable to be praised as a breakthrough book as was this one. As the book opens, an election is underway for prosecuting attorney in the fictional Kindle County. The chief deputy prosecuting attorney is Rusty Sabich, the book's protagonist and narrator. He is quickly sketched as talented, intelligent, and nobody's fool, yet loyal to his boss, Raymond Horgan, who is running for reelection. Horgan is drawn as a sharp and self-interested politician but also a highly capable attorney, which Rusty admires. They have worked together for twelve years. Rusty has a wife, Barbara, and a young son, Nat. He loves them both but is having difficulties with his wife, especially since Rusty's affair with a coworker, Carolyn Polhemus, who now has been murdered apparently by a rapist.

Rusty heads the investigation into Carolyn's killing with his police partner and friend, Dan Lipranzer. Meanwhile, Horgan loses the election to Nico Della Guardia, a former employee whom Rusty fired. Lipranzer and Rusty are in the process of assembling evidence when Rusty is told by Nico that he is the prime suspect and that he will be charged with the crime. Surprisingly, it looks as though Rusty's boss, Horgan, will testify against Rusty. Much of the second half of the book takes place in the courtroom. Rusty's personal life at home and his out-of-court investigations continue in chapters that alternate with the courtroom scenes, a novelistic strategy that moves the plot forward even as he provides ample space for further development of Rusty's personality and background. A subplot involving a law enforcement corruption case is pursued by Rusty and Lipranzer throughout much of the book because of its potential to shed light on the murder of Carolyn. The development of this subplot causes the number of murder suspects to widen even as the case against Rusty becomes increasingly weaker. In classic mystery fashion, the question of Rusty's guilt has been compounded by questions concerning several other characters until the disclosure that might stun some readers and might leave others less surprised, yet still wondering how it all happened. On all counts, this fast-paced, insightful, and meticulously realistic novel of the legal world does not disappoint.

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