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Presumed Innocent (Kindle County Legal Thriller #1)

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  87,664 Ratings  ·  972 Reviews
In Presumed Innocent, Rusty Sabich, family man and the number-two prosecutor of Kindle County, is handed an explosive case -- the brutal murder of a woman who happens to be his former lover. A shocking turn of events suddenly transforms him from the accuser into the accused and plunges him into a nightmare world where nothing seems real and no one can be presumed innocent.
Hardcover, 431 pages
Published July 1st 1987 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published December 31st 1986)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I had this weird dream last night. I was at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and... here, let me give you my reconstruction...

HILLARY CLINTON: [on podium, in front of huge crowd] And now, our prosecutor is going to read out a list of indictments against my opponent, Donald Trump. I want you all to say whether you think he's innocent or... GUILTY!

PROSECUTOR: Thank you Hillary. Let's get started. Indictment one: sexual assault. Jill Harth recently accused Donald Trump o
Sep 11, 2013 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legal-thriller

An enjoyable legal thriller that really hits it stride in the courtroom and less so in the bits outside of the courtroom. I thought it was an interesting, and quite novel, idea to set the first pages after the murder has occurred and then fill in the blanks as you go along. A lot of back story was needed to get the reader up to speed and this is when things were a little slow and sometimes less interesting with the political campaign less absorbing but we know what is just around the corner.
Jul 30, 2011 Sheri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A renowned attorney in the DA's office is having an affair with a sex crimes attorney. When she turns up dead and it looks like rape, he is pinned as the murderer. The majority of the book takes place in the courtroom but it is by no means dull. You'll never guess who was the real killer!

At first, the book starts out as brash, crude and offensive at times because of the 'cop talk' banter. It was too explicit for my tastes and I nearly put the book down for good. I am glad I hung in there becaus
Scott Rhee
Jun 18, 2013 Scott Rhee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I met Scott Turow when he came to visit my college to promote "Presumed Innocent", which I thought was a great book at the time. I haven't read it in almost 20 years (Christ, has it been that long since I was in college?), but I remember some of the details in his writing that made him stand out from all the other best-selling thriller writers out there, most notably John Grisham. Both of them were inevitably compared to each other because of their courtroom settings and knowledge of the legal p ...more
Jane Stewart
3 stars. Some parts very good, I was eager to know what would happen. Other parts average.

Married prosecutor Rusty is accused of murdering his former lover. The first third of the book is what happens prior to the indictment. The last two-thirds is primarily the trial. It’s told in first person by Rusty.

This did not have the typical bad guy killer. I liked the unusual plot and motivations. I saw the movie several years ago and I remembered who did it, which was th
Sep 12, 2011 Michaela rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm surprised I didn't like this. The reader was pretty good, but I just didn't like the way the author wrote. There was too much back story dumping irrelevant data that detracted from the main story. I might have stuck with it longer, except I didn't like the main character enough.
Aug 15, 2010 Grant rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Some lawyers should become writers, others should not. Scott Turow falls squarely in the latter category. Once you realize that half this novel can be skipped, as it is useless exposition about characters the author fails to make sympathetic in the first place, it becomes a much shorter read. Combine that with the fact that half the character descriptions border on, if not delve fully into, racism, it may not be worth reading at all. (I'm sure Turow would say it's the character speaking and not ...more
Asghar Abbas
Feb 20, 2016 Asghar Abbas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Excellent, excellent, excellent. Even if it was saddled with a typical denouement. Still excellent.
Supratim Bose
Feb 08, 2016 Supratim Bose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books that I have read recently. It is a great legal thriller cum murder mystery.

The story is narrated by Rozat K. Sabich aka Rusty, chief deputy prosecutor of Kindle county who is also the protagonist. The story begins with the murder of Carolyn, another prosecuting attorney, with whom Rusty had an affair and never got over his obsession of her. Rusty gets the responsibility of investigating the crime but himself ends up getting accused of the murder and faces trial.

Ned Hayes
May 03, 2013 Ned Hayes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Presumed Innocent is one of those landmark books that really demonstrated to readers what a legal story, a "law novel" was actually capable of doing. Turow's work in this debut novel is so far above John Grisham's or Steve Martini's popular entertainments of legal "thrillers."

In this first novel, Turow really demonstrates the full reach and complexity of the human soul under duress. I admire the hell out of Turow for creating this complex story as his first breakthrough novel, and I so wish tha
Apr 27, 2010 Gaby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legal-thriller
I first read Presumed Innocent almost fifteen years ago. I'd been thinking of going to law school and Presumed Innocent is on the list of books that many law schools send you the summer before you begin studying. I remember thinking that the book spent more time on legal technicalities than the other thrillers that I'd read. Reading Presumed Innocent with an eye to joining the profession gave it a certain air as well.

Now after years as an entirely different sort of lawyer, the detective work, le
Jul 03, 2016 Donna rated it really liked it
Recommended to Donna by: crime genre study
Read Again 07/03/16 for Maze mystery book group.

I always remember whodunit, but here I forgot most of the surrounding facts. Truly some of the best courtroom scenes ever.

This book came out in 1987. At that time (and since) I was keeping track of my reading, however this does not appear on any list I have. But I remembered who-dun-it.

I have been a fan of Scott Turow's writing since 1981 when, just before entering law school, I read his "One L" -- a fantastic book. As a former federal prosecutor
B the BookAddict
Sep 15, 2013 B the BookAddict rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I must admit that I saw the movie first, then read the book. But the book is so much better. I love the fact that Turow is a lawyer writing about the law; he knows his stuff. Even taking that into account, Turow does not weigh the reader down with too much legalese, something that adds to the book's success. This novel was the first that I read of this author: but definitely not my last. 4 ...more
Jul 16, 2010 Lucca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are times when I read a paragraph again, not because I didn’t understand it but because the author uses language so beautifully. Scott Turow obviously delights in the use of the English language. Such delight would be wasted if he didn’t also come up aces in the plot and character department. He captured my attention from the start although not so much with the plot, at first, as with his acerbic descriptions of the characters. By the time I needed to figure out who did what, I knew who wa ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Kurt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have heard Scott Turow described as "the thinking man's John Grisham," and to the extent that the expression is a compliment, this debut novel justifies the praise. I had read two minor Turow novels before this one, so I was familiar with one of the minor characters (Turow sets his stories in the fictional Kindle County, and familiar faces pop up from book to book) and Turow's intriguing writing style: outside the courtroom, he tends to narrate in a poetic voice that employs an educated and pr ...more
Dec 18, 2011 Debra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The brutal murder of coworker, Carolyn Polhemus, has unnerved chief deputy prosecuting attorney, Rusty Sabich. Carolyn was a former lover, a woman who still preoccupied his thoughts, much to his shame. Rusty had confessed his adultery to his wife, and is trying hard to keep the marriage together for the sake of their son. His boss, Raymond Horgan, is in the midst of a campaign and wants Rusty in charge of Carolyn’s case, which puts him in an awkward position. But things go from awkward to shocki ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Well, here we go. Not a book I hate but a book that I couldn't get into. I would ordinarily go with 2 stars on a "I don't love and I don't hate it' book but for a couple of reasons I lift this one to 3. First the book did interest me at first and the author's writing is good. The 'voice" of the story telling character was at least at first interesting. Secondly there was a problem that might not effect other readers.

Now what didn't I care for...what killed my interest? I think there were a coupl
June Ahern
Presumed Innocent was one of my favorite books and the movie with Harrison Ford, also very good. So eagerly I began Scott Turow’s sequel, Innocent. It won't make my favorite book list.

Its 25 years later and attorney Rusty is still with his wife (if you didn’t read the first book I won’t say why I’m saying - really???? – that’s a stretch and as this story continues the stretch gets tighter and tighter.) Rusty just turned 60 with a party and all. And shortly after we read he still can’t keep his p
Mark Oppenlander
I first read this murder-mystery cum legal thriller back in college. At the time I was blown away by the twists and turns and the "gotcha" ending. It made me a life-long Scott Turow fan. Coming back to re-read it 20 years later, I found the plot more straightforward than I had recalled but was newly impressed by the depth and subtelty of the characterizations and the quality of the language.

For those unfamiliar with it, "Presumed Innocent" is the story of Rusty Sabich, a Deputy Prosecuting Attor
Voted #5 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America ( and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg. 27).
Found this at a used book sale for $1. Remembered that it was brilliant and I wanted to read it again with the murderer in mind, but that I had a severe caution on it. Decided to buy and read it once more and then sell it.

However, living in Rusty Sabich's head was so smutty and disgusting and icky that I just couldn't
Mark Soone
Jan 10, 2015 Mark Soone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legal-thriller
It must be close to 20 years or more since I had read this, and I found myself remembering very little.

I found the first quarter of the book very dry and flirted with the idea of scrapping this. But what turned out to be dry and tedious was really an elaborate and methodically woven background for the ensuing story and trial. It developed into one of the classic courtroom dramas, with one of the most deftly developed defense lawyers and story lines.

An prominent assistant prosecutor accused, of k
Dec 18, 2013 Britany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wbn
Rusty Sabich, chief prosecutor of Kindle County finds himself in hot water when Carolyn Polhemus, a recent lover and current colleague winds up murdered. Rusty gets the case, and before he knows what hits him, he ends up thrown into the ring and being tried for her murder.

Sandy Stern, hot shot defense attorney presents a solid case, and Rusty goes from the prosecution side to the defense side.

For me, this was a solid read, just a little slow for a legal thriller than I would've liked. I found m
Jul 31, 2015 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I thought I read this book a long time ago, or maybe I saw the movie starring Harrison Ford back in 1990. It turns out I did neither because after I read 5 chapters, I said there's no way I read this book or saw the movie, I would have remembered the story.
"Presumed Innocent" is a well-written story and one I found truly fascinating. The best part for me was the trial, but that doesn't happen until the 26th chapter. If you can hold on until then, you're in for a treat; the actual trial made me l
Barbara ★
Mar 30, 2009 Barbara ★ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rusty Sabich, a deputy prosecuting attorney, is ousted after his boss is defeated for re-election and Rusty's rival, Nico is elected as prosecuting attorney. The rape and murder of Carolyn Polhemus, Rusty
s mistress and another lawyer in the prosecutors office, is pinned on Rusty. His trial is the main focus of the book.

This is well written and has great surprises and an ending I truly did not see coming. I thought I had this one figured out early on but boy I was way off base.
Sep 04, 2007 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
Well, my wife, who is much better at this than I, guessed the true murder suspect long before I did, but even so, I think I would have been impressed by the richly conceived characters and complex plot. Turow is a truly gifted writer who brought his expertise of prosecution and criminal trials to bear on this breakthrough book.
Jun 21, 2013 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find it hard to believe that I haven't read this before. It certainly is in one of my favorite genres. The book approaches a 5 for me except for all the court drama. Yes, much of it is necessary, but at times, I felt like it went on and on. Turow is a good writer.
Feb 07, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. A classic. Read it. The movie was very faithful to the novel, so if you've seen it, the ending's blown for you.

If you haven't seen the movie you're very lucky to have one of the best mysteries ever written waiting for you.
Aug 01, 2014 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do enjoy a legal thriller every now and then, and this one was no disappointment. Taut and suspenseful courtroom drama, a spare, no-frills writing style that does in no way lack depth or perception, gritty, realistic dialogue, compelling secondary characters and a unique side story that looks at the political intrigues involved in campaigning for the prosecutor position in the county.

The conclusion (following the big reveal of "who did it?", which I actually did not see coming, but I am not a
Apr 09, 2010 Teechbiz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I normally do not read Scott Turow but I'd heard a little about the book so I decided to read it. This is an amazing book. the story is gripping. A real page turner
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Scott F. Turow is an American author and a practicing lawyer. Turow has written eight fiction and two nonfiction books, which have been translated into over 20 languages and have sold over 25 million copies. Movies have been based on several of his books.

* Kindle County Legal Thriller
More about Scott Turow...

Other Books in the Series

Kindle County Legal Thriller (9 books)
  • The Burden of Proof (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #2)
  • Pleading Guilty (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #3)
  • The Laws Of Our Fathers (Kindle County, #4)
  • Personal Injuries (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #5)
  • Reversible Errors (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #6)
  • Limitations (Kindle County, #7)
  • Innocent (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #8)
  • Identical (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #9)

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