“The Burden of Proof’ by Scott Turow, Published by Penguin Books in 1991
Scott Turow had written an award-winning novel Presumed Innocent in 1987. In 1990, he released this second fiction The Burden of Proof that I picked up to read only recently. Scott Turow is a trained and practising lawyer. I was drawn to reading his other books because of Presumed Innocent where the plot, the twists and turns, and the cut and thrust in a court-room setting were so clearly written for a non-lawyer like me to follow the story-line.
The Burden of Proof revolves around the family of Sandy Stern, the defence lawyer who appeared in the earlier book – Presumed Innocent. Sandy had to face two major seemingly unrelated events. One was what appeared to be a suicide of his wife, Clara, when he returned home one late afternoon from an overseas trip on an assignment. The other was a subpoena for his brother-in-law Dixon Hartnell to appear before a United States grand jury to answer to charges of some illegal trades on commodities and futures exchanges. The story was not as simple. Sandy’s family of three grown-up children and a son-in-law had roles to play in this story.
The writer, Scott Turow, had me believe the obvious as he wrote the pages. The guilty parties and motives of actions appeared clear as day. But the obvious is not what it is. The suspense as the plot thickened was kept throughout until Part Three of the book when Scott Turow slowly peeled off layer and layer of veil of obscuration. The guilty parties and real reasons for individual acts of deception and final actions were plainly revealed. There is no doubt in my mind as to why events happened the way they did. The twists were complete and I believe the readers were fooled as intended by the author.
There was a closure for Sandy Stern who was in the centre of his family problem. He maintained his reputation as a honourable defence lawyer who will not do anything to circumvent the codes of professional ethics of his legal profession.
It was a pleasure to read all 582 pages of this novel. I did not feel at all labored. One page led to another and the story flow was easy to follow. There are not too many characters and Scott Turow wrote a tightly-knitted plot without superfluous passages.