Book Review: The Last Trial by Scott Turow

Available here
The Last Trial, as you may have surmised from the title is a legal thriller about a defense lawyer's final trial before retirement. However, that's not all it's about. Turow explores many themes in this weighty novel, but the essence of the case involves accusations of murder, insider dealing and faked cancer drug trial results. 

Here's the blurb:

From the bestselling author of Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow’s The Last Trial recounts the final case of Kindle County’s most revered courtroom advocate, Sandy Stern.
Already eighty-five years old, and in precarious health, Stern has been persuaded to defend an old friend, Kiril Pafko. A former Nobel Prize-winner in Medicine, Pafko, shockingly, has been charged in a federal racketeering indictment with fraud, insider trading and murder.
As the trial progresses, Stern will question everything he thought he knew about his friend. Despite Pafko's many failings, is he innocent of the terrible charges laid against him? How far will Stern go to save his friend, and — no matter the trial's outcome — will he ever know the truth? Stern's duty to defend his client and his belief in the power of the judicial system both face a final, terrible test in the courtroom, where the evidence and reality are sometimes worlds apart.
Full of the deep insights into the spaces where the fragility of human nature and the justice system collide, Scott Turow's The Last Trial is a masterful legal thriller that unfolds in page-turning suspense — and questions how we measure a life.

My Thoughts

I was initially drawn to this book because it's not often you get a main protagonist in his eighties. In fact it's not often you get a main protagonist older than their fifities. I'm always drawn to novels that represent wider society and I think this one did. 

Sandy Stern is eighty-three years old, but whilst skillfully characterising the signs of the aging process on his charcater, Turow also skillfully manages to show us a man who is more than the some of his years. he is still mentally agile, still has sexual thoughts, still contemplates relationships - in short 'there's life in the old dog yet'.

Whilst in parts I skimmed over some of the technicalities of the courtroom scenes which were a little too detailed for me, I relished the interactions between Stern  and the jury and the witnesses. Outside the courtroom, Stern's backstory as an Argentinian immagrant to the USA was nuanced. He may be living the American Dream, but at what cost?

The character I was most drawn to was the eccentric, slightly erratic , irresponsible Pinky, Stern's granddaughter. We see a delightful character arc in her and i hope to read more of huer in a future Turow novel. Dismissed and frowned upon by the extended family, Pinky is delightfully off centre, definately under estimated and provides light relief from the serious matters of a defense trial.

The accused and his family are slowly laid bare and I think this is very skillfully done in well placed revelations throughout the novel. 

Overall a well earned 4* from me.