Reversible Errors: A Novel
|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
Rommy “Squirrel” Gandolph is a Yellow Man, an inmate on death row for a 1991 triple murder in Kindle County. His slow progress toward certain execution is nearing completion when Arthur Raven, a corporate lawyer who is Rommy’s reluctant court-appointed representative, receives word that another inmate may have new evidence that will exonerate Gandolph.
Arthur’s opponent in the case is Muriel Wynn, Kindle County’s formidable chief deputy prosecuting attorney, who is considering a run for her boss’s job. Muriel and Larry Starczek, the original detective on the case, don’t want to see Rommy escape a fate they long ago determined he deserved, for a host of reasons. Further complicating the situation is the fact that Gillian Sullivan, the judge who originally found Rommy guilty, is only recently out of prison herself, having served time for taking bribes.
Scott Turow’s compelling, multi-dimensional characters take the reader into Kindle County’s parallel yet intersecting worlds of police and small-time crooks, airline executives and sophisticated scammers—and lawyers of all stripes. No other writer offers such a convincing true-to-life picture of how the law and life interact, or such a profound understanding of what is at stake—personally, professionally, and morally—when the state holds the power to end a man’s life.
Arthur Raven, more versed in corporate law than criminal defense, is not eager to accept the court-appointed task of handling death-row inmate “Squirrel” Gandolph’s last-minute appeal of his murder conviction. Fast approaching middle age, Arthur has come to terms with the burdens and disappointments of his life, among which are a schizophrenic sister for whom he is responsible and the realization that he will probably never make an enduring connection with a woman. But when evidence surfaces that might exonerate his client, he rises to the occasion with a quiet determination to see justice done. Facing a formidable prosecuting attorney and her former lover, the policeman whose testimony convinced Judge Gillian Sullivan to find Squirrel guilty, Arthur’s persistence not only wins his client a temporary reprieve from execution but also endears him to Sullivan, who has fallen on hard times since Squirrel’s trial—fresh out of prison herself for taking bribes, she is a most unlikely candidate for Arthur’s affections. Scott Turow’s masterful characterization of complex and multidimensional people catalyzed by events into searching reexamination of their own motives and ambitions is matched by the intricacies of his plot, which itself is well served by his insider’s knowledge of the criminal justice system and his extraordinary understanding of the vagaries of the human heart. The prose is luminescent, the narrative compelling, and the moral implications of Arthur’s personal and professional choices beautifully articulated. This is a tour de force for a novelist writing at the top of his game. —Jane Adams