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19 October 2013

Scott Turow: Identical

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Clever and well plotted "Whodunnit"
While there are some courtroom scenes this is not your normal Scott Thurow legal thriller. It is a very clever "Whodunnit" using the theme of identical twins, mistaken identities and family feuds.

Cass and Paul Giannis are identical twins, and in 1982 one is a police cadet and the other a budding lawyer. They attend a party at the house of their father's greatest rival, Zeus Kronon, who is the father of Dita, Cass's girlfriend. That night Dita is murdered and the crime scene is compromised by the Kronons' actions and poor police procedures. Blood of a different type to Dita's is at the scene because someone broke a window but in 1982 there is only blood typing, no DNA matching. After a poor police and FBI investigation, Cass comes forward and confesses and hopes to get a plea bargain for 10 years in a low security prison. Zeus agrees to the latter but argues for and gets a 20 year sentence.

Roll on 20 years and Cass is coming up for parole after being an almost perfect prisoner. Paul's career has blossomed into the State Senate and he is in the middle of a campaign for Mayor. By that time Hal Kronon, Dita's brother has become mega-rich and has never forgiven the twins for what he believes is their perceived complicity in the crime. Hal unsuccessfully appeals against parole and publicly accuses Paul of aiding in the murder which tarnishes Paul's election hopes. Hal also hires an ex FBI agent and a PI (who was a homicide detective on the original case) to reopen the murder case on their own. Their story is also crucial to the plot.

The first few chapters set the scene for a family feud, a political bun-fight and a re-examination of the crime using modern technology to see if the correct person was convicted of the murder. But this is not really central the case because the major action happens later, especially with some astounding revelations about halfway and so many twists and turns that I had to revisit the last few chapters to really understand what had happened and what was unfolding.

Scott Turow has taken the themes of identical twins and Greek family dynasties and built a most enjoyable "Whodunnit" which keeps you guessing right to the end.

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