Talking to Scott Turow about ‘Suspect’, favorite shows, and more
Scott Turow is one of my favorite authors, and his book Presumed Innocent remains my benchmark for the best courtroom thrillers. Turow’s 2020 book, The Last Trial, introduced us to Pinky, the quirky granddaughter of lawyer extraordinaire Sandy Stern, and in his new novel, Suspect, Pinky takes center stage in a case that involves a female police chief accused of abusing her power. We chose Suspect as an editors’ pick for one of the Best Mysteries of September, as Turow once again drew us in with a tale of corruption, digital spying, sex, and power.
Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor: When did you start writing Suspect?
This is a bit of a different take on the theme of power and sexuality that’s been part of your books from the beginning….
It's a different take because the legal interpretation is there and basically, one of the lines that keeps recurring in the novel is, “Well, it would be wrong if a man did it,” and that's got to be the law’s position, to be gender blind, but everyone who's been exposed to the realities of the world realizes that gender does make some things different. I don't think this gives away too much to say Pinky's client, Lucia “Lucy” Gomez, is a police chief in small town, accused by three officers of soliciting sex in exchange for promotions, and Pinky says from the beginning, “Well, that's ridiculous, because how is she going to force three men when they're each armed with a .38?” And that's part of it. It’s certainly true that Lucy has the power, but gender, and everything that goes with it, does add a whole different layer to the investigation and the supposed crimes.
I have tremendous respect for police officers. I think they have an unbelievably hard job, and I’ve seen a lot of their world; I’ve seen it go wrong, and I understand a lot of the challenges they face. I had a death penalty case where I was representing a man who was innocent—that's not a good situation—and I had an informant in that police department who was as frank as any officer I've ever dealt with, and he said, “Look, I'm not going to tell you that cops don't tighten up the evidence against a guilty guy, but nobody thinks it's right to frame somebody for murder.” Understanding the ethics of police work is something I gained over the years as a lawyer. It’s a very hard job.
I will tell you, and I said this to David in all sincerity, that even I was shocked by the ending of the pilot—he's got some very, very clever tricks up his sleeve. I'm literally excited to see how it's going to turn out, but you know, J.J. [Abrams] and David are kind of a power couple in LA, and I think they'll attract a first-rate cast. So, fingers crossed, but you never really know what's happening until you see the film.
Do you watch many streaming shows?
As a couple, Adriane and I like to settle on something and dig in. We both read a lot too, but it's much harder to read a book together. So, the streaming series in particular has been something we've managed to really enjoy together, and there's just a lot of quality stuff on TV.
Do you feel a sense of relief when you finish a book?
Do you know what you’re doing next, have you already started your next book?
I don’t know…should I say this out loud? I’m working on another book about Rusty Sabich.
Wow! Oh, that’s so exciting!
I’m so far along that I doubt I can turn back now, so that’s probably what the next book will be. It’s weird the way that voice just lives inside of me…it’s just automatic.
I’m so glad that he’s still there for you.
He is, he’s a couple years older than his creator, so he’s probably even deeper in the woes of advancing age, but he’s still quite vital and trying to make his way in the world, albeit in a different locale.
I’ll start bugging my pals at Hachette for that.
It’s going to be awhile…but a lot of good stuff is happening right about now.
When you're blessed to have had a career as long as I've had, you try to take the high points in stride because you know there are going to be low points, it's just inevitable. But it's clearly a good time for me right now, a lot of good things are happening.
Author photo credit: Kuba Luczkiewicz