This very good book is not much of a legal “thriller” by anyone’s measure. It’s more of a thinking person’s legal mystery – a drama concerning the complexities of life and the law.
The Last Trial
by Scott Turow
2020 / 453 pages
read by John Bedford Lloyd 15h 55m
rating: A+/ legal mystery
One old geezer, Dr. Kiril Pafko, age 78, is on trial for homicide as well as financial shenanigans while his best friend, Alejandro “Sandy” Stern, age 85, is defending him. Stern has appeared in Turow’s work many times as has the setting of Kindle County Mississippi. This is Stern’s last trial – it’s long and exhausting in many many ways especially for a twice widowed cancer survivor and who is an octogenarian already.
Dr Pafko is a renowned medical doctor and researcher – a Nobel Prize winner, actually. He owns his own research company and has always been a bit of a show-off who likes beautiful women, drives nice cars and wants all credit for his accomplishments.
The story moves along at the pace of an old geezer with the courtroom being 90% of the setting. All that said, it’s not tedious because the focus is on the characters who come in all varieties.
One aspect of the main plot involves the deaths of a number of patients during the trials of a new cancer medication. The good Doctor Pafko is not only involved in that awful thing in his own way, the charges are that he manipulated the data as well as doing some insider trading. He made quite a lot of money and now he’s looking at a lot of time in jail – easily the rest of his life.
As usual with Turow, (and I do have to read more of him) legal issues, like life, are rarely cut and dried. They’re as messy as the people and families involved. This one is one of his best, I think.