Scott Turow didn’t begin his career as an author. Instead, he spent many years training as a lawyer and working as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
It was only later that he returned to his first love — literature — and began his incredibly successful Kindle County series.
It’s this series that made Turow’s name, exploring crime and punishment in the fictional Kindle County.
Turow turned to his extensive legal experience to craft the complex plots and intriguing characters that have made the books so popular.
The careful balance of legal intrigue and thriller action has made the Kindle County series perfect for the screen, and many of the books have been adapted for film or television.
If you’re excited to get started in the world of Kindle County, check out this guide to how to read Scott Turow’s books in order.
About Scott Turow
Born in Chicago in 1949, Scott Turow loved reading from a young age.
So much so that he enrolled in Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program in 1970, with an Edith Mirrieless Fellowship.
In 1975, Turow switched from literature to law, enrolling in Harvard Law School. He graduated in 1978 and became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago.
During his time in school, Turow didn’t let his passion for literature fade. Instead, he wrote the non-fiction book One L, detailing his journey through the institution.
As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Turow worked as the prosecution in numerous high-profile cases.
Undoubtedly, his experience with real-world crimes helped Turow create the twisting narratives of his thrillers.
Most of Scott Turow’s writing takes place in the legal community of the fictional Kindle County.
Starting with Presumed Innocent, the books detail crimes that are never quite as they seem.
Turow’s work goes beyond simple thrillers. The Kindle County series also deals with the complex morality of crime, and the murky depths of human nature.
Scott Turow Kindle County Books In Order
The best way to read the Kindle County series is in order, but many of the books can be enjoyed as standalone novels.
Presumed Innocent (1987)
Presumed Innocent is the first book set in the fictional Kindle County, and it immediately launched Scott Turow as a crime writer to keep an eye on.
Rozat “Rusty” Sabich is a Kindle County prosecutor, tasked with identifying the killer of fellow prosecutor Carolyn Polhemus.
But Rusty is hiding his own connection to the case — he had a brief affair with Carolyn months previously.
In trying to find the killer while keeping his own misdeeds away from the case, Rusty finds himself on trial for the murder of Carolyn.
He has to fight to prove his innocence, as well as save his marriage, his job, and his life.
Presumed Innocent explores the depths of the human heart, in parallel with the secrets and lies lurking within the Kindle County legal system.
- As an introduction to Kindle County, Presumed Innocent places the reader right in the middle of a compelling legal system.
- Following Rusty’s perspective, the reader gets caught up in the fear of the trial.
- The main plot gets lost at times in wordy introspection.
The Burden Of Proof (1990)
The second novel in the Kindle County series, Burden of Proof is a semi-sequel to Presumed Innocent.
Alejandro “Sandy” Stern is a successful defense lawyer with a skill at clever legal representation.
But his life is shattered when he returns home from a business trip to find his wife has committed suicide.
With the grief still fresh, Sandy is thrown right back into work.
Tasked with defending Dixon Hartnell, an untrustworthy commodities broker, Sandy struggles to separate the personal from the professional.
Meanwhile, he’s forced to confront the issues in his own life. What drove his wife to suicide? And why did she withdraw money from a trust fund before death?
- The complex characters add depth to the story, offering a relatable link to a plot that deals with law and finance.
- The returning characters from Presumed Innocent make it a worthy sequel that doesn’t require reading the first book.
- The Burden of Proof is a long book, lacking the high-stakes drama you might expect from a courthouse.
Pleading Guilty (1993)
Mack Malloy is a former police officer turned attorney who is counting down the days to retirement. He drinks too much, he swears too much, and he doesn’t work enough.
Bert Kamin is a star attorney at the same firm as Malloy. Until he goes missing, and 5 million dollars goes missing with him.
Now, he’s on the hook for embezzlement and Malloy finds his firm’s reputation is circling the drain.
To get the money — and the reputation — back Malloy has to track down Bert Kamin.
And he needs to work quickly and quietly to stop the firm from going under, even if it means entering the world of crime and corruption.
- The novel keeps you on your toes, with twists and turns coming out of nowhere.
- Turow’s experience in the legal world shines through, as the plot ruminates on the position of rich law firms.
- Moving further from the courthouse, Pleading Guilty is a diversion from the usual books of Kindle County.
The Laws Of Our Fathers (1996)
Drive-by shootings aren’t unusual in the ghetto of Kindle County, but this one has caught the attention of everyone in the area.
Why? The victim is June Eddgar, the ex-wife of a Kindle County politician.
Judge Sonia Klonsky is called to preside over the case.
June was an old friend and Klonsky is determined to see justice done, even if it means sentencing Nils Eddgar for arranging the murder of his mother.
Sprawling and detailed, the novel is an ambitious look at how the past continues to influence the present.
- Turow’s attention to detail is given time to shine in the length and breadth of the novel.
- The dual perspective tells a moving story of continued injustice.
- The novel is long, and the slow pace means it’s tough going at times.
Personal Injuries (1999)
Corruption is running rampant in the legal community of Kindle County and personal injury lawyer Robbie Feaver revels in it.
His career and love life are looking better than ever, even if he offers the occasional bribe to ensure he stays on top.
But when Feaver’s secret bank account is discovered, he finds himself in a sticky situation.
Forced between time in prison or wearing a wire, he elects to spy on Brendan Tuohey, the Presiding Judge of Common Law Claims, and the person suspected to be at the heart of Kindle County corruption.
Paired up with FBI operative Evon Miller, Feaver must betray those around him, while trying to keep his own feet away from the fire.
- The ins and outs of the legal system make for compelling plot turns.
- A well-drawn cast of characters helps the reader get lost in the novel.
- The legal jargon can become overwhelming. This is a law thriller for lawyers.
Reversible Errors (2002)
Attorney Arthur Raven has been tasked with the final appeal of Rommy Gandolph. Gandolph is currently on death row, convicted of a triple murder in 1991.
He’s desperate to prove his innocence, even if his lawyer seems uninterested in the case.
But when Raven looks into the case, he begins to doubt his presumptions.
There are multiple errors in the proceedings and rumor has it that another inmate has evidence that will prove crucial in exonerating Gandolph.
Can Raven save the life of an innocent man?
- An intense look at the morality of death row, forcing you to examine your own beliefs.
- The convincing characters help bring to life the overlap between personal life and professional life.
- The ending is a bit of a letdown after an intriguing plot.
Life is going well for George Mason, a judge for the Court of Appeals. Until a rape trial that he presides over shakes him to the core.
He no longer feels competent as a judge and long-buried guilt causes him to question the role of the legal system.
Not to mention, his wife has been diagnosed with cancer, and he’s started to receive threatening emails.
With Limitations, Turow forces the reader to consider how the law can fail the people it should be protecting.
- One of Turow’s shortest books, it’s a quick read that introduces you to the style and settings of Kindle County.
- A chance to catch up with some of the early characters from Kindle County.
- As a shorter novel, the central legal proceedings feel rushed.
Unusually for the Kindle County series, Innocent is a direct sequel to an earlier novel.
The reader joins Rozat “Rusty” Sabich and Tommy “Tommo” Molto, as Rusty finds himself once again on trial for murder.
Set twenty years after Presumed Innocent, Rusty has left his role as a prosecutor and is now Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.
But the mysterious death of his wife sees Rusty accused of her murder.
With old grudges coming to the fore, the courtroom looks set for a battle like no other.
- It’s fascinating to see old characters and old grudges return.
- The bubbling resentments add suspense to an already tense narrative.
- Some developments since we last saw the characters are a little implausible.
The 1982 murder of Dita Kronon caused the paths of the Gianis brothers to diverge.
Accused of murdering Dita, his girlfriend, Cass Gianis finds himself jailed for 25 years.
Meanwhile, Paul Gianis, his identical twin brother, starts on his journey to becoming a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office.
25 years later, Cass Gianis is released from jail, while Paul Gianis is beginning his bid for mayor.
But Paul finds his plans derailed when he is accused of participating in the murder of Dita Kronon.
Caught up in the disruptive relationship between the families, Identical shines a light on how new technologies can illuminate old cases.
- Turow excels at writing characters with complex morals and motivations.
- It’s interesting to see how the introduction of new technologies has changed the face of the legal system.
- It takes some time for the plot to get going.
Testimony moves beyond the setting of Kindle County, even though it is part of the series.
Instead, it follows the ex-Kindle County attorney Bill ten Boom as he wrestles with a complex case.
Fermi Rincic is the sole survivor of a suspected massacre.
Overnight a village of over 400 Roma refugees has been cleared. Rincic claims they were driven into an abandoned mineshaft which was then brought to collapse.
Due to suspected involvement from American troops, ten Boom has been brought in to lead the investigation. To find the truth, he must navigate a tense political situation.
- There are a lot of political and moral forces at play, and Turow weaves them skilfully.
- A slow introduction of information keeps the reader intrigued.
- Bill ten Boom isn’t the most compelling lead character that Turow has written, and his story is less interesting than the main plot.
The Last Trial (2020)
The Last Trial sees the return of Kindle County regular Sandy Stern, as he prepares to take on his final trial.
With retirement around the corner, Sandy Stern is tempted to return to the courtroom by his old friend, Dr. Kiril Pafko.
Pafko is a Nobel Prize winner and cancer researcher — and now he’s on trial for murder and fraud.
Stern is determined to defend his friend, but the evidence, and the judicial process, put his beliefs to the test. What will the courtroom reveal about Stern’s long-held beliefs?
- It’s exciting to see the return of Sandy Stern and to track his progress from the man we met so many novels ago.
- The perspective of an aging attorney adds depth to a standard legal proceeding.
- Featuring recognizable characters and a familiar setting, The Last Trial feels predictable in places.
Lucia Gomez has been rising through the ranks in the Kindle County police department.
It’s been hard to walk the line of success without stepping on any toes, but she’s proud of her work.
Until it all comes tumbling down. Gomez finds herself accused of sleeping with higher-ups for promotions and now her entire livelihood is under threat.
Gomez attempts to clear her name with the help of attorney Rik Dudek and P.I. Clarice Granum.
Dudek is an old friend and he’s determined to do his best for Gomez. But might the investigation uncover some things better left unknown?
- Turow might have started writing in the 1980s, but books like Scandal help keep Kindle County modern.
- False assumptions and internal biases consistently play with your expectations, as the story keeps you guessing.
- The first part of the book is slow.
Scott Turow Standalone Novel Reading Order
Only tangentially related to Kindle County, these Scott Turow books stand on their own.
Ordinary Heroes (2005)
Ordinary Heroes isn’t your standard Scott Turow novel.
Set outside of the legal system, Ordinary Heroes follows journalist Stewart Dubinsky as he uncovers the life of his recently deceased father.
Dubinsky is fascinated by the discovery that his father played a key role in the European Theatre during World War II.
As he goes through the mementos and memories of his father, he learns more and more about his history — including revelations about who his mother is.
- Turow turns his skill at character writing to a new setting.
- It’s interesting to see Turow branch out and his talent for detail allows the story to evolve.
- It’s hard not to miss the legal setting that helps spark a Turow novel.
Scott Turow Non-Fiction Reading Order
As well as fiction, Scott Turow has experimented with non-fiction. Not a must-read for Kindle County fans, these books are interesting additions.
One L (1977)
No one has ever said that Harvard Law School is easygoing, but you might be surprised at just how terrifying, overwhelming, and elating a year at the prestigious school can be.
Turow wrote One L based on his own experiences attending the first year of Harvard Law School (he eventually graduated cum laude).
A non-fiction book about the realities of studying for a law degree, One L has the same thrilling tone you expect to find from a Turow book.
One L might be the first book written by Turow, but I don’t recommend putting it at the start of your reading list.
- Turow effectively captures the intensity of attending Harvard Law School.
- Although he was yet to become the thriller writer we know him as, One L features the same stylistic beats.
- The legal language can make the story confusing.
Turow’s experience in the legal profession led him to the creation of Ultimate Punishment, a non-fiction book exploring the pros and cons of the death penalty.
At times arguing for the existence of the death penalty, the overall tone positions capital punishment as a risk too high to take.
Ultimate Punishment isn’t an easy read, and fans of Turow’s Kindle County work might be surprised by the tone of this book.
Deeply introspective, it’s an intriguing read for anyone curious as to how those in the legal system view the death penalty.
- Gaining insight from a lawyer with experience in capital punishment trials is invaluable.
- Turow offers both sides of the argument, allowing the reader to make their own choice.
- Unsurprisingly for such a serious subject, the book is a tough read.
Fans of Scott Turow should be prepared for a total change in direction with Hard Listening, which is why we recommend leaving this book until the end of your Scott Turow reading list.
It’s also not just a Scott Turow book: authors Sam Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Greg Iles, James McBride, Matt Groening, Mitch Albom, and Ridley Pearson all contributed.
Instead of crime and punishment, Hard Listening is the story of the band Rock Bottom Remainders.
Formed in 1992, the charity band consisted of a bunch of authors (the ones that wrote the book).
- A truly unexpected story, and an unusual look at the life of a rock band.
- As the band is made up of some of America’s best-loved writers, Hard Listening features some incredible storytelling.
- If you came to Scott Turow for hard-hitting legal procedures, then the change in tone of Hard Listening might not appeal.
Scott Turow has used his extensive experience in the legal profession to flesh out complex plots set in the fictional setting of Kindle County.
With his first Kindle County book written in the 1980s, Turow has kept the world up to date with an expanding cast of characters and the introduction of modern policing methods.
If you’re interested in discovering the works of Scott Turow, the Kindle County series is the best place to start.
Although a series, the majority of novels are only loosely connected by setting and theme.
With that said, I recommend reading the Kindle County novels in order.
Watching the world expand with each novel helps build a rich portrait of the legal system the characters inhabit.
Once you’ve read the Kindle County series, try Ordinary Heroes. It functions as a standalone novel, although a few background Kindle County characters make an appearance.
Turow’s non-fiction books are also worth a read, even if they take a different tone from his fiction.
I hope this guide has prepared you for entering the murky underbelly of the legal profession with Scott Turow’s novels.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Need To Read Scott Turow’s Novels In Order?
Scott Turow’s Kindle County books are loosely connected, but they don’t need to be read in order.
Follow them chronologically to build a rounded view of the world.
Are Scott Turow Books Good?
For fans of legal intrigue, Scott Turow’s books are worth the read. His legal experience adds complexity and realism to his Kindle County books.
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