Scott Turow’s The Last Trial is billed as the final courtroom battle of 85-year-old defense lawyer Alejandro (Sandy) Stern. As a fan of Turow’s novels and Stern, who has appeared in all of them, I was conflicted as I began the book. While I recognize characters, like real people, must retire and even die, I kept thinking of how Sandy would go out and what would be next for the franchise.
The Disappointing Beginning
The Last Trial begins with Sandy collapsing on the defense table during the trial. Unlike some reviewers, I didn’t like this touch. It was obvious Sandy wasn’t going to die. The illness would have been far better had it simply happened during the regular flow of the story. The foreshadowing was disappointing because I instantly understood a lot of how the book would end.
Setting aside the unsatisfying ending, The Last Trial was an enjoyable read. As always, Turow had the trial revolve around an interesting and timely topic, a new supposed wonder drug that kills some of those taking it.
Sandy and his his daughter Marta are representing Kiril Pafko on a series of charges related to the a cancer medication Pafko had prescribed Sandy years earlier. While the drug helped many, including Sandy, it also hastened the death of some. when the deaths started showing up in the data, someone hid the truth from the FDA and several people sold their stock in the company that developed the drug.
As in many stories, the keys to the story are betrayal, deceit, and the human failings that lead to betrayal and deceit.
If you like courtroom dramas, you will appreciate The Last Trial.
Turow seems to have decided Sandy’s granddaughter Pinky will lead the franchise. While I think Pinky is a mildly interesting character, I’m not sure this is a good idea.
Pinky seems too contrived. Thinking about her, I was struck by the idea that she is the kind of stereotypical young person an old man would create today. While I will give this a shot when the next book is published, I suspect Pinky is way too different from Turow for him to effectively write her as his main character.