Scott Turow takes a bold step with his latest novel, Testimony, by moving the typical legal suspense his fans have become accustomed to out of the courtroom, as well as out of the country altogether. As the book opens, attorney Bill ten Boom’s midlife crisis is already fully underway: he’s left his job, his marriage and his home. He wants nothing more than to take a year off to “follow the sun around the world,” and “spend the evening reading everything I’ve always meant to.”
But despite his disillusionment with his former life, letting go of his quest for justice isn’t so easy. He is quickly talked into a new job as a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court in The Hague, a war crimes tribunal. His first case involves the disappearance of some 400 refugees during the Bosnian war, who are presumed to have been buried alive. The only surviving witness, Ferko Rincic, claims an armed force was behind the atrocity, and it’s up to ten Boom to bring the culprits to justice. In a classic fish-out-of-water scenario, ten Boom must negotiate the political and judicial legalities in a global arena while also contending with a lack of cooperation from all fronts. His investigation takes him from the streets of Bosnia to the secret halls of the U.S. government itself. No one is forthcoming, the lies are palpable, and his own safety is ultimately placed into jeopardy.
While it’s not necessary to have read any of Turow’s previous novels, Testimony is a natural progression in Bill ten Boom’s story and one that adds a deep complexity to his character. Rather than present just another case in the same old setting, Turow reinvents his protagonist by taking him out of his element. At the same time, Turow reinvents himself and reasserts his own mastery of the genre.