Mar 12, 2021BARosen1112 rated this title 5 out of 5 stars
Scott Turow, in my mind, invented the legal thriller some 34 years ago with Presumed Innocent, in which career prosecutor Rusty Sabich was tried for the murder of another prosecutor with whom Rusty had an affair. He was defended in that trial by Alejandro ("Sandy") Stern. Stern, as elegant a lawyer as ever entered a fictional courtroom but now 85 years old and slowing down considerably, returns in The Last Trial to represent fellow Argentine immigrant Kiril Pafko, a research physician who won a Nobel Prize 33 years ago and whose latest breakthrough is a "miracle cure" for treatment of some lung cancers. The criminal charges against Dr. Pafko include murder, insider trading and fraud, all of which stem from his and his company's failure to disclose some seriously adverse outcomes during the clinical trial leading to approval of the new drug. Dr. Pafko claims, against mounds of evidence against him, that he was unaware of the adverse outcomes. This is to be the final case for both Sandy and his law partner, his daughter Marta, who also wishes to retire. As usual with Turow, we get careful plotting, convincing courtroom scenes, and fully developed characters, especially the defendant, his family and co-workers, and Sandy's quirky granddaughter, who after a troubled youth shows promise as a nascent investigator. The novel has an elegiacal quality, perhaps unsurprising given Turow's long association with Sandy Stern - an author's note says Stern has appeared in every one of Turow's novels. If this is indeed Sandy Stern's last appearance, it's a memorable one - a great story, brilliantly told.