In his popular series, the Kindle County Legal Thriller books, Turow examines both the American legal system and human morality. The majority of the Scott Turow books in order examine the implications of the judicial system in addition to the crime itself and its effects on those involved with the case.
Turow is able to do this so effectively because of the time he spent in the courtroom as an attorney and as a federal prosecutor. He brings a realism to his fiction that shines through, and it is one of the reasons he continues to write bestselling novels nearly 40 years after his fiction debut.
About Scott Turow
Scott Turow grew up in Chicago, later serving as a federal prosecutor there, and he says the city has always been his literary homeland. He initially pursued a career in English literature before pivoting to law school, but his career has brought him full circle.
Turow first attended Amherst College where he graduated with an English degree before attending Stanford University for his master’s in creative writing. After this, Turow attended Harvard Law School for his law degree.
Before that he says he was working as an English professor at Stanford University with three unpublished novels. He pitched the idea to a literary agent to write a memoir about his time at law school, which resulted in his debut publication in 1977.
His breakthrough publication came nearly a decade later in 1986 with Presumed Innocent. This was the first book in the Kindle County Legal Thriller series, which Turow is still writing.
There have been numerous adaptations of his works, all of which stem from the Kindle County series. The first was the film Presumed Innocent in 1990 starring Harrison Ford, Raul Julia, and Greta Scacchi. Next came The Burden of Proof in 1992, which was a TV mini-series with two Emmy nominations starring Héctor Elizondo and Brian Dennehy.
The next three adaptations were all TV movies. Reversible Errors in 2004 starring William H. Macy, Tom Selleck, Felicity Huffman, and Shemar Moore. Pleading Guilty in 2010 starring Isabelle Fuhrman and Jason Issacs. Then Innocent in 2011 starring Bill Pullman, Marcia Gay Harden, and Alfred Molina.
Presumed Innocent is being adapted for the second time into an Apple TV series with an upcoming release date. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Rusty Sabich.
Turow was awarded the Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame in October 2023.
Are Scott Turow books a series?
While the majority of Scott Turow’s books belong to one series, not all of his books are part of it. The Kindle County Legal Thriller series is just that, a legal thriller series, while his one standalone book has split timelines and is a historical mystery.
You can find out more about his standalone book, Ordinary Heroes, below, but a quick overview is that it is a multigenerational tale. The main crux of the story is a son learning more about his father’s wartime experience, when his father never spoke about his service during the Second World War.
In contrast, the Kindle County books are courtroom dramas that bring tension and fraught emotion to life. Turow heavily draws on his lived experience as a practicing defense lawyer in these books.
Scott Turow Books in Order
Kindle County Legal Thriller Books
Our list of the Scott Turow books begins with his popular series the Kindle County Legal Thrillers. Each book in the series does contain a standalone crime and investigation, so technically these books can be read in any order.
However, it is best to read these books in order of publication. That is because like any long-standing series that takes place in the same town or county, there are recurring and interconnected characters. Characters from earlier books will reappear later in the series, oftentimes in new roles, and those reappearances will contain spoilers for the previous books.
So, for the best reading experience, you should read these Scott Turow books in order of publication, which matches the chronological order.
- Presumed Innocent (1986)
- The Burden of Proof (1990)
- Pleading Guilty (1993)
- The Laws of Our Fathers (1996)
- Personal Injuries (1999)
- Reversible Errors (2002)
- Limitations (2006)
- Innocent (2010)
- Identical (2013)
- Testimony (2017)
- The Last Trial (2020)
- Suspect (2022)
Scott Turow has only written one standalone book, which is a mystery thriller with two timelines. Stewart Dubinsky knew his father served in the Second World War, but David never spoke about his wartime experiences. After his death, Stewart uncovers startling letters and begins reconstructing his father’s war efforts through military archives, old letters, and his father’s notes.
- Ordinary Heroes (2005)
This next list of Scott Turow books in order begins with Turow’s debut publication: One L. Again, his first book is a memoir of his first year at law school. The second book is an examination of the death penalty based on his experience with the legal system.
Finally, Scott Turow has contributed to several anthologies throughout his career. Most of the titles below are anthologies that Turow contributed to with his writing. However, the titles with an asterisk below are the anthologies that Turow was the editor for.
- The Crown Crime Companion (1995)
- Guilty as Charged (1996) *
- Great Writers and Kids Write Mystery Stories (1996) (Out of Print)
- Writers on Writing (2001)
- Their World is Law (2002)
- The Best American Mystery Stories 2006 (2006) *
- Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All (2013)
- Suspense Magazine December 2013 (2013)
- By the Book (2014)
- California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology (2020)
- Fight of the Century (2020)
- Low Down Dirty Vote: Volume II: Every Stolen Vote is a Crime (2020)
- Fourteen Days: An Unauthorized Gathering (2024)
A Summary of Scott Turow Books in Order
Since the Kindle County Legal Thriller books are by far Scott Turow’s most well-known and popular, as well as the majority of his bibliography, we’ve included summaries for the first ten books in that series below. As previously mentioned, each book contains its own standalone crime and legal investigation. However, the series does feature recurring characters, so their reappearance in the later summaries will be a minor spoiler for the earlier books.
1. Presumed Innocent
Rusty Sabich is seemingly a family man and the second-best prosecutor in Kindle County. His former lover has been brutally murdered and he is handed the explosive case initially, before he becomes the prime suspect. It plunges him into a nightmare where nothing seems real and no one can be presumed innocent.
2. The Burden of Proof
Alejandro “Sandy” Stern was the defense attorney in Presumed Innocent. In Turow’s second Kindle County novel he is the main character whose life forever changes one spring afternoon. He returns home from a business trip to find his wife has committed suicide and he races to uncover the truth about her last days.
3. Pleading Guilty
Mack Malloy was a cop before he became a partner with one of Kindle County’s top law firms. But his career has become a downward spiral. Meanwhile, Bert Kamin is the firm’s top litigator.
Except he goes missing, as does $5.6 million dollars from a class-action lawsuit. Despite his personal and professional struggles, Mack must find both Bert and the money as soon as possible.
4. The Laws of Our Fathers
A woman has been murdered in an apparent random drive-by shooting, but then she is identified as the ex-wife of a prominent state senator. When the case lands on Judge Sonia Klonsky’s desk, she also recognizes the woman as an old acquaintance.
The pursuit of justice takes several bizarre and unusual turns as Judge Klonsky faces off against formidable enemies bent on her destruction.
5. Personal Injuries
Robbie Feaver is a personal injury lawyer with a high-profile practice and a beautiful wife. He is also dying of an irreversible illness and has a secret bank account. He uses the account to bribe the judges deciding his cases.
When Robbie is caught by the Feds, he agrees to a deal for leniency and ends up wearing a wire as he continues to try and bribe judges. Evon Miller is the alias of the FBI agent assigned to supervise him. She is lonely, impervious to Robbie’s charms, and harboring secrets of her own.
6. Reversible Errors
Rommy “Squirrel” Gandolph is on death row for a 1991 triple murder in Kindle County. His slow progress toward execution is nearing its end when Arthur Raven, a corporate lawyer and Rommy’s reluctant court-appointed representative, receives word that there may be new evidence to exonerate Gandolph.
Opposing Arthur is Muriel Wynn, Kindle County’s chief deputy prosecuting attorney who has her sights set on her boss’s job. Muriel and Larry Starczek, the original detective on the case, don’t want to see Rommy escape a fate they believe he deserves. Complicating the situation even more is that the judge who originally found Rommy guilty, Gillian Sullivan, is only recently out of prison herself after being convicted of taking bribes.
Life seems to have gone well for George Mason. After years as a criminal defense lawyer, he is now a judge on the Court of Appeals in Kindle County and has been for nearly a decade. But when a disturbing rape case is brought before him, Mason begins to question his role within the legal system and the law itself.
It’s been twenty years since Rusty Sabich and Tommy Molto went head-to-head in the murder trial at the heart of Presumed Innocent, Turow’s debut novel. They are once more facing off in a riveting psychological match.
Sabich is now 60 years old and the chief judge of an appellate court. When he finds his wife dead under mysterious circumstances, Molto accuses him of murder…again.
State Senator Paul Giannis is a candidate for Mayor of Kindle County, while his identical twin brother Cass Giannis has just been released from prison having served 25 years after pleading guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, Aphrodite Kronon.
Evon Miller, a former FBI agent who is the head of security for the Kronon family business, begins re-investigating Aphrodite’s death along with private investigator Tim Brodie. Brodie was the original detective on the case. What they uncover is a complex web of murder, sex, and betrayal.
Ben ten Boom has left behind everything he thought was important to him: His law career, his wife, Kindle County, and his country. But when the International Criminal Court reaches out to him, he feels enticed by what will become the most elusive case of his career.
More than ten years ago, a Roma refugee camp disappeared in the chaos following the Bosnian War. For the first time a witness has come forward, Ferko Rincic, claiming that armed men marched them into a cave, set off an avalanche, and only Ferko survived being buried alive.
Boom must investigate Ferko’s claims and figure out who might have massacred the Roma. He travels the world in pursuit of truth and justice. He must also maneuver through the alliances and treacheries of those connected to the case.
The Scott Turow books in order are captivating and compelling legal thrillers that analyze both the American legal system and human nature.
His most well-known books by far are the Kindle County thrillers which feature interconnected and recurring characters. This makes his portrayal of human nature even more captivating because readers can witness how characters evolve over years or decades following their experiences in previous novels.