Testimony

Testimony

by Scott Turow

Overview: At the age of fifty, former prosecutor Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his law career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped by the International Criminal Court—an organization charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity—he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career. Over ten years ago, in the apocalyptic chaos following the Bosnian war, an entire Roma refugee camp vanished. Now for the first time, a witness has stepped forward: Ferko Rincic claims that armed men marched the camp's Gypsy residents to a cave in the middle of the night—and then with a hand grenade set off an avalanche, burying 400 people alive. Only Ferko survived.

Boom's task is to examine Ferko's claims and determinine who might have massacred the Roma. His investigation takes him from the International Criminal Court's base in Holland to the cities and villages of Bosnia and secret meetings in Washington, DC, as Boom sorts through a host of suspects, ranging from Serb paramilitaries, to organized crime gangs, to the US government itself, while also maneuvering among the alliances and treacheries of those connected to the case: Layton Merriwell, a disgraced US major general desperate to salvage his reputation; Sergeant Major Atilla Doby,a vital cog in American military operations near the camp at the time of the Roma's disappearance; Laza Kajevic, the brutal former leader of the Bosnian Serbs; Esma Czarni, Ferko's alluring barrister; and of course, Ferko himself, on whose testimony the entire case rests-and who may know more than he's telling.

Deanna Boe (01/15/18): Scott Turow is a well known author who usually writes intriguing novels about lawyers and crimes that take place here in the U.S. Perhaps he is best remembered for the novel PRESUMED INNOCENT. This novel, TESTIMONY, is slightly different from his typical style. He has taken the lawyer, Bill ten Boom, out of his usual setting, namely the courtroom in the United States. It seems Boom is having a “mid-life” crises at the age of 55. He has divorced his wife, left his law firm, and taken a job with the International Criminal Court located in the Netherlands. This is an organization that is charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity. It doesn’t take Boom long to realize he has undertaken far more than he had realized the job would entail.

I don’t know how many of you remember much about the Balkan War but I know I didn’t when I started to read this book. Not only the lack of knowledge about the war but also my not knowing much about that area of Europe made the novel confusing at times. All of this wasn’t helped any by the extremely unusual characters that Turow created, but no matter, it was an interesting, and atypical novel that Turow has written for our enjoyment.

For those of you who don’t remember the Balkan War it consisted of Eastern Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, Muslim Bosniaks, neutral NATO forces, and Roma (better known as Gypsies) who were all caught up in all of this. The death toll is shocking, especially since so little is known or remembered. Turow scrutinized all of these aspects plus the American military and international jurists. He shows us how the intrinsic worth of mankind in our daily lives can go on and influence the rest of the world just as it is happening today.

When you think of a mid-life crises what areas do you feel are affected? It usually starts with the question – is this all? Is this it? Boom not only found life outside of his comfortable lifestyle in the United States different but he also found some titillating romance to go along with his feeling old at 55. It has been awhile since I have read any of Turow’s other novels, so I don’t remember if he had such “hot” sex scenes previously nor such bizarre characters which he created in this book but he definitely has them in TESTIMONY. No matter, if you liked Turow’s writing previously, you should continue to enjoy this one.
Rating: ****

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