“The truth was often so damn painful. People couldn’t stand to live with it. And him thinking he was in the truth business. No one really was. You took as much as you could and called it quits.”
Twenty-five years ago, Dita Kronon was murdered in her second-floor bedroom at the family’s mansion. Her boyfriend, Cass Giannis, takes the fall for it. Two-and-a-half decades later, as his release date nears, the dead girl’s brother, Hal, is growing increasingly agitated. He grew up with Cass and his identical twin brother, Paul, and if he were to be perfectly honest, he never much liked them. He’s not really sure why, but that’s the way it is. Now, as the parole board is getting ready to set Cass free, Hal starts sprouting theories about Paul being involved too. So far, there is no evidence to back him up, but that doesn’t stop Hal. He’s especially keen to make the accusation stick, because Senator Paul Giannis is campaigning to become mayor of Kindle County. Hal simply cannot tolerate that. And he has billions of dollars to pit against the senator.
"You may think you have it figured out somewhere along the way. Maybe you do, but the number of twists from there to the end will keep you second-guessing yourself, or maybe even third-guessing."
Evon Miller, former FBI agent and current employee of Hal, teams up with ex-cop Tim Brodie to uncover the truth about that night, those crucial hours after Dita’s father sent his guests home from a party on the grounds of their impressive estate. When Dita’s body was discovered, everyone began asking: Where did the twins go from there? Paul always claimed that he and his brother just escaped for a few beers. But Cass’s fingerprints were all over Dita’s room, and his footprints seemed to be sunk deep into the mud below her balcony. He probably could have explained all of that away, but suddenly, and for no apparent reason, he struck a plea bargain.
Now, in 2008, Cass has paid his debt to society and is ready to restart his life. Unfortunately, the press, driven by Hal’s rabid and frequent statements attempting to implicate Paul in his sister’s murder, have a stranglehold on the story. The reporters smell a bloody battle coming up. Paul has been putting in untold hours on his campaign and has worked impossibly hard, but he begins to doubt it is all worth it. Identical twins often feel each other’s pain, complete each other’s thoughts, and have a bond that singles have a lot of trouble comprehending. So understandably, Paul just wants Cass to be left in peace. Besides, Hal may have damaged them both more than the public can bear. Even if he backs off, it may be too late.
But once Tim has set things in motion, he may be unable to stop their momentum. While he begins to mellow out in his pursuit of the truth, several unanswered questions from 1982 continue to nag at him. He worked the case back when he was still with the police department, and is plagued by the thought that he might have had a hand in convicting the wrong man, or missed a critical element of the crime that allowed a killer to go free. Whatever the cost, those questions cannot be left unresolved. Brodie and Evon will see to that. As they dig deeper, they sense that no one is telling them the whole story. Has everyone been lying from the start?
You may think you have it figured out somewhere along the way. Maybe you do, but the number of twists from there to the end will keep you second-guessing yourself, or maybe even third-guessing. Scott Turow has not only a superb legal thriller in IDENTICAL, but a sort of behind-the-scenes peek into the mysterious distinctions that set identical twins apart. This is truly a fascinating read and a killer-good story.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on October 17, 2013