Picks and Pans Review: Ordinary Heroes

updated 11/28/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Scott Turow

[STARS 3]

Ordinary Heroes, Scott Turow's seventh novel, abandons the legal world he has mined since 1987's smart, genre-defining Presumed Innocent in favor of World War II-era Europe and a tale of espionage and self-discovery. When present-day journalist Stewart Dubinsky learns that his deceased father was court-martialed in 1945 for releasing an accused spy from military custody, he pursues the long-hidden story in an effort to understand his dad.

What follows is an often engrossing account of the older man's mission to apprehend an insubordinate O.S.S. officer; it includes a love story and meditations on war and race. Several Heart of Darkness motifs are woven through too-familiar set pieces—a midnight parachute drop, the Battle of the Bulge, a liberated concentration camp—but the parallel Turow sets up between the father and son builds to a graceful, poignant ending.

NOVEL

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