In Scott Turow’s disappointing new novella, most of which was serialized earlier this year in The New York Times Magazine, an appellate judge grapples with a trifecta of stress: He’s weighing a tricky legal case that stirs memories of a youthful indiscretion, his wife has been hospitalized for thyroid cancer, and he’s begun to receive anonymous e-mails threatening his life. That’s a novel’s worth of plot, with a novel’s worth of characters to populate the various story threads. But the central whodunit is rather a dud, and Turow isn’t able to flesh out the material or give it breathing room: The herrings only blush, but never redden.

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