Top positive review
Symphonic set-up and development, but weak finish
Reviewed in the United States on July 28, 2015
The word going through my mind as I was reading this book was "symphonic"--Turow sets up an ensemble of characters whose relationships to each other are intricate, interesting, and very human. That is one of his great strengths as an author.
Unfortunately, the storyline was much less sharp in the final sections--after the great set-up, with very good development and exposition of the characters and the plot, Turow doesn't wrap things up very well. One relationship is supposed to be sort of unclear at the end of the book, but there are ways to be clear and effective in narrating unclear relationships, and Turow doesn't use them. Even the more resolved relationship could have been worked through more carefully and clearly--it provides a nice finish, but it isn't nearly as dramatic or nuanced as it could have been.
Interestingly, one character who really seems to get lost here is that of Rommy Gandolph, the inmate on death row whom Arthur Raven is trying to prove innocent. The book isn't really about Rommy, as it turns out--he's more of a plot device than a sustained character. By coincidence, I had just finished reading John Grisham's book "The Chamber," which also features a death-row inmate and a lawyer trying to help him avoid the gas chamber. While Grisham's book isn't perfect (Turow is a much better writer), "The Chamber" meditates thoughtfully on what the death penalty does, what it means, whom it affects and how, and so on. Grisham tells the story in a way that leaves several conclusions open--not plot-wise, but in terms of the moral issues it raises. Here, in "Reversible Errors," the death-row case is more or less a side-show, and while Turow does contemplate questions of culpability, morality, and forgiveness, those questions actually don't really involve Rommy Gandolph at all. In that regard, the contrast with Grisham's book didn't help my estimate of Turow's novel.
The first 4/5 of the book are great--again, "Reversible Errors" is symphonic in how well Turow brings everything together and develops the various relationships and events. But the conclusion doesn't do justice to all of the excellent qualities of the novel.