In translation from the Hungarian, this is an artful little story that concerns a 29-year-old judge, L.S., who is forced to hand down a sentence on a woman with whom he has fallen deeply in love. In an earlier case, L.S. is indignant when a colleague takes the teeth out of the law by suspending sentence on another woman. Soon, however, the tables turn and L.S. sees that he will have to judge a strikingly beautiful girl, Judith, who shares his club and whom he knows is guilty. He sends her to jail- for six months- and never sees her again. As an aftermath, L.S. slyly provokes his superiors so that they punish him by exiling him to a little town of no importance. While for most of the book L.S. is seen as an overly self-conscious small official, it is in the last ironic footnote that he is revealed as a Lothario who left a trail of broken hearts- among them Judith's.... A well-told story, within its small and perhaps limited scope.