Title: The Confession
Author: John Grisham
Publication Date: October, 2010
Hardcover: 432 pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Description: John Grisham delivers his most extraordinary legal thriller yet. Filled with the intriguing twists and turns that have become Grisham’s trademark, this newest novel will prove once again that no one keeps readers in suspense like America’s favorite storyteller. An innocent man is days from execution. Only a guilty man can save him.
For every innocent man sent to prison, there is a guilty one left on the outside. He doesn’t understand how the police and prosecutors got the wrong man, and he certainly doesn’t care. He just can’t believe his good luck. Time passes and he realizes that the mistake will not be corrected: the authorities believe in their case and are determined to get a conviction. He may even watch the trial of the person wrongly accused of his crime. He is relieved when the verdict is guilty. He laughs when the police and prosecutors congratulate themselves. He is content to allow an innocent person to go to prison, to serve hard time, even to be executed.
Travis Boyette is such a man. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, he abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.
Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess.
But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?
My Thoughts: With 24 published books under his belt, John Grisham’s newest release is by far the most disturbing but riveting story I’ve read in a long time. Grisham is an author who I know will pull out all the stops to deliver a well-told story that draws me in. This story was disturbing to me because the idea that an innocent man is convicted on such flimsy evidence and a forced confession appalls me on so many levels. Worse is that he spends the next nine years living in the most deplorable of conditions on death row in virtual solitary confinement. The perks and benefits of freedom that most of us enjoy and usually take for granted is keenly felt by me knowing Donté lives in conditions worse than that of a caged animal and is facing death. The story held me captivated and riveted to the edge of my seat in tense anticipation of what would happen next. Is Travis Boyette really the killer or another wacko seeking notoriety? Will he get to Texas on time to stop the execution? Even if he gets to Texas, will the authorities listen to him?
I did not like Travis Boyette one bit. I felt like he was messing with people and playing games, especially when he would waffle back and forth with Pastor Schroeder about coming forward and admitting his guilt. Boyette’s interest and inappropriate comments about the Pastor’s wife gave me the creeps and I was on edge thinking he was going to attack her.
I really liked Keith Schroeder, the Kansas Lutheran minister to whom Travis Boyette confides. I could really feel the anxiety he was feeling wanting to do the right thing but not sure what that is. I admired his resolve to personally take Boyette to Texas, though it could mean legal trouble for him down the road as he would be obstructing justice by helping Boyette abscond while on parole.
I liked Donté’s lawyer, Robbie Flak. He is like a pit-bull in his defense of Donté. He goes the extra mile, working tirelessly to stop the execution and though he comes across as a bit fanatic at times, it’s obvious to the reader that he is devoted to his profession and that it’s more than just a job for him.
Whether you support or oppose the death penalty, this story will make you think, it will disturb you, it will give you hope and it will disappoint you. Most of all, it will keep you holding your breath, turning each page to see what happens next.
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