March 30, 2013

Book review: The Confession by John Grisham

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An innocent man is about to be executed.
Only a guilty man can save him.

In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, Travis Boyette 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?

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

I'm a fan of John Grisham's legal thrillers, having read at least ten of his books, but I haven't read a Grisham novel in three years after A Painted House left a bad taste in my mouth. (If there was ever a poster child for the authors-shouldn't-change-genres sentiment, A Painted House was it.)

Fortunately, Grisham returned to my good graces with The Confession. This book is on par with many of his other legal thrillers. Expect the same journeys into the legal system, the same twists and turns, and the same easy-to-read prose as you'd get with many of his prior novels. While not as good as some of my favorite Grisham books like The Runaway Jury and The Partner, The Confession is still entertaining in its own right. I found the story a bit drawn out at times, and it was longer than it needed to be, but it was still a good read.

After reading the book, I did find myself a little scared that the legal system could allow an innocent man to be sent to death when it seemed pretty obvious that he wasn't guilty. I don't know how accurately Grisham portrayed the finer points of Texas law, but if his intent was to make a statement about the legal system and capital punishment in particular, he certainly succeeded as far as I was concerned.

I read this book as part of the Authors A to Z reading challenge. Next up: The Line by Teri Hall.

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