Book Review: The Confession

Author: John Grisham

Narrator: Scott Sowers

Publisher: Doubleday

Copyright date: 2010

Pages: 432

Genre: Legal Thriller

Reason for Reading: I love this author’s work

Rating: A+

Award Won: Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Summary (from the book jacket):

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?

My Thoughts:

I’ve read everything John Grisham has written. He almost always manages to give me a book that is both entertaining and thought provoking.

On the entertaining side, I love that he takes me to places I’ll never experience in real life. The story was told from a variety of character’s perspectives. I especially liked the characters of the young minister in Kansas and the defense attorney in Texas. There were others but these two were well developed.

When it comes to making me think, this book gave me a triple dose of thought provocation. At the heart of the story is the subject of the death penalty, but Grisham  also highlights how poor police work and the prosecution’s push for convictions can corrupt the whole system. Politicians don’t fare well in this story either. If that’s not enough, I also contemplated ministerial ethic.

Three of my fellow Quirky Girls are Texans and I say this in all due respect: Texas comes off very poorly in this book. Halfway through the novel I vowed to never visit Texas again. By the end, however, I backed down on that vow. Some of my favorite traveling time has been in the Bluebonnet State and I’d hate to deny myself future fun trips. In spite of what’s happening in Texas, this is a great inside look at our legal system.

The pros and cons of the death penalty question is something I’d like to see resolved within my lifetime. I serious doubt I’ll see that. In the meantime, if you’d like a fictional look at the subject, this is a great one.

About the Harper Lee Prize For Legal Fiction:

John Grisham is the inaugural winner for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction for his work in The Confession. The new literary award will be given annually to published fiction that “best exemplifies the positive role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.”

The award, named after the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, who approved the award, marks the 50th anniversary of the classic book’s publication and is co-sponsored by The University of Alabama School of Law (where Lee attended) and the ABA Journal, the American Bar Association’s flagship magazine.

About Margot

I'm also known as Joyfully Retired. I love to talk. I love to talk about books I've read, movies I've seen, places I've traveled to, people (especially my children and grandchildren), and Food. On the Quirky Girls Read blog I'm trying to read all the books that have won the major awards and then, of course, talk about them.
This entry was posted in Award Winners, Fiction, Posts by Margot and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Book Review: The Confession

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    Oh, this does sound good! The death penalty is something I really struggle with so I’m sure this would give me a lot to consider.

  2. I have enjoyed many Grisham books, but it’s been awhile since I read one. Now I’m convinced that I should pick up this one and soon! Thanks for the compelling review.

  3. Staci@LifeintheThumb says:

    He wrote another one about the death penalty and it really caused me quite a bit of anguish. Still not sure where I stand on it but this one sounds wonderful and I haven’t read Grisham in a very long time!

  4. Bumbles says:

    He wrote a non-fiction one called The Innocent Man: Murder & Injustice In A Small Town. It was quite a bit slanted, since the police didn’t offer their side of things to him, but what I took from it most was how immensely our country fails the mentally ill. I am anti-death penalty and after reading that book it is fairly obvious that Grisham is as well. This book you’ve reviewed seems to have been born from his non-fiction research. Thankfully, DNA research now can help keep wrongly convicted off of death row, or remove them before it is irrevocable. I’m still not convinced that the death penalty serves any valid purpose other than legal vengeance – I don’t think it is a deterrent to criminals. I might feel differently if it were my loved one brutalized by someone, but thankfully I don’t have to weigh that personally now and pray I never have to.

  5. stacybuckeye says:

    I’m also anti-death penalty and have read several thought provoking novels addressing the issue, the first being The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer which still remains a favorite. Grisham is hit or miss with me, but I’m guessing I’d like this one given its subject matter. Thanks for letting me know, Margot!

  6. kaye says:

    I do like John Grisham and this one sounds good.

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