Narrator: Scott Sowers
Copyright date: 2010
Genre: Legal Thriller
Reason for Reading: I love this author’s work
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?
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.