Zion U.C.C.’s Book Club met Thursday, January 27, 2011 to discuss John Grisham’s The Confession. Here is a synopsis: An innocent man is about to be executed. 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 Donte 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; Donte 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?
As reviewers, Book Club members give this novel 7 thumbs up and one neutral review (felt it was too wordy). Mr. Grisham certainly knows how to tell a story and generally develops intricate, interesting plots. A few of the characters seemed stereotyped to an extent, and some of the plot resolutions seemed too pat, but the story was certainly gripping. The reader was never in doubt of Mr. Grisham’s view of the death penalty, but was given lots of food for thought to determine his/her own ethical stance on this controversial penalty for heinous crimes. Light was shed on how the death penalty is applied in certain areas of the country, the political machinations playing out behind the scenes, flaws in the judicial process, and the heartrending emotions of an innocent man convicted in error and sentenced to death. The effect on the families of both the victim and the wrongly convicted inmate are vividly portrayed. And, of course, the Book Club members all wondered if our own Pastor Kim would choose the same course selected by the minister to whom the murderer reveals his involvement in the crime! All in all, The Confession is an entertaining read.
Thanks to Cindy for this great synopsis!