I’m always excited for the newest John Grisham book to come out. They are so excellently packed with action, intrigue and suspense. Nine times out of ten, I pick it up and can’t put it down. There’s a reason why he’s a best seller. It would take me a day to shuffle my favorites of his books into order from best to worst because there’s are so many good ones and so few bad ones. When I heard there was a new Grisham book out, of course I had to read it.
Grisham is not a fan of the death penalty and he tackles the subject with a vengeance in The Confession. The story is about an innocent man, Donte Drumm, who is convicted of murdering a young girl, Nicole Yarber. The confession was gotten through some seriously questionable activities by a cop who was eager for an arrest. The trial was prosecuted by a lawyer who was sleeping with the judge. The governor is a good ol’ boy who knows his Texan constituents love their politicians to use lethal injection as often as possible. It’s like a perfect storm of everything that can go wrong with a trial. And the person who suffers because of it is poor Donte Drumm.
The story revolves around Keith Schroeder, a Lutheran minister in Topeka, Kansas who encounters the real killer of Nicole Yarber, Travis Boyette. Boyette is a serial rapist, fresh out of prison for his crimes and finds out that the execution of Donte Drumm is looming. He feels remorse for an innocent man to die for his crime, so he confesses to Schroeder, forcing Schroeder to agonize over what to do with this information. Should he drive Boyette to Texas and try to stop the execution? He tries everything he can over the phone to get the attention of the lawyers on all sides, but everybody thinks he’s mislead and Boyette is a crackpot. The fact that Boyette knows where Nicole’s body is, which was never recovered, doesn’t seem to phase anybody. Schroeder finally convinces Boyette to give himself up and they leave for Texas.
The book is incredibly suspenseful and the emotional impact of what happens with Donte was powerful, but I felt like Grisham was trying to beat the reader over the head. He argues that if killing is wrong, then why does the government get to do it? But he takes someone the reader knows is innocent and has every possible bad scenario play out. Could he have written something just as convincing with a monstrous killer, convicted justly and deserving of his crimes?
I liked the suspense of The Confession, but I felt like it was emotionally manipulative and heavy-handed. It made for lots of conversation with my husband about the death penalty, but I think Grisham’s book, The Chamber was a better approach to the topic. Well, even if this book was a bust, I’ll still read the next. After all, I always love a new Grisham novel.