28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
John Grisham is back to his former self. Limited time to avert the execution of an innocent man, but it's dense detail and well-drawn characters are evenly paced. Yes, he has his usual acerbic view of the American Judiciary and the anti-death penalty stance is writ large, but this is a good winter read.
123 of 131 people found the following review helpful
It's not that long ago that I was writing reviews and complaining how a number of the established authors seemed to be churning out a lot of sub standard work; amongst these were Jeffrey Deaver, James Patterson and John Grisham, although the books they were producing were very good, they definitely weren't up to the same standard readers had become accustomed to. With this new novel I am happy to say that I can retract that statement, Grisham seems to have found his mojo!
The majority of the book focuses on the 4 days prior to when Donte Drum is due to be executed for a murder he didn't commit. I liked the way that the book didn't just follow one aspect of the storyline but moved between al of the central characters so one minute you'd be following the storyline of the Lawyer, then you'd be following the actual murdered and then you'd move on to the family of the victim, although not every chapter finished with a cliff hanger, each one left you wanting to know more and eager for that thread of the story to be picked up again.
The novel is very slanted against the death penalty, you would think that when someone's life was at stake everything would be done by the book to ensure no mistakes were made, although this is a work of fiction it does make you wonder how many decisions like this are made for the people involved to simply progress their careers (police, lawyers, DA's, judges, senators etc).
The book is worded in a very factual way, Grisham states what is happening throughout and isn't overly heavy on the emotion, I found that this added to the story rather than detracted from it, it definitely never stopped me from getting emotional when reading it. I think it's been very cleverly written as it is just as though events are being reported on without emotion, which leads you to your own conclusion that the death penalty is wrong, rather than pushing all the emotional buttons to try and get you to believe it's wrong.
I was really impressed with this book and struggled to put it down, it really is Grisham at his best, I'm just hoping that all the other authors that I used to love have learnt from him and will be producing the same high standard again shortly!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2012
With John Grisham's books at least you know what you're in for - well usually.
This was like two books. Book A, a lawyer out to help a hopeless client beat a hopeless case. Book B, as other reviewers have commented, an out and out rant at the judicial system of Texas. But conveniently slotted together as one story.
I found Book A great, a John Grisham classic. Fast, exciting, a real page turner so I could discover what happens next. But Book B boring, monotonous, hectoring. Still a page turner, but only so I could get back to Book A! Saying that, I enjoyed the book, but would have enjoyed it more (and given a better review and more stars) without Book B. I got the point without being lectured to. It just wasn't necessary.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Another page turner from the master of crime fiction . I found that I was reading faster and faster as I got caught up in the race against the clock to save an innocent man following the confession by the perpetrator of the abduction , rape and murder of a beautiful young cheer leader .
It is no coincidence that Grisham has set this one in Texas where the death penalty is common and fair justice is often not . He uses this his latest as a platform to rant against the death penalty and the whole business of appeal after appeal while on death row with the average time spent awaiting execution in Texas being 10 years . He has very strong feelings on this subject , but this does not detract from a fine story and in fact it adds value as it makes one give serious thought to the debate on capital punishment which I was in favour of , but after reading The Confession I am now not so sure .
It's too good to wait for the paperback .
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is not John Grisham's first novel on the subject of the death penalty as he covered the subject before in The Chamber. However, apart from the race against time to save a condemned man from being put to death, the story here is quite different.
It concerns a young black man who was condemned to death a decade earlier in Texas. The author finds an obvious target in the State of Texas. Since the Supreme Court decided that the death penalty was constitutional Texas has carried out an execution, on average, every two weeks and have put to death more than four times as many people as the state with the next highest body count.
This case has all the aspects of the worst of Texan justice, much of which has been documented in real cases - no physical evidence, just a confession extracted from a teenager after a gruelling 15 hour session, a lying witness with an axe to grind, tainted evidence from a prison snitch who testified in return for a reduced sentence, an all white jury, biased judge etc. It takes a long time to carry out an execution with the various layers of appeal, but at each stage the obvious has been ignored and an innocent man is still facing death. Solitary confinement for nine years on death row has had severe physical and mental effects on him - this is by no means an unusual period as 10 years is the norm.
This tale is absorbing, constantly a page turner with the countdown to the scheduled execution proceeding and Grisham writes about it with some passion. It does clearly come across that this is a subject that the author feels strongly about. This book ranks right up there with the best of John Grisham's writing.
49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2010
Once again, Grisham has produced a fabulous book which is very hard to put down. I was even trying to sneak in a couple of pages while making coffee for our lunch guests!
It appears to be overtly anti-death-penalty, but in a way that is effectively (if somewhat sensationally at times!) reasoned. There's nothing preachy about the stance, rather, Grisham weaves it into what is a tremendous story.
The plot involves the last-minute efforts of a number of people to avert the execution of a man they are convinced is innocent. As such, it's edge of your seat stuff, as the characters are involved in a race against time. The plot is superb, and the characters are developed well. There's an emotional roller-coaster to ride too, with the wider implications such an execution would bring to bear on a Texan town. Obviously, I'm not going to give the game away here, but it's a cracker of a book.
For those disappointed by 'Theodore Boone' (though I myself wasn't!), this is definitely a return to the 'adult' market for Grisham, with skillful narrative and character development injected into every page.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2010
The past few Grisham novels I have found dissapointing. Some, even, I havent finished. I'm pleased to report that I thoroughly enjoyed this book!!! It was one of those that kept me reading until 3am. It is a fast-paced novel, packed with suspense and action guarenteed to keep you awake at night!
The story revolves around an innocent man on death row in Texas and a reverend, lawyer and the guilty man's attempts to redeem him in the final hours of his life.
Well done John Grisham another riveting read!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2012
My husband read his book and said it was so exciting that I just had to read it. I've never read a Grisham before, and I have to say I found the book depressing, unlike say a Dan Brown which is thrilling. The subject - an innocent man sentenced to death - isn't exactly the most uplifting thing you can read about. Obviously the thrill element to the story is whether Donte "gets the needle" or not. Unfortunately, and rather bizarrely, the denouement comes about two thirds of the way through the book, so the last third is a bit on the dull side with a kind of wash-up of what happened to all the characters next, including a rather irritatingly unbelievable plot twist with one of them. If you find this in an airport bookshop then it's worth buying but I wouldn't rush out to get it.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2010
I read The Confession in a matter of days, reading a couple chapters before catching the train to university each morning and devouring a hundred pages at a time at night.
I'm glad to say that Grisham is back to his best. Theodore Boone was an easy read, but it wasn't as captivating for an adult audience because this was not the target demographic. Grisham's previous entries in the past few years, although wonderfully written, have always left me feeling unsatisfied towards the end - books such as The Appeal and The Associate.
In The Confession, however, Grisham captivates the reader and pulls them in to the story, which is non-stop from the first page. He can skillfully deliver twists with single sentences that are like blows to the gut, and he extracts raw emotion from the reader. One can't help but feel anger with the brutal subject matter, and rarely can an author do this so well.
Grisham is back on form and streets ahead of his closest rivals in this new novel. Let's hope he can keep up to the bar he has set in the future.
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2011
I've read all of John Grisham's books and he is an author that I shall continue to enjoy. His writing technique allows a reader to become quickly immersed into a given story whilst managing to simplify legal jargon that the average reader wouldn't ordinarily understand.
The Confession, tells the story of Travis Boyette, a serial offender whose actions have severe implications on the life of Donte Drumm, the man ultimately arrested and sentenced to death for the murder and rape of a popular high school cheerleader.
Whilst emotive the subject of the death penalty may be, The Confession doesn't manage to capture it in it's entirety. There are instances of sadness of course, but in the main, it seems clinical, a set of circumstance and character moulded to suit the authors needs, specifically constructed to highlight the shortcomings and the authors personal views of the death penalty.
Ultimately, in a novel of this nature the success lies in the readers contrast in views from when they started the book to when they finished. I challenge anyone pro death penalty to read this and not at least waver in their standpoint.
Grisham has proved time and time again that he can write thrilling legal novels. Yes, they are enjoyable to read, but over the twenty years he has been writing, have his books developed as much as his readership?