Travis Boyette kidnapped, raped, and murdered a high school cheerleader in 1998 in Texas, a state inextricably linked with the death penalty. Just released from prison in 2007 for another abduction, he confesses to a small-town Kansas minister. Sounds simple enough, but the twist is that Donte Drumm is four days away from being executed for the crime.
Grisham hits a lot of the problems with the death penalty in the United States in his work of fiction--the railroaded confession, the issue of race relations/racism (white victim, black "criminal"), social class, and vengeance clouding the issue (having someone punished can outweigh making certain the actual offender is in custody). Yes, this is an "agenda book," and I happen to agree with the author's point-of-view. Ultimately, the unequal application of the death penalty (bias on the basis of race, social class, and gender) and the fact that people can be (and have been) put to death for crimes they didn't commit are the two biggest arguments against the death penalty, in my opinion.
"The evidence never speaks. It has no voice. Humans interpret it." ~~Kev Hopayian [This is a reference to evidence-based medicine, but works just as well for evidence in criminal cases, I believe.]
Have you read this book? What did you think? If you're a Grisham fan, how does this one compare to his other books?
You can learn more at the book's official site here.
My overall personal rating of The Confession is a B+.