Monday, January 17, 2011

#BookReview: The Confession - John Grisham


I had another post set for today, but after reading The Confession, especially over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, I felt it was much more appropriate.  I was especially reminded of Dr. King's Letter from A Birmingham Jail in response to A Call for Unity.

I was talking to @TiffanyNHouston on Twitter Friday about whether or not John Grisham has watered down his brand as much as James Patterson.  Tiffany was less than impressed with The Appeal and even less with The Associate.  I would agree with her that those two left something to be desired, but is Grisham headed into the mass marketing of books that are bought strictly based on the author's name and not his substance, like Patterson? I think not and here's why.

The Confession is brilliant.  It's brilliant in the same way that Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was.  Grisham's books, mostly based on legal drama, tend to have the same elements: a small town lawyer at a small firm fighting against a big corporation or the government.  But Grisham is at his best when he throws socioeconomic and/or racial differences into the mix.  I don't know that there's any author writing in this genre that tackles the subject of injustices that can arise based on either of these factors better than him.  Though the author could have set this book in the 50s or 60s, he set it in present day America, a reminder that things like this can, and do, still happen in America.

In short, The Confession is the story of an accused man and his family, his attorney, a Lutheran minister, a confessor and the racially divided small town of Slone, Texas.  Donte' Drumm sits on death row in Texas for a crime he didn't commit.  Railroaded by the police department and the district attorney nine years ago, Donte' will die if a miracle doesn't happen.  That miracle comes in the form of Travis Boyett, a serial rapist that drifted through Slone around the time Donte' was accused.  Dying from an inoperable brain tumor, Travis has something to confess.

What did you like about this book?
Grisham does a great job of telling the story without getting in the way of it.  Though he could make readers struggle through figuring out legalese, he simply tells all sides of the story in the simplest way possible and lets readers draw their own conclusions.

What didn't you like about this book?
It's not so much a dislike of the book, but I really hated some of the characters.  I couldn't get past how selfish and self-involved some of them were, knowing that a man's life hung in the balance while they were busy figuring out if they could make their tee time.

What could the author do to improve this book?
 I can't think of a thing.





418pp
Published October 2010



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