“The Confession” by John Grisham (Doubleday, 2010)


In John Grisham’s latest legal thriller, The Confession, he takes on the tough subject of the death penalty.  While it soon becomes clear, as one gets into the book, where Grisham stands on this touchy subject, The Confession is an interesting and entertaining exploration of Texas and death row and what happens when the wrong person is headed for lethal injection; at times the reader is left reminding themselves that this is a work of fiction.

Donté Drumm is an African-American high school football star who in 1998 was accused then arrested for the murder of Nicole Yarber, a white cheerleader whose body was never found, in Sloane, Texas.  It’s almost eight years later and he’s been on death row even since, and now stands but a few days away from receiving the lethal injection.   Enter Travis Boyette, a creepy old guy with a rap sheep of multiple sex offender convictions who has a massive brain tumor and knows he’s not long for this world.  He reveals himself to a Kansas minister, Keith Schroeder, confessing that he killed the girl.  Boyette goes into detail about how he killed her and where he buried the body.  And the race is on to get Boyette to Texas, to get all the lawyers involved and see if they can stop the execution of an innocent man in time.

Grisham does little to defend the death penalty in The Confession, making the book more of a political statement than an entertaining thriller, and yet for readers who wonder what might happen in a situation where the person on death row is clearly innocent, this book will provide a lot of the answers.

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Originally written on February 3, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.