Book Review: The Confession by John Grisham

Grisham’s books have this familiar quality to them and even though I think The Firm and A Time to Kill stand head and shoulders above his other more recent books, I generally pick up his latest and find it enjoyable.  One of his most unusual works is the non-fiction Innocent Man that he released in 2006 and which was quite an aberration from his normal writings.  An extremely depressing mostly because it very well researched, it detailed the wrongful murder conviction (and eventual exoneration) of a white high school athlete from Oklahoma.  Despite the exoneration, the entire process left the innocent suspect mentally damaged from his decades in prison.Innocent Man had to have been one of Grisham’s least popular books.  It clearly showed the numerous problems we have and continue to have with the application of the death penalty in the United States.   This case in particular was devoid of any kind of racial bias that seems to lend a distracting slant to death penalty discussions in America.  In short: I’m sure many judged this book by its cover, and passed it over.The Confession seems to be Grisham’s way of getting everyone who ignored The Innocent Man to hear his message.  It’s fiction and it’s hard to tell from the title that it deals with the death penalty.  The parallels between the stories are strong: high school athlete, white girl victim, incompetent prosecutor, incompetent judge, the story takes place in red states that pride themselves on their use of the death penalty, and key evidence is provided by corrupt witnesses.Even though this book is essentially a fictional rehashing of a previous work, I found myself admiring Grisham’s guts.  He believes that the death penalty is a problem.  He’s lent his name to two books to this effect.  He wants to persuade you, and he’s probably just pissed off a majority of his readers, including those who tried to avoid his last book.Whether or not you agree with the death penalty, you should read one of these books as they’re great food for though.  My advice?  Read Innocent Man. You’ll wish it was fiction.

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