Book Review: The Confession

I know, you’ve totally missed my book reviews. So, get ready, because this one is totally awesome. (and by awesome I mean it’s kind of long due to my tendency for going off on tangents about my high school crush and when kids started having cell phones.)

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One day I was going through a list of books written by John Grisham when I was startled to find that there were only six of his books that I hadn’t read. One of them is The Bleachers, which I started many years ago and never got into. It didn’t seem to be his usual legal thriller, so I just assumed I only like him for his law stuff. So I’ve purposely skipped Skipping Christmas, Playing for Pizza, and A Painted House. Another one, Ford County, is a bunch of short stories that I just haven’t gotten around to reading.

But there, on the list, was one I hadn’t even heard of! How is this even possible? Upon further research, I realized it was because the book had just barely been published. So I put my name on the wait list at the library and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited until I totally forgot it was even going to show up.

Until one day it did show up. I was at the library for a completely different reason when, lo and behold, The Confession was waiting for me! I took it home and started reading immediately.

Let me tell you, I love me some John Grisham courtroom drama. One day I’ll tell you the story of how I was first introduced to Mr. Grisham’s brilliant writings.

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Okay, I’ll tell you now. My junior year of high school I was madly in “love” with this football player (“D”) who was in my English class. We had an assignment to read a book and create a jacket for it. I don’t remember what book I chose, but I noticed that D had done his on The Street Lawyer by some guy I’d never heard of. So, naturally, I made it my duty to read the book. Just in case it ever came up in conversation with D (who I pretty much never spoke to), and we would notice we had this one book in common and then he would fall madly in love with me. Brilliant plan, right? Wrong. It never came up in conversation because I could never bring myself to talk to him. (I found out later he’d never even read the damn book!). So, my plan failed and D didn’t fall in love with me over The Street Lawyer. But I found a new man to love. John Grisham. It’s been the greatest love story of my life so far.

(I’m kidding. About the love story part. The rest of it is true.)

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And now, onto the review.

I loved The Confession. Totally and completely.

Well…except for one little tiny minuscule hardly even worth mentioning thing.

In 1998, a high school girl calls her mother from her cell phone to check in. And sends text messages.

I’m sorry; I couldn’t get over it. Do you know what high school kids had in 1998? Pagers. Or they’d have to find a pay-phone.

This bothered me throughout the story. It’s only mentioned once in the beginning of the story, and I couldn’t let it go. I kept going back to the ex-husband, “Even the rich kids didn’t have cell phones, right? But this girl wasn’t rich so that doesn’t even matter anyway.” I think he was a little annoyed.

So I get to the end of the book and, like always, there is a little note from the author. He talks about how much he hates research and he knows there are factual errors in the book but he doesn’t care because he hates research. I love you Grisham, but I hate you. I hate research too, but cell phones for high school kids in 1998? Fine. Whatever. I’m over it. (not really)

All randomness aside, this was a fantastic thriller dealing with what might happen if the wrong man was put on death row, and the right man came forward with the truth. Without giving too much away, in 1998 a high school girl was abducted, raped and (presumably) murdered. In a crazy string of events, another student at her school is arrested, tried, and sentenced to death for the murder. Nine years later, he finally receives the date of his execution.

Around this time, a few states over, a man comes forward to a minister and tells him about the high school girl. He confesses to raping and murdering her, and tells the minister that he feels guilty that this boy is about to face death for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s suddenly a race to Texas to stop an execution.

The pacing of the story is absolutely excellent. The suspense is almost unbearable. I had to stay up way too late one night because I just couldn’t bring myself to put it down. I had to know what happened. Is the wrong man executed? Is the right man put to trial? What happens to the minister who helped a paroled man cross state lines to confess to the murder? What about the mothers of both the murdered girl and the wrongfully convicted boy? What goes on behind closed doors between judges and prosecutors? What about the lawyer who gave up nine years of his life defending a boy who was convicted, who he always believed was innocent?

There are so many perspectives into the story. The main action unfolds in a small town in Texas, where they just love the death penalty. The narration touches on the constant state of unrest in the small town, when everyone knows that if that boy is put to death all hell will break loose. The reader gets a peek inside the judicial system (as tends to happen in all the Grisham novels I’ve read), and even some of the seedy events that can take place outside of the courtroom.

Oh there is just so much to tell! I want to spill the whole story so you can get the gist of how suspenseful this story really is. So go read the book, and then come back to me and we can gossip about X and X who had an affair even though they were Y and Y in the courtroom during the trial. And how this witness totally lied under oath and may or may not come forward nine years later. And, of course, whether that innocent boy gets executed or not. It’ll be awesome.

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