It seems that John Grisham just never runs out of wonderful stories that make it to the New York Times Bestseller list! The Confession, published in 2011, is one more page-turner that truly captures the reader's total attention.
The Reverend Keith Schroeder had no idea that one of the men in his Sunday service would end up changing not only the events of the next few days but also of both of their lives. When the fellow turned up at his office and told him that he was dying, the minister was not shocked as hearing about people's problems was part of his regular duties. What did surprise him, however, was when the man stated that another man was going to die for a murder that he had committed years ago.
Dante Drumm had been a young football hero in his hometown. His whole life changed, however, when he was convicted of abduction, rape and murder of a high school cheerleader named Nicole Yaber. They were similar in that they were both seniors but differed in that he was black and she was white. When Donte was first picked up by police and taken to the station for questioning, he stated that he was innocent. Hours of interrogation, however, led him to a place where he admitted to the theories that the officers placed before him. And the result was that he was imprisoned for nine years while facing the death sentence.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the way that Grisham was able to bring to life a huge cast of characters and help the reader to understand how each of them contributed not only to the plot but also to the final outcome of the book. The personalities of family and friends who grieved for Nicole and worried about Donte's future, became very real in a matter of only a few lines of print. It was especially interesting, however, to see how the author was able to combine the professional and personal aspects of those who had to make decisions about the case in a manner that revealed ethical dilemmas. We witness the struggles and choices that the minister, lawyers, judges and even the governor face when new information is brought to their attention.
A further dimension involves the groups of people who fight for their beliefs. We are able to identify with high school students, sports teams, media personnel and even the jail staff who are portrayed as strong influences throughout the story.
This book does not merely point to any one person as being "right" or "wrong" but instead focusses on how the "wrongs" of several individuals can pile up so that the justice that everyone seeks is almost impossible to achieve.
John Grisham is one of my favourite authors and I am always excited when he has a new book on the stands. This one was one of his best as it draws the reader into a situation that demands thought and a strong questioning of how each of us could have changed the outcome had we actually been involved.