The Confession

by John Grisham

Hardcover, 2010



When Travis Boyette is paroled because of inoperable brain tumor, for the first time in his life, he decides to do the right thing and tell police about a crime he committed and another man is about to be executed for.


½ (876 ratings; 3.7)


Media reviews

There’s a lot of padding in “The Confession.” The story’s outcome is invested with surprisingly little suspense. And the climactic moments play out long before the book is over. So this is a solid yet sluggish novel that is not one of Mr. Grisham’s barnburners.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lchav52
The question of the death penalty is a knotty one for those who think rather than allow themselves to be ruled by emotion. On the one hand, the machinery and process of execution is dehumanizing both to the condemned and to the people performing it. It is certainly not a thing to be celebrated. On
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the other hand, certain crimes are so repugnant and heinous, certain criminals so vicious and monstrous, that the ultimate penalty seems only appropriate. For the thinking person, a conundrum.

John Grisham's THE CONFESSION confronts us with the worst nightmare of the system - the possibility of executing an innocent - and, in so doing, highlights the serious flaws in the way capital punishment is practiced in the United States. Even if one is not an abolitionist, even if one reluctantly believes - as I have - that such an extreme measure should be available for the worst outrages against safety and society, intellectual and moral honesty compels one to admit that such errors can occur, and likely have already done so. If execution is to be available, something must be done to guard against such an occurrence.

The book is not a dry, legal treatise. The reader is brought quickly into the count-down through the eyes of the frantic defense attorney, the families of the murder victim and the condemned man counting down his last days, and the Lutheran minister who must decide if the dying man confronting him in his church office, and claiming to be the real killer, is credible enough to risk his church, his family, and perhaps his freedom to right a faraway wrong. Grisham has long been noted as one of our best story-tellers, and he doesn't fail here.

Read it, and then ponder its issues.
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LibraryThing member DekeDastardly
I hadn't read a Grisham since early works and I recall the gripping legal and courtroom dramas which went on to become Holywood box office. My concerns that somewhere along the way Grisham may have overcooked the ingredients were borne out by The Confession. The book has a simple and predictable
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plot and lacks any of the genuine legal intrigues of the early works. It's not a bad book as such but I found it hard work not because of any complexities but due to a failure to engage with the poorly drawn characters or to find any real interest in the political sub plots until near the end. In fact I couldn't help but feel that the effort could have been expended on a real life case of similar injustice which would be more enthralling and edgy, and which would make the reader care more.
Up to the point at which the will he wont he be executed question is resolved some two thirds of the way along I struggled to pick up the book, though the political aftermath provided more interesting material and the finale of cover up and the likelihood of further injustices. My preference would be for real life over fiction as a more powerful and courageous way to make the point that where the death penalty exists, racism, greed and political ambition overide any considerations of justice and taking of the innocent life of a powerless individual.
Grisham briefly comes into his own at the end in setting a scene where the dignified actions of the aggrieved and bereaved face down an inflamed and violent racial situation threatening to engulf a whole town, and that dignity is seized upon by self serving politicians on the brink of oblivion to snuff out fires of change in favour of their prefered status quo.
I was left with a sense that Grisham may have exhausted this seam and that The Confession is the disappointing and perhaps understandble result of pressure to deliver yet another blockbuster. I can't see myself picking up another Grisham in favour of other reading unless the word is that he has turned his talented hand to something different or that he has rediscovered his early zest.
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LibraryThing member silva_44
I wonder if John Grisham could have hit me with the "the death sentence is evil" hammer more than he did in The Confession. The novel is a ridiculous push piece, and nothing more than left-wing propaganda. He really must have been hitting the kool-aid hard to come up with this drivel. Gone are the
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days of his fast-paced courtroom drama thrillers, to be replaced by this nonsense. BOO!
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LibraryThing member abutler_14
The first 200 pages flew by and were wonderfully paced. The last 300 pages dragged on for what seemed like ions. Grisham has always been one of my favorite writers, but so many of his new ones do not live up to his early novels. Overall, not bad, but definitely not great.
LibraryThing member dickmanikowski
I was excited to see a new John Grisham legal thriller on the library's New Books shelf, but the book disappointed me. The story line and the characters are good, but he carries the story on way too long. He's trying to make a point (which I happen to totally agree with) about the inherent dangers
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of capital punishment. But he extends the story far beyond its logical ending point in his efforts to show the after-effects on all the participants in the story.
The novel is still worth reading, but it's certainly not one of Grisham's best.
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LibraryThing member ozzieslim
I thoroughly enjoyed this Grisham novel. Know going in that this book has a bias against the death penalty. I noticed that many people were perturbed by this and also felt that this was a soap box novel. I wasn't bothered by any of these aspects. This was one of the better Grisham novel for several
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Usually, his novels run 300 pages and at times have ended abruptly. Grisham did not limit himself this time and the story unfolded over 515 pages. The size was necessary to the story and had he tried to edit it to less pages and words, I think the telling of the story would have suffered.

In this book, unlike others, there were a few more twists and I would say, more of a realistic reflection on what happens. The day was not saved. An innocent man was put to death despite the race against time in the first third of the book. There were also some story lines that were set up and got you thinking that something might happen that did not play out. A little bit of mystery.

There were a lot of characters - more than the average for one of his novels. Paths converged but there were enough characters that left you with some to like and to some to hate and some not to feel anything about. Like many books, there were a few things that happened that were either unbelievable or unlikely but these did not detract from the bigger story.

Having worked for many years in the legal business I enjoyed the truth of justice not being black and white. I also enjoyed the truth that there are a lot of corrupt people in this business. Many cops, many attorneys and many judges. Don't be fooled into thinking idealistically about those who are supposed to uphold the law. More often than not, they are driven by self interest and politics, egotistical narcissism and corruption. The bigger the legal issue, the more likely to find these qualities and they were all in display in The Confession.

Grisham is my little escape between other reads because I know it will be a fast read and I will be fully engaged. 48 hours well spent. If you can enjoy a biased opinion on the death penalty, you will probably really enjoy this book. If an opinion that doesn't jive with yours drives you crazy - give this one a miss and read The Firm. It's my other favorite Grisham.
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LibraryThing member emlzcole
An entertaining read but certainly not one of Grisham's best books.
LibraryThing member khiemstra631
More standard Grisham, although this novel does have a twist to it. The feel is familiar, and the legal arguments abundant. There are humorous moments as well as sad ones. All in all, it's an enjoyable weekend read.
LibraryThing member Pam1960ca
GREAT read! Loved every minute of this book. John Grisham is the man when it comes to storytelling!!!
LibraryThing member emilycsims
For 2/3 of this book, Grisham had me. I am a huge fan of his earlier books (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Runaway Jury, etc.), but his books the last five or years have disappointed. I haven't picked up a Grisham novel in quite a while, but the plot of "The Confession" grabbed my interest--a
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young black man is set to be executed in Texas, and the real killer is ready to confess. The police and prosecutors don't want to hear that they have the wrong man, and it's up to the defense attorney and a minister to set things right.

The crazy rush to try and stop the execution was a thrill ride to read--adn I won't ruin it for you and tell you whether or not they were successful.

Because of the heart racing pace of the book, I couldn't put it down. In my opinion, it's no coincidence that his main character is a minister, because the author has some preaching to do. This is where the book lost me a bit, and I was disappointed. While I agree with the author's stance on the death penalty, he was far too heavy handed. Her practically beats the reader upside the head with his opinions, and readers don't tend to appreciate that. At one point, he gives a long-winded rundown of the various anti-death penalty groups in the nation. This is in no way central to the story, but is strictly designed for the reader. I imagine Grisham hopes that after reading the novel, we will all immediately go to one of these organizations' web sites and sign up. Grisham even tells us how much it costs to be a member.

Had he not delved to far into preachiness, I would have rated this book higher. It truly is a thrill ride, and you don't know what's going to happen until it does. I'd recommend it, but tread lightly at the end.
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LibraryThing member Clara53
No doubt, a brilliant case against death penalty. But though it did have a page-turner quality about it, like most John Grisham's novels, this one was a bit predictable almost from the beginning - as soon as the character of Travis Boyette was introduced and explained. The only thing that still
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held my attention was the hope that the good deed would be done and execution stopped. But alas, Grisham had to have his dark side prevail.
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LibraryThing member Schmerguls
This book is very easy reading and is the 20th Grisham book I have read. The lawyer involved in defending the guy who was browbeaten into giving the false confession is a competent and hard-working lawyer, even if excessively flamboyant. I found the book often poignant and was caght up in the
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account most of the time. It is one of Grisham's better books, though maybe I say that because I do not believe anybody, even the state, should kill with deliberation and malice aforethought except in self-defense..
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LibraryThing member acook
Not up to usual Grisham standards. Nclimax of story occurs about halfway through. The rest is wrap up. I've enjoyed a lot ofnhis previous works because I couldn't tell exactly where he was going with them. This one isn't like that. I thought the second half was tedious and almost boring.
LibraryThing member PatrickJIV
Book started off pretty good, but less than half way through started to get ho-hum. Was disappointing read.
LibraryThing member blockbuster1994
As a career prosecutor, I am most certainly a law-and-order person. I think that punishment should be dealt out according and that the judicial system generally works. Even though this is fiction, it certainly is not beyond the realm of reality....when death is the ultimate punishment, there is no
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room for errors.

Grisham explores the errors that can plague an emotionally charged case: bad cops who use brawn and intimidation, the media visibity of emotionally wrought victims, prosecutors being steadfastly result orientated, appellate courts rubber stamping and affirming, all of which results in the voices of the innocent being ignored, being disregarded or flat out being denied.

Of course, when the crime is henious, such as the murder of a young girl (here a 17 year old white cheerleader from Texas), the public cry for retribution is loud. And the many characters in the City of Sloan team together to deliver a result.

Grisham tends to have characters in the extreme--the good ones are wholly good and the bad ones are wholly bad. I know this going into the story, so I don't get distracted. I think that formula works well in The Confession, leaving the reader to truly consider the implications of the Death Penalty.

After being a life time supporter, I remain committed to pursue death if appropriate as per my job, but personally, I am struggling with the reality of it. Whether that is from age, life experiences, or my Christian view, I am not sure, but this book certainly brought that debate back into the forethought of my mind.
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LibraryThing member meroof30
This is a novel that fits in well with the real story of "An Innocent Man". I used to believe in the death penalty, but now I realize that many innocent people have been put to death.
In North Carolina, work in the SBI laboratory has been shoddy, and has already led to the release of innocent men.
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Just think how many innocent people are languishing in jails and
prisons because prosecuting attorneys and local law enforcement have taken it upon themselves to decide guilt or innocence.
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LibraryThing member rosalita
I wasn't really looking to read another legal-eagle book after recently reading [The Justice Game] and [Innocent], and this book may have suffered in comparison to those. In brief, on the eve of execution of Donte Drumm for a murder he swears he never committed, a serial rapist surfaces to confess
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to a Lutheran minister that he is the real killer. But will he agree to make his story public, will anyone believe him, and will it be enough to prevent Donte's execution? Grisham's characters tend to be fairly one-dimensional, and I never felt like I knew any of them well enough to really feel engaged with their struggle. At the same time, the book is unabashedly anti-death penalty (to the point of heavy-handedness at times), and the look inside a dysfunctional justice system was horrifying, to say the least.
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LibraryThing member amccullough
A wonderful case for the abolishment of capital punishment.
LibraryThing member jovilla
A lutheran minister listens to an apparently terminally ill guy confess to the rape and murder of a high school student in Texas. An innocent man would soon be executed for this murder. Thus begins John Grisham's latest suspenseful book. Very enjoyable.
LibraryThing member hadden
Interesting how decisions, some made well, others made badly, other impulsively, end up magnifying each other. A well paced book. Some of the characters are bland, but then, many of them are like real bland people- they are not made more interesting by events. Fools remain fools, even in drama.
LibraryThing member DBower
This was a good read with a social message.
LibraryThing member michaeldwebb
This was quite an odd book. I had flu, so I needed something easy reading. I'd read a Grisham before and it was quite a page turner, easy going, nothing too complicated. This was the same really, although, as I mentioned, a bit odd in some ways.

Spoilers aheader.

The main story of the book appears
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to be a race against time to save an innocent man from being put death for a murder he didn't commit. The real murderer confesses to a priest, and they race against time to get to Texas to save him. Fair enough. The thing is, you start to realise that there is nearly a third of the book left, and they aren't going to get there in time. This makes the first two thirds of the book feel a bit pointless.

They expose the real killer just after the innocent guy is executed, and the final third of the book just meanders around a bit. Maybe the story is supposed to be about what would happen if America did execute an innocent man. Maybe this works in the USA, but I'm pretty sure the rest of the word believes that the USA must ocassionally execute the wrong person, so the impact is lost.

The book also has racial undertones - the innocent is black, the murdered white. I felt pretty uncomfortable with language and stereotyping - the black community would just referred to as 'the blacks' and the whites 'the whites'.

In the end, the book felt like an odd mixture of run of the mill airport novel, protest about the death penalty, and social commentary.
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LibraryThing member cmeilink
John Grisham delivers in this roller coaster-ride novel.

Donté Drumm has been found guilty of killing Nicole, a Texas high school cheerleader, and sits on death row awaiting his execution. Long professing his innocence, no one else believes in him but his lawyer and his family.

Just a few days
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before his execution, Keith, a minister in Kansas, meets Travis Boyette, a man on parole who confesses that he murdered Nicole.

The next few days are a race against time as Keith, Boyette, and Donté's lawyer try to stop the execution.

The Confession is a powerful book with strong, believable characters and gives a realistic perspective on the death penalty issue.
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LibraryThing member Doondeck
Just what you wanted from a Grisham thriller. Fast paced story and interesting characters. Clever twist how the exoneration became the end game.
LibraryThing member kerinlo
To me this is throwback Grisham. I enjoyed Grisham's early work- A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker-- but have not found much to cheer about lately... until now. This story is exciting, it is riveting, and it is complex. Grisham follows the story of a man wrongfully
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sentences to death in Texas and his lawyer's desperate attempts to save his life. Great read.
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DOUBLEDAY (2010), Edition: 1st, 418 pages

Original publication date





0385528043 / 9780385528047


Original language

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