Just finished reading John Grisham's latest novel, The Confession. A legal thriller, like any of the typical Grisham novel, it also strongly endorses a political viewpoint. Actually this can be seen as the fictionalization of his first and the only non-fiction till date, The Innocent man, about death penalty and the necessity to abolish it. When you are writing a novel on a social injustice and at the same time want it to be a best seller, you have to tread a very conflicting path, and Grisham almost succeeds here. He does it by pacing the story adequately that the readers never complains of stagnancy and at the same time bringing the emotional conflicts of those involved to the fore front. Another good thing that I noticed is that, all blame is not put on a single shoulder. Each of the characters have their own reasons to behave the way they are and the responsibility is collective.
A young man, accused of rape and murder of a cheerleader is facing death row and just a few days before execution, the real culprit, dying from cancer, comes out to save him. What follows is a race against time to convince lawyers, judges and politicians that a life is at stake and justice is to be violated. The title works in two levels. The only evidence against Drumm, the wrongfully accused black football star, is a confession that was beaten out of him. And even the true confession from Travis, the rapist, is not enough to acquit him of the crime he never done.
My only complaint is about the racial angle given to the story. Was that required? It makes the setting too similar to Grisham's first novel A Time to Kill. But again by not making a happy ending story Grisham defies the frame of a commercial pulp novel and gives this one a realistic touch. And the real skill is in making the reader not feel any disappointment in the process.