Mark’s #38 – The Confession by John Grisham (432 pages)

The Confession is the latest legal thriller from accomplished author John Grisham.  I’ve read many of Grisham’s books and have enjoyed almost all of them.  In this book I found that in some ways I was more engrossed and captivated by the story than any other Grisham book I’ve read,  and at the same time, very much turned off by Grisham’s blatant political agenda in the book.

This is the second book that I’ve read of at least three books that Grisham has written about the death penalty.

The basic premise of the book is that a white girl in a small Texas town goes missing.  After no evidence is found, the police receive a ‘tip’ that it was a young black classmate of the girl.  During the interrogation the detectives manage to force a confession out of the boy, who is subsequently convicted and sentenced to the death penalty.

Meanwhile, the real killer is free.  Days before the scheduled execution, the real killer begins to come forward with his own confession…  The bulk of the book takes place during these tense last hours.  From this standpoint, I was enthralled by the tension and the storyline (I don’t want to give away anymore details, as it may ruin some of the tension for potential readers of the book).

However, it is clear that Grisham is trying to blast the ethics of capital punishment… along the way, he uses the most common arguments put forth by liberals: the fallibility of the criminal justice system, “excessive” governmental power, the insufficiency of revenge as a motive, and most predominantly in the book –  the possibility of executing an innocent person.

Various Christians and pastors are predominant throughout the book – and as a pastor myself, I was intrigued to see how their views were represented.  Sadly, Grisham does a very poor job on this crucial element of his book.

In this entry, I do not have the time or space to give a more balanced, thoughtful, and in-depth view of this sensitive issue.  However, for anyone interested, I would highly recommend  J. Daryl Charles article “The Ethics of Capital Punishment” found here:

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