A prisoner’s mantra is always – “I didn’t do it.” In the case of Donté Drumm, a young black man on death row, convicted of killing a fellow high school classmate, it’s true – he didn’t do it. In The Confession, John Grisham had me from the beginning, and I read straight through to the end.
It’s days before the execution and the real killer, Travis Boyette, a psychopathic killer, dying of a brain tumor, but reluctant to reveal the truth, seeks out a Lutheran minister to confess.
As Grisham neatly stereotypes the players – both villains and heroes – it was like watching episodes on a really good made-for-TV murder mystery. I cringed when the bad guys were ahead, and cheered when Kevin, the Pastor, and Robbie Flak, Drumm’s attorney, scored.
Throughout the narrative, Grisham’s opinion on the death penalty is clear. The bumbling authorities, the greed for death-by-injection at any cost, the blatant ignorance, and criminal denial of due process – all to insure that someone pays for a crime – no matter who. DNA enters as a new tool for identification, but it’s people seeking the truth, not forensic science that Grisham uses in the process to exonerate an innocent man. In reality, thirty-five states now have the death penalty; Illinois legislature just voted to abolish it, sending the bill to the governor.
Will Donté’s defense attorney who has been appealing the forced confession and sham trial for nine years in the Texas courts be able to use the information to save Donté?
You’ll need to read the book to find out – it won’t take long. The Confession is Grisham at his best.