Exciting race against time with the ultimate ending, which serves to confirm Australia's attitude towards the death penalty. In all probability this was JohnGrisham's intention. I'll be ordering more of his novels soon.
Travis Boyette sits in the waiting room of a Lutheran pastor's office in Topeka, Kansas. And watches the pastor's wife Dana working at the computer. Readers squirm at Boyette's obsession with Dana as his thoughts return to her throughout the book.
Boyette is a convicted sex offender who confides to Pastor Keith Schroeder that he is dying of a brain tumor. He wants to confess to a murder he committed in Texas. He wants to go on the record before an innocent man is executed for this crime--in four days. Keith agrees to drive Boyette to Texas and, after some initial stalls, the race against the clock begins.
The story is well-written, with both surprises and the expected. The characters are fascinating. Robbie Flack is a louder-than-life defense lawyer trying to save his innocent-but-resigned client. Reeva Yarber Pike, the murdered girl's mother wallows in the public role of a wronged parent who deserves vengeance. Reeva is much less likeable than the man who has waited quietly for nine years to be executed for her daughter's murder. While others race to save him, Donte Drumm can do nothing.
Travis Boyette is the most fascinating of all. He lies much, but not all of the time. Some of what he says turns out to be true. He is believable and frightening. The drawn-out way he says "Pa-a-astor..." and "She's so-o-o cute..." is consistently chilling. You find yourself worrying that he is in the room with you.
Clearly one of Grisham's goals is to air his views about the death penalty and the Texas legal system. This is fine with me, even though I don't agree with all of these opinions. For most of the book Grisham also gives full attention to his other goal of producing an entertaining legal thriller. In the closing chapters, however, I feel he lets the story stagnate as he places death penalty issues more directly on stage. It was a noticeable shift and not an enjoyable one.
I recommend reading the book--all of it. The story and characters are engaging. The closing sermon is instructive, if somewhat less entertaining. So be it.
Very legal and not very thriller. With this novel Grisham returns after "The Chamber" and "Innocent" to deal with the capital punishment and to denounce the American judicial system, of the states where it is still applied, for the manner in which it is too lightly used for political purposes. The tagline on the cover ("An innocent man is days from execution. Only a guilty man can save him.") lets mistakenly think it is a thriller, although it is defined this way. In fact, this fictional, but entirely plausible (and that's what scares), story once again talks about the people, for good or especially bad. Its characters are damn real, starting with Travis Boyette, the one who confesses, who with his tics and pauses, his controversial personality of a criminal with feelings of guilt, because someone is paying for his crime, results in reader annoyance, disgust, but also pity. It isn't the classic villain, but a character who lives in the grey area between the light and the dark, someone in whom we can identify despite his story. Here we see the talent of this writer, who with the achievement of a stable reputation is free of telling his stories, which do not have a final twist or a happy ending like in real life. But they are true, almost more than reality. As the plot develops in an intentionally slow way, jumping from one place to another, you don't lose at all your concentration, but you are caught by it to the end. And even if it leaves with a bitter disappointment, at the same time there is something comforting, that makes you close the book with a sense of satisfaction. The one you feel after reading a good book.