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Only a guilty man can save him.
For every innocent man sent to prison, there is a guilty one left on the outside. He doesn’t understand how the police and prosecutors got the wrong man, and he certainly doesn’t care. He just can’t believe his good luck. Time passes and he realizes that the mistake will not be corrected: the authorities believe in their case and are determined to get a conviction. He may even watch the trial of the person wrongly accused of his crime. He is relieved when the verdict is guilty. He laughs when the police and prosecutors congratulate themselves. He is content to allow an innocent person to go to prison, to serve hard time, even to be executed.
Travis Boyette is such a man. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, he abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high-school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.
Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess.
But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Suzn F on 11-01-10
I confess, I loved it!
This book held my interest from the beginning. I find it interesting that Grisham gives us another book about an innocent man wrongly accused. In this novel, the reader comes to know and understand and feel for the main characters, and rightly despise the true murderer. The characters have depth and are driven by their convictions. The only criticism I have is that I wish Grisham would have given the mother of the victim more dimension, because she was presented so singularly, I found it difficult to feel as much sympathy as I wished to, for her and her family.
Otherwise, I was engaged and interested throughout this book. Very few authors can keep you feeling so "on the edge" for so much of the book, just waiting as each chapter goes by to see if the accused can avoid execution. The reader finds him or herself waiting for those in power to listen to and act positively on the appeals and motions. I didn't want to stop listening, I had to know what would happen.
The ending was wrapped up neatly, maybe a bit too quickly or tidily. Regardless, I liked this book.
58 of 63 people found this review helpful
By Pamela Harvey on 10-30-10
Not Your Mother's Grisham
It's good to see John Grisham exploring different aspects of law practice. I liked the fact that this story was not a "beginning, middle, and end" plot, with a giant chase scene at the end. The book is character-driven, not led by the plot, and I prefer that. I disagree with the reviewer who said the book takes forever to "get off the ground", as I was into it from the start.
I like Grisham's writing method of gently easing the reader into the story and the situation, rather than starting off running with a big conversation or event where you don't know any of the characters and their contexts. Grisham is excellent at providing context, and the reader never feels as though he/she doesn't really know a character or can't place that character. Grisham never gives any superlative qualities to any character, and none is considered more "special" than any other by virtue of looks, income, money, status.
I would like to see Grisham explore different geographical areas other than small towns in the South, but I think that's what he knows best and where he feels most comfortable getting into detail.
I don't think Grisham needed access to an execution in order to describe the scene. It would be easy enough to create the details and emotions (but then I am a creative) if your imagination is working 100%.
I also liked that the resolution to the story was not of a "perfect world" in which everyone gets a prize. The realistic descriptions of the issues surrounding capital punishment, and the pathos, anguish and gut-wrenching emotional contortions of the principal characters simply added to my interest, rather than detracting. I was never of a mind to comment to myself "oh please stay away from that, it's too painful".
I would caution the narrator not to read the female parts in a simulated falsetto. Just makes the women all sound like old "fuddy-duddies".
82 of 92 people found this review helpful