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Travis Boyette is a serial woman molester, rapist, and probably worse. He pitches up in a quiet Kansas town and confesses to the young local minister that he murdered Nicole Yarber. The reason he does so is because a young black man, Donte Drum, who has been festering on death row for years, convicted of the crime, is about to be executed. It has been playing on Travis's diseased mind, he has a tumour, and is not expected to live for much longer. The execution is scheduled for a couple of days away. Time is slipping through that glass at a rate of knots for the desperate Donte Drumm. Against the advice of his friends and his pretty wife Dana, a young woman who Travis has noticed and noted, and one he is soon fantasising over, Keith throws a few things in the car, bundles Travis in beside him, and sets off on the long road journey to Texas, the scene of the impending horrific event. So opens John Grisham's latest book The Confession. I have seen it described as a return to form for the law inspired writer. Personally I don't think he has ever been off form. As I have written before, some folks seem to think that Grisham-bashing is fun. Never quite understood that, but there we are. Of course, anyone who writes a lot of books will write some better than others, it doesn't mean to say the lesser ones are any less interesting. The Confession is a powerful work that hooks the reader and keeps them interested right through till the end. It struck me in places as not a work of fiction at all, reminding me of his one factual work, The Innocent Man, indeed that phrase crops up in this book several times. Perhaps inevitably the work turns into an anti-death penalty campaign, real or imaginary, and maybe that is no bad thing. Almost every year Texas tops the list of executions in the United States, seventeen in 2010, and how many of those people have been innocent? God knows. Pardon me for commenting from thousands of miles away but the policy doesn't appear to be working, does it? Don't Mess With Texas, say the signs. Who'd want to? Who'd want to go anywhere near the place?

Certainly not Keith the minister, who couldn't leave quickly enough, vowed never to return, unless something really weird turned up. The Confession is a powerful piece of fiction, and one that will remain with you for some time afterwards, and I have a confession to make too. I found some of it mighty difficult to read. Doesn't mean you shouldn't read it though, because I think you should, and may be that is precisely what Mister Grisham was after.

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