This is not a “sit back in your recliner and relax” kind of book. Grisham’s opposition to the death penalty is evident in his previous work, but in this one he brings the gavel down and spares the reader no detail. There is suspense and very edgy moments in this no-holds-barred opinion piece. The novel begins when Keith Schroder, a mild-mannered Lutheran pastor in Topeka, Kansas is visited for counsel by Travis Boyette, who has a history of multiple felony convictions that only scratches the surface of his evil. Travis tells the pastor that an execution scheduled within a few days in Texas will kill the wrong man, and that he, Travis Boyette, is the real murderer. A heroic effort is made by Keith to get the situation straightened out before it’s too late. To add to the complication and drama – the murder, now nine years in the past, involved the death of a popular white teenage cheerleader. The man on death row is black. Texas politicians come off as Neanderthals in Grisham’s portrayal, and even the most die-hard death penalty advocate may have trouble defending the practice after reading this hard-hitting diatribe. This is a good story with a mission for readers who are either sympathetic, or willing to be open-minded to Grisham’s cause.
May 11, 2011