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Friday, January 04, 2013

Grisham's The Confession

Goodreads | Eric_W Welch (Forreston, IL)'s review of The Confession:

The problem with reading clubs is that occasionally someone suggests a dud and one feels forced to finish the book out of courtesy to the other participants.  That's what happened here.

I abhor the death penalty.  I approve of Grisham's message 100%, but my goodness this book is repetitive and tedious. Not to mention I felt bruised and battered by being hit over the head constantly by the message.  I listened to it and found the FF button to be incredibly useful.  The irony was I could fast forward 15 minutes and think I hadn't moved forward at all. The characters are stereotypical cardboard cutouts. Their speeches (they don't talk, they proclaim,) are all cookie-cutter, but the dough gets stale quickly.  The book would have been much stronger had there been some shades of gray, some ethical tensions. There just are none here.

For example, did the prosecutors and cops set out to kill an innocent man?  Of course, not.  They were subject to cultural, racial, and political pressures.  An examination of the force of those pressures would have made a much more interesting book. And what if there had been no confession? How about an examination of the legal hurdles that prevent uncovering police malfeasance? Or an examination of the Supreme Court's reasoning that innocence is not a defense?  (See Connick v Thomson.) To quote Reason Magazine: "Scalia has written in the past that there's nothing in the Constitution to prevent the government from executing an innocent person. He also apparently believes there's no duty for the government to preserve or turn over evidence that would prove a person's innocence. Finally, from Connick we learn he also believes that prosecutors and municipalities shouldn't be held liable to people who are wrongly convicted and imprisoned, either, even if prosecutors knowingly concealed the evidence that would have exonerated them."  Now *that* would have made a fascinating book.

I don't like giving negative ratings and usually don't review books I didn't like, but in this case I resent the time spent listening to this; it was like trying to move through quicksand.  Be interesting to see what the rest of the group thinks, especially since they are a particularly high-minded literary group.

Do you suppose the moderator got it wrong and it should have been Augustine's Confessions?

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