Powerful. Thoughtful. Breaks your heart, and makes you mad all at the same time. These are some of the immediate reactions to this crime-thriller novel. If you are an opponent of capital punishment, that is. If you are not, it ought to be even more powerful, thoughtful and heartbreaking. And it will make you kick yourself for all your self-righteousness.
Grisham’s position on the death-penalty laws is clear: he is a strong and loud opponent of it, and the story that is woven around this piece of law is one that is designed to make you sit up and wonder about all the many injustices that might have already taken place in so many states within the USA that support this law. Injustices because the wrong person is convicted and placed on Death Row, like Donte Drumm. The clinical precision by which this law is administered makes the hair rise behind your neck, and leave you wondering about how in God’s name you or any one else might ever be able to get another night’s sleep when you have so calmly taken the life of another human being. This ‘eye for an eye’ and ‘tooth for a tooth’ law is such a horrific one that there can never be a peace that may come out of it– to anyone, least of all the victim’s survivors.
You’re taken on a grand tour of the so-called justice system in the great state of Texas and its prison facilities, and you’re made to see how in the name of democracy and in the execution of a “fair” trial, a bogus confession of an innocent man is used to put him to death. It is impossible to read this book and not get thoroughly pissed at the Texas legal system.
But here’s the thing: even if the man was guilty as charged, I would not support the death-penalty. And I certainly would not live in any state that does. This is a much wider topic for discussion, of course, but I may as well take the opportunity to make this proclamation once and for all: I refuse to let a single dollar of my taxes go toward supporting one of the most heinous crimes of legalized murder routinely committed by a state-supported administration. Instead, I’d rather use that same dollar to support a criminal spend an entire life-time in prison, if necessary. That’s my personal opinion. And one that is shared by John Grisham.