Reviewers should keep their own political views on the back burner when they review books. Bashing a book when you disagree, or lavishing it when you agree misses the point. I read these reviews mostly to find out one thing: is this a good book, or not?
The Confession is a legal thriller by an accomplished writer, one who became famous by writing legal thrillers. I loved Grisham's early books, reading each one eagerly, glued to the pages, and disappointed when I finished, realizing that I had to wait a long time for the next one. Somewhere along the way Grisham lost his mojo, and, unfortunately, he hasn't fully regained it. Maybe I am not the same reader that I was when I read The Firm in 1991. Try as I might, I couldn't get excited about this one.
This story was written as a political statement. Fiction that serves to prove a point requires a skillful narrator, or it risks becoming tedious. There are some great writers who wrote great novels as a form of political expression, like Dickens, Warren and Ellison. Grisham is not in their league. Grisham's talents as a writer are good enough to bring this readable novel to fruition, but it has some problems: The plot is not believable enough for my liking, and characters on one side of the issue are created as likeable, basically good people, while those on the opposite side are completely bad. The story lacks realism.
Donte , who is at the center of the novel, is a sympathetic figure, but he remains a figure, not a person whom the reader really knows. Keith , the well intentioned pastor who brings the killer to Texas, may be the best described personality, but he is bland and boring. The story builds suspense in the second half, and I willingly read to the end, although I was pretty sure where it was going. This was just a fair novel, with the story in the back seat, and the message driving. I prefer the opposite.