This book is a work of fiction, and as ever John Grisham is a superb story teller. He keeps the reader’s interest from day one with a series of twists and turns that at times surprise, and keep you turning the pages long after you should have put the book down and gone to do something else.
We join the story with the main character, Keith, who is a minister in a small town in Kansas. He has been enjoying his life and has been unaware of the death penalty and those on death row, not through lack of care but due to the lack of a connection with anyone who is there or who has family who are on the row. Then his life is turned upside down as a stranger comes to the church office to speak to him. The stranger suddenly confesses to a crime that happened in Texas some years before. He’s chosen that moment to confess as he has just heard the news that Donte Drumm, who has been on death row in Texas for the past nine years, is only four days from execution. The man, Travis Boyette, claimed that he killed the girl that Donte is convicted of killing, and he tells the minister that he wants to stop the execution from taking place.
Keith checks on the information Travis has given him: the crime, his previous criminal record and incarceration and his present status at a local hostel for those returning to society. He realises that a lot of what Travis says is true, although later he discovers that there are plenty of lies too.
Then starts a desperate race to stop the execution of an innocent man; Keith drives Travis through Kansas and down to Texas to do whatever they can to prevent a young man being killed by the state of Texas. I will not spoil the plot for you by telling you the outcome of their journey. Needless to say nothing is as it seems. There are errors within the book, as there will always be with any work of fiction, but this is a book that highlights the death penalty in America, the legal system, the humanity of those innocent and guilty, along with the pain that any family member of a victim or of a person on the row feels. Any book that raises awareness of the death penalty to a huge audience, who are enthralled by his books, has to be good.