Book Beat book review by Jeff Hall Have you ever played the WHAT IF game?

A person at our dinner table recently asked if we had ever played the WHAT IF game. In other words how our lives would be changed if one thing in our life happened differently. I thought of three examples: WHAT IF I had not done so poorly in ninth grade? WHAT IF one of my sisters had not brought home a high school girl to match-make with my best friend? WHAT IF my other sister had not told me about the plans that God had for my life? Each one of these events greatly impacted my life, which possibly I will be able to tell you about in the future.

The WHAT IF game could also be applied to The Confession, a novel by John Grisham. Pastor Keith Schroederís normal Monday in 2007 in Kansas was quickly turned into an abnormal several days when Travis Boyette, a 44-year-old man who spent half of his life in prison, visited Keith because he needed to talk with someone. Travis said he had an inoperable brain tumor and probably had less than a year to live. He admitted that he raped and killed a high school senior named Nichole in Slone, Texas, in 1998 and Donte Drumm was convicted of the crime and was scheduled to be executed Thursday of that week.

WHAT IF a jealous admirer of Nichol hadnít called Detective Kerber to tell him that Donte was the killer? OR another young man hadnít lied about seeing Danteís car where Nichol was abducted from. OR Detective Kerber hadnít lied many times to Dante and wouldnít let him have access to an attorney and questioned him for 15 straight hours to get a written confession from him? OR Dante wasnít black? OR he didnít have an all white jury? OR a judge who decided to participate in leisure activities hadnít told his office to close exactly at 5 p.m. after being told a driver was on the way with evidence to clear Donte (the driver arrived seven minutes late)? OR the Governor of Texas, who could have delayed the execution, hadnít had a taped confession from Travis hidden from him by two cronies to protect the Governor?

The heroes in The Confession included Pastor Keith who risked legal action by driving Travis from Kansas to Texas so Travis could locate Nicholís body. If caught, Pastor Keith could possibly lose his pastorate. Secondly, lawyer Robbie Flak, although a renegade, who represented Donte at his initial trial, befriended him, fought until the last minute for him and cleared his name. And, thirdly, Donteís mother who spoke out on several occasions to stop other blacks from rioting in Slone.


The only part I was disappointed in was the way in which Travis was taken into custody. It seemed rather mundane.

It would be advantageous to read this book. It may change the way you think about the death penalty.

Book Beat book review is contributed by Jeff Hall, Honey Brook.