The Confession

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9781846057151: The Confession

An innocent man is days from execution. Only a guilty man can save him. Travis Boyette is a murderer. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, he abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high-school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched and waited as police and prosecutors arrested Donte Drumm, a local football star with no connection to the crime. Tried, convicted and sentenced, Drumm was sent to death row: his fate had been decided. Nine years later, Donte Drumm is four days from execution. Over 400 miles away in Kansas, Travis faces a fate of his own: an inoperable brain tumour will soon deliver the end. Reflecting on his miserable life, he decides to do what's right. After years of silence he is ready to confess. But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges and politicians that they're about to execute an innocent man?

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About the Author:

John Grisham is the author of twenty-two novels, one work of non-fiction, a collection of short stories, and a novel for young readers. He is on the Board of Directors for the Innocence Project in New York and is the Chairman on the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Innocence Project at the Mississippi School of Law. He lives in Virginia and Mississippi. His website is www.johngrisham.co.uk.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

The custodian at St. Mark’s had just scraped three inches of snow off the sidewalks when the man with the cane appeared. The sun was up, but the winds were howling; the temperature was stuck at the freezing mark. The man wore only a pair of thin dungarees, a summer shirt, well-worn hiking boots, and a light Windbreaker that stood little chance against the chill. But he did not appear to be uncomfortable, nor was he in a hurry. He was on foot, walking with a limp and a slight tilt to his left, the side aided by the cane. He shuffled along the sidewalk near the chapel and stopped at a side door with the word “Office” painted in dark red. He did not knock and the door was not locked. He stepped inside just as another gust of wind hit him in the back.

The room was a reception area with the cluttered, dusty look one would expect to find in an old church. In the center was a desk with a nameplate that announced the presence of Charlotte Junger, who sat not far behind her name. She said with a smile, “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” the man said. A pause. “It’s very cold out there.”

“It is indeed,” she said as she quickly sized him up. The obvious problem was that he had no coat and nothing on his hands or head.

“I assume you’re Ms. Junger,” he said, staring at her name.

“No, Ms. Junger is out today. The flu. I’m Dana Schroeder, the minister’s wife, just filling in. What can we do for you?”

There was one empty chair and the man looked hopefully at it. “May I?”

“Of course,” she said. He carefully sat down, as if all movements needed forethought.

“Is the minister in?” he asked as he looked at a large, closed door off to the left.

“Yes, but he’s in a meeting. What can we do for you?” She was petite, with a nice chest, tight sweater. He couldn’t see anything below the waist, under the desk. He had always preferred the smaller ones. Cute face, big blue eyes, high cheekbones, a wholesome pretty girl, the perfect little minister’s wife.

It had been so long since he’d touched a woman.

“I need to see Reverend Schroeder,” he said as he folded his hands together prayerfully. “I was in church yesterday, listened to his sermon, and, well, I need some guidance.”

“He’s very busy today,” she said with a smile. Really nice teeth.

“I’m in a rather urgent situation,” he said.

Dana had been married to Keith Schroeder long enough to know that no one had ever been sent away from his office, appointment or not. Besides, it was a frigid Monday morning and Keith wasn’t really that busy. A few phone calls, one consultation with a young couple in the process of retreating from a wedding, under way at that very moment, then the usual visits to the hospitals. She fussed around the desk, found the simple questionnaire she was looking for, and said, “Okay, I’ll take some basic information and we’ll see what can be done.” Her pen was ready.

“Thank you,” he said, bowing slightly.

“Name?”

“Travis Boyette.” He instinctively spelled his last name for her. “Date of birth, October 10, 1963. Place, Joplin, Missouri. Age, forty-four. Single, divorced, no children. No address. No place of employ­ment. No prospects.”

Dana absorbed this as her pen frantically searched for the proper blanks to be filled. His response created far more questions than her lit­tle form was designed to accommodate. “Okay, about the address,” she said, still writing. “Where are you staying these days?”

“These days I’m the property of the Kansas Department of Correc­tions. I’m assigned to a halfway house on Seventeenth Street, a few blocks from here. I’m in the process of being released, ‘re-entry,’ as they like to call it. A few months in the halfway house here in Topeka, then I’m a free man with nothing to look forward to but parole for the rest of my life.”

The pen stopped moving, but Dana stared at it anyway. Her interest in the inquiry had suddenly lost steam. She was hesitant to ask anything more. However, since she had started the interrogation, she felt com­pelled to press on. What else were they supposed to do while they waited on the minister?

“Would you like some coffee?” she asked, certain that the question was harmless.

There was a pause, much too long, as if he couldn’t decide. “Yes, thanks. Just black with a little sugar.”

Dana scurried from the room and went to find coffee. He watched her leave, watched everything about her, noticed the nice round back­side under the everyday slacks, the slender legs, the athletic shoulders, even the ponytail. Five feet three, maybe four, 110 pounds max.

She took her time, and when she returned Travis Boyette was right where she’d left him, still sitting monklike, the fingertips of his right hand gently tapping those of his left, his black wooden cane across his thighs, his eyes gazing forlornly at nothing on the far wall. His head was completely shaved, small, and perfectly round and shiny, and as she handed him the cup, she pondered the frivolous question of whether he’d gone bald at an early age or simply preferred the skinned look. There was a sinister tattoo creeping up the left side of his neck.

He took the coffee and thanked her for it. She resumed her position with the desk between them.

“Are you Lutheran?” she asked, again with the pen.

“I doubt it. I’m nothing really. Never saw the need for church.”

“But you were here yesterday. Why?”

Boyette held the cup with both hands at his chin, like a mouse nib­bling on a morsel. If a simple question about coffee took a full ten sec­onds, then one about church attendance might require an hour. He sipped, licked his lips. “How long do you think it’ll be before I can see the reverend?” he finally asked.

Not soon enough, Dana thought, anxious now to pass this one along to her husband. She glanced at a clock on the wall and said, “Any minute now.”

“Would it be possible just to sit here in silence as we wait?” he asked, with complete politeness.

Dana absorbed the stiff-arm and quickly decided that silence wasn’t a bad idea. Then her curiosity returned. “Sure, but one last question.” She was looking at the questionnaire as if it required one last question. “How long were you in prison?” she asked.

“Half my life,” Boyette said with no hesitation, as if he fielded that one five times a day.

Dana scribbled something, and then the desktop keyboard caught her attention. She pecked away with a flourish as if suddenly facing a deadline. Her e-mail to Keith read: “There’s a convicted felon out here who says he must see you. Not leaving until. Seems nice enough. Hav­ing coffee. Let’s wrap things up back there.”

Five minutes later the pastor’s door opened and a young woman escaped through it. She was wiping her eyes. She was followed by her ex-fiancé, who managed both a frown and a smile at the same time. Neither spoke to Dana. Neither noticed Travis Boyette. They disap­peared.

When the door slammed shut, Dana said to Boyette, “Just a minute.” She hustled into her husband’s office for a quick briefing.

———

The Reverend Keith Schroeder was thirty-five years old, happily married to Dana for ten years now, the father of three boys, all born separately within the span of twenty months. He’d been the senior pas­tor at St. Mark’s for two years; before that, at a church in Kansas City. His father was a retired Lutheran minister, and Keith had never dreamed of being anything else. He was raised in a small town near St. Louis, educated in schools not far from there, and, except for a class trip to New York and a honeymoon in Florida, had never left the Midwest. He was generally admired by his congregation, though there had been issues. The biggest row occurred when he opened up the church’s base­ment to shelter some homeless folks during a blizzard the previous win­ter. After the snow melted, some of the homeless were reluctant to leave. The city issued a citation for unauthorized use, and there was a slightly embarrassing story in the newspaper.

The topic of his sermon the day before had been forgiveness—God’s infinite and overwhelming power to forgive our sins, regardless of how heinous they might be. Travis Boyette’s sins were atrocious, unbe­lievable, horrific. His crimes against humanity would surely condemn him to eternal suffering and death. At this point in his miserable life, Travis was convinced he could never be forgiven. But he was curious.

“We’ve had several men from the halfway house,” Keith was saying. “I’ve even held services there.” They were in a corner of his office, away from the desk, two new friends having a chat in saggy canvas chairs. Nearby, fake logs burned in a fake fireplace.

“Not a bad place,” Boyette said. “Sure beats prison.” He was a frail man, with the pale skin of one confined to unlit places. His bony knees were touching, and the black cane rested across them.

“And where was prison?” Keith held a mug of steaming tea.

“Here and there. Last six years at Lansing.”
 
“And you were...

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Descripción Century, 2010. Gebundene Ausgabe. Estado de conservación: Neu. Neu Neuware, Importqualität, auf Lager, , Sofortversand - When Travis Boyette a convicted felon walks into a church in small-town Missouri he carries with him a terrible secret. Nearly a decade earlier Nicole Yarber a high school senior with her whole life ahead of her vanished. For two weeks her home town stood still as thousands of volunteers combed the alleys and fields and ditches and abandoned buildings. But the search was futile. Nicole's body was never found. Now Donte Drumm the young black athlete arrested for Nicole's murder sits on death row. His execution date is set for less than a week's time - and Robbie Flak the lawyer who's been fighting to prove Donte's innocence for nine years has spent every penny he ever had trying to get justice for his client. But now he's out of options - unless Travis Boyette's confession can put things right in time. The clock is ticking . 432 pp. Englisch. Nº de ref. de la librería INF1000235784

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John Grisham
Editorial: Century (2010)
ISBN 10: 1846057159 ISBN 13: 9781846057151
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Descripción Century, 2010. Gebundene Ausgabe. Estado de conservación: Neu. Neu Neuware, Importqualität, auf Lager, , Sofortversand - When Travis Boyette a convicted felon walks into a church in small-town Missouri he carries with him a terrible secret. Nearly a decade earlier Nicole Yarber a high school senior with her whole life ahead of her vanished. For two weeks her home town stood still as thousands of volunteers combed the alleys and fields and ditches and abandoned buildings. But the search was futile. Nicole's body was never found. Now Donte Drumm the young black athlete arrested for Nicole's murder sits on death row. His execution date is set for less than a week's time - and Robbie Flak the lawyer who's been fighting to prove Donte's innocence for nine years has spent every penny he ever had trying to get justice for his client. But now he's out of options - unless Travis Boyette's confession can put things right in time. The clock is ticking . 432 pp. Englisch. Nº de ref. de la librería INF1000235784

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