Rennell, along with his older brother, Payton, was found guilty of the heinous crime, and the conviction has been upheld through one appeal after another. But as Terri spends time with Rennell and re-creates the events that put him on death row, she starts to understand the forces that shaped Rennell and the reason he has never been able to defend himself adequately.
As Terri prepares for a last appeal, she gets a new weapon for her battle: fresh evidence suggesting that another man, not Rennell, helped Payton commit the atrocity. But the grim machinery of capital punishment is already in motion. As more people are drawn into Terri's last-ditch battle, this much is clear: the serious doubts about Rennell's guilt may not be enough to save him.
Conviction raises issues of ethics, political expediency, and personal trauma that will shake readers to their core. Patterson illuminates the mysterious precincts between justice and truth, where the fate of one man involves not only his own life and the lives he has affected but the moral life of a nation.
©2005 Richard North Patterson; (P)2005 Random House, Inc.
"As with his previous novels, Patterson examines a complex issue through the lens of a compelling, gripping story. Readers familiar with his characters and those looking for a powerful courtroom drama will not be disappointed." (Booklist)
Richard North Patterson, who has transcended the legal-thriller genre a few books ago has created a novel which explains how the appeals process in death penalty cases has become a stylized dance of arbitrary rules where political expediency trumps justice, fairness and truth. In telling the story of a last minute appeal of a retarded, and probably innocent man facing execution we are taken step by step through a grinding, mindnumbing and depressing process which exposes, in explicit terms, some very troubling truths about the death penalty today.
Patterson, in using a fictional case, has made a baroque and irrational system accessible to those open to be challenged on their assumptions about "activist courts" "coddled criminals" and other cleverly framed phrases which cloud the truth about a justice system which metes out the ultimate punishment without much concern for guilt or innocence.
This is not a fun book. However, it is an important book for those who truly want to understand an important issue, and how it defines us as a people. And Patterson does provide an excellent road map, for those with the courage and character, to proceed down that road.
This book started well, but quickly became mired in an overly extended journey through the justice system, which was interesting to start, but quickly became monotonous and added very little to the book. To my mind, the story could have been told in half the time / pages. I many times debated just not finishing it.
I've enjoyed Patterson's other books, but this was just one, long, dull lecture about the process involved in a death row appeal. It's unrelentingly grim-- unbelievably so. Everyone who isn't the lawyer and her friends is a cheat, a junkie, a murderer, and/or a child molester. I'm no death penalty advocate, but boy, by the end of this book, I was thinking the human race was doomed to evil forever, so how bad could the death penalty be? I mean, really, the characters were almost uniformly nasty.
The main character was sort of boring. She and her colleagues were given to long involved lectures about procedure and precedent. They never sounded realistic to me. And they all seemed to exist just to prove some point about the death penalty-- that most of the people sentenced to death are poor and mentally unstable. That most attorneys are incompetent. Etc.
This book shows the danger of centering a novel around an idea instead of a plot and characters. It's "worthy", but dull.
Not only is it long and dull and disgusting--I agree with what other reviewers said--it is also racist! This book portrays poor people, especially black poor, as if they are animals and savages. I couldn't even finish and I usually listen to everything. I've enjoyed other books by this author in the past but this book has turned me off to even thinking about reading his future works.
I have enjoyed many of Patterson's novels but this one lacked plot. It was more of the author's view on capital punishment and less of a mystery. I happen to agree with his views but the story dragged. If you must listen to it, go for the abridged version. I stopped listening 3/4 of the way through and found another book with more interest. I rarely do that.
One would think a book with good character development and a timely topic would translate into a great read. And so it might be with Conviction, were it not for the fact that I was expecting a mystery novel and instead got a thinly veiled polemic against the death penalty.
This book plods along for far too long exploring each vagary of the lengthy appeals process in death penalty cases. It would have been better if it were shorter by half and, more importantly, if it had some exciting action (although some might suggest that the ending IS exciting--I just happen not to be among them). Clearly this is NOT one of Patterson's best books.
A good book on an important issue. It tends to bog down in the middle as it gets somewhat repetitve. If you can get through that, the speed and drama increase rapidly toward the end.
A good read / couldn't put it down. Thought provoking in the handeling of the issues on many levels, law, personal etc. Not a disappointment at all. Should be the beginning of talking about how we as a nation need to revisit the issue.
I had prepared a lengthy critique of this lengthy, preachy novel. Then I saw that Alicia from neighboring Indianapolis said it perfectly. If there was ever a book that I wish I had read an abridged edition of, it's this one. To say that it is preachy, didactic, propagandized, and about twice as long as it should be is to give it more importance than it deserves! I found it arrogant that the characters constantly used phrases like "freestanding innocence," which I still don't know the meaning of; and a parcel of acronyms, which I couldn't keep straight. Perhaps if the "book" were in front of me, I could keep checking back; but this doesn't work on my Otis. I'd have spent several hours jumping back and forth. Like yet another reviewer, I'd have been happy to have skipped the entire mid-section. But then I hated the ending so much that maybe I should have just read Part I, and let it go at that. I have tried to read two regular books by this author, and never got far. Now I remember why. Ah, well, I certainly had it reinforced that the liberals are all good guys and the conservatives...well...the meanies! A tiresome cliche.
I usually love this author's books and decided to ignore the poor reviews by other readers. I often found myself daydreaming and missed numerous sections of the book but did not go back to listen to them. If you read or listen to this book, do yourself a favor and only get the abridged version!
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