A Murderer and A Priest
John Grisham's novel The Confession was translated into Japanese and one Japanese reader read it to post his opinion.
The reader was finally puzzled by the motivation of Travis for his confession to a priest in Kansas of his murder in Texas for which an innocent African American youth was to be executed as the tragic victim of false accusation.
In 1998, Travis Boyette abducted and raped Nicole "Nikki" Yarber, a teenage girl and high school student in Slone, Texas and buried her body in Joplin, Missouri some 6 hours from Slone. He watches unfazed as the police arrest and convict Donté Drumm, a black high school football player with no connection to the crime. Despite his innocence, Drumm is convicted and sentenced to death. He has been on death row for nine years when the story takes place. While Drumm serves his prison sentence, lawyer Robbert "Robbie" Flak fights his case while Black Americans protest his false conviction, creating a law and order situation.
Meanwhile, Boyette had fled to Kansas and had lived there ever since. He had been suffering with brain tumor for the past nine years and his health had deteriorated. In 2007, with Drumm's execution only a week away, reflecting on his miserable life, he decides to do what is right: confess.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Confession_(novel)
In the story, eventually Travis escaped the police after his confession of the murder in Texas and his help to find the dead body of the victimized girl. Then, he called the priest in Kansas who had helped save Donte, though in vain, telling that he was alright and his brain tumor was not fatal.
The Japanese reader could not find a clear motivation for Travis to reveal his hidden crime, since Travis was not actually dying. (Travis attacked another young woman, while being at large, to be arrested in the end of the story. So, he was not fatally ill.)
In my estimation, Travis wanted to have access to the pretty wife of the priest. As a strategy, he confessed his murder in Texas to the priest to have the priest get interested in him and get more chances to go to the church and see the wife of the priest. But, he could not succeed in penetrating into the church.
Meanwhile, the priest came to strongly feel a kind of responsibility for saving Donte. His zeal influenced Travis who thought that leaving the half-way house, against law, for Texas with the priest to save the African American youth might not be a bad idea, since if he had been fully released from the half-way house after expiration of his term, he would have had no special merit. And in Texas, he was also influenced by hot enthusiasm of the lawyer and his aids in trying to save Donte. Travis was overwhelmed and could not get away from them. So, he led them to the place where he had buried the dead body of the girl, though soon after it he ran away.
It was a desire of Travis to the pretty wife of the priest that first brought him to the church and made him confess his crime as a mean to have access to the couple.
The key to reality of this story is involvement of the priest and his faith. God looked like using the mean criminal Travis to reveal the truth of cruelty of death penalty and racial prejudice.
So, the Japanese reader may well not understand how a bad man can be sometimes influenced by strong faith and passion of a Christian priest or a true Christian priest, if he has the pretty wife, since most of Japanese have never been to church and never been acquainted with Christian priests.
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Luk 9:3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.