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This book combines mystery, historical fact, and moral message into a well written and exciting work. Although at times overly detailed, I felt the book was compelling and well-written. It was one of those book you do not want to put down and despite its length I remained interested throughout.
A relatively good story idea, horribly brutalized by too much unnecessary detail and imagery. It's not that it's long, it's that it's so long you find yourself reading over the same pages trying desperately to comprehend. Though it is absorbing at some sections for the majority it is a dull read. A must for insomniacs.
Having read this book three times, I feel I have a certain standing in making this contribution. The idea for the story is intriguing (which is why I bought it, along with the fact that it had won a PEN/Faulkner Award), however, the execution was poorly done, and monotonous. Descriptions were not inspiring, and instead of enhancing the book, made it cumbersome and unappealing. Just to demonstrate how very dull I found this book: I came to the second last page, put it down and didn't think about it for a week. Needs a fair degree of willpower and it is derogatory to John Grisham to have this book compared with his novels (though they are markedly different styles of legal 'thrillers').
This book starts out very slow but picks up. Once you realize the flashbacks are relivant to the story it becomes more interesting. If you start to read it and decide to put it down, wait until you are at Chapter 10 or 11. I promise the story does pick up. I turned out to be a pretty good book.