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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Confession

Domenic Stansberry

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To purchase The Confession

Title: The Confession
Author: Domenic Stansberry
Genre: Novel
Written: 2004
Length: 218 pages
Availability: The Confession - US
The Confession - UK
The Confession - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B+ : nicely dark and ambiguous pulp story

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Stranger . 3/3/2005 Neal Pollack

  From the Reviews:
  • "Much of the story reads like boilerplate; as in many books like this, characters are offhandedly introduced in one chapter and then become a major point 100 pages later, long after we've forgotten about them. But the book makes up for its clunky police procedural with a full catalog of pulp's strengths." - Neal Pollack, The Stranger

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The confession of the title is Jake Danser's: he's the narrator and the central character, and what he offers here is his account of events - not much of a confession at all, on the surface. But while he doesn't really admit to much wrong-doing beyond some adultery and not being entirely truthful to the police (or his lawyer) he does seem to have something he wants to get off his chest. Ambiguity -- did he or didn't he ? -- in this sort of sordid crime fiction is hard to pull off well, but Stansberry does an excellent job, keeping the reader guessing without it being annoying.
       Danser is a forensic psychologist, called upon to assess criminal minds (and to testify about his findings in court). The murder case he's involved in at the beginning of the book isn't one where he can be much help: the defendant isn't a very convincing psychopath, and a different approach to trying to get him off might be more appropriate -- such as the fact that there have been quite a few similar murders over the years. Interestingly, Danser knew the victim. And he knows there might be a serial-killer type pattern to point to because he had apparently been in the locales where these other murders occurred .....
       Danser plays coy with the reader: "I know there are people, familiar with my case, who will say I am not telling the whole story here" he repeatedly acknowledges, and he doesn't let his audience forget that he's a psychologist, and of all the games people play. But he seems to be forthcoming, revealing a good deal, admitting he's made some mistakes, but that he wound up as the victim here .....
       Married for the second time, he's also fooling around on the side, with attorney Sara Johnson. And Sara gets herself killed, and all the evidence points to Danser. But the evidence isn't entirely clear: Danser lies to the police about going to her apartment that night (saying he hadn't, when he had), but even without discovering proof to the contrary the case is a bit weak. In fact, many of the facts suggest that Danser was being framed by a prosecutor who conveniently happens to be carrying on an affair with Danser's wife.
       Stansberry spins the story out well. Danser isn't a very nice guy, but he plays the game of presenting his side of the story well: he knows he can't count on too much sympathy, but there's enough guile and charm in the presentation to if not entirely seduce the reader at least make it believable that Danser might be the innocent victim here (if not exactly everywhere else -- he does admit responsibility for one very nasty deed, but it's an almost excusable act, the only one who suffers being a truly nasty piece of work)
       The Confession is a very solid pulp-thriller, nicely sordid and dark, and impressively (yet not annoyingly) ambiguous. Danser teases suggestively, and the different scenarios -- him as victim or as psychopath -- each seem at different times entirely convincing.
       A good, breezy read, with a nicely creepy conclusion: The Confession is contemporary pulp fiction the way it should be.

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The Confession: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Domenic Stansberry's work has been nominated for several Edgar Awards.

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© 2005-2008 the complete review

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