... a powerful, thought-provoking debut thriller that’s not to be missed ... Dow’s work with incarcerated individuals, and the experiences he must have gained from meeting those who’ve done real, hard time while actually innocent, is evident as he masterfully captures the tortured voice of a man whose freedom was ripped away by a failed system that hung him out to dry. Taking readers inside Rafael mindset, Dow projects his anguish and pain, prompting an emotional response from readers who, with every page, will find themselves holding their breath as he sets out to right wrongs in his own way, cheering him on as he goes ... The characters are well-developed, the pacing is fast, and the story is absolutely stunning. Confessions of an Innocent Man is a red-hot debut that falls somewhere between a work of psychological suspense and a legal thriller, and should attract fans of both.
Mr. Dow writes with authority about life on death row, where other inmates believe in Rafael’s innocence and offer emotional support ... Mr. Dow, a born writer if ever there was one, takes us where his narrator thinks he must go.
While the main character’s actions are sometimes a little far-fetched, the questions of who gets justice and why court procedure seems to take such precedence over indivdual lives will stay with readers after the satisfying ending to this surprising read. An apt suggestion for further reading is Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy (2014), a nonfiction exposé of the same kinds of wrongs.
Why should someone on death row be given a second chance? The answer is found within these pages. Sometimes the inmate truly is innocent and the real perpetrator is found. The book raises many questions about the who, what, when and where of the crimes that have been committed and how fastidious the investigation was. Dow is clearly in the corner of the death row convict, and as the narrative unfolds, readers are challenged to think about whether or not the death penalty should be repealed ... Confessions of an Innocent Man is very realistic, and readers will find themselves questioning if death row can be made better in any way...
... an impressive fiction debut ... The plot is a page-turner, and the addition of Dow’s knowledge of the legal machinery of death and his nuanced characterization of his lead elevate this above similarly themed legal thrillers.
The claustrophobic nature of prisons, the routine cruelty, the anonymous suffering, the decrepit conditions—they all come through in straightforward, well-written prose ... Dow knows his stuff. Authenticity is this novel’s strongest element, but the message can sometimes drown out the drama. Narrated by Zhettah in a quick, direct style, the novel feels like two books in one ... In this novel, justice is not just blind, it’s hamstrung, but the reader knows from the start that the scales will be balanced by the end ... A solidly suspenseful novel by an anti–death penalty activist that—despite some surprising detours—reads like a novel by an anti–death penalty activist.