They will see it is all a mistake, and they will unlock the gates, and I will go out again into the world, with still time to make Mama proud. And some sweet young thing still growing up for me. And all possibilities.
I know that is the truth.
At 21, Walter Briggs knows when he will die but not how: the State of Utah has asked him to choose the method of his execution—firing squad or the gallows—and the young black who sits on Death Row cannot make up his mind. This harrowing account of Walter's life and the crime for which he has been sentenced to death is paced by the relentless ticking of the hours toward his final day; it is told by an extraordinary collection of narrators.
Don't worry, Mama, he said, the courts will find the truth. That was two years ago he said that. He believed it, too. And now they is gonna kill him, and they still ain't found the truth.
—Josephine Briggs, Walter's mother
Those most closely involved in determining Walter's fate—arresting officers, witnesses, presiding judge, and attorneys—are joined by the voices of lovers, family, and friends. Each has a separate story:
I was the guilty one... —Belinda Montgomery, Walter's lawyer
Each imprints his personal perspective upon "the facts":
You can't run a system of justice haphazardly. The rules don't permit it... And the rules must be enforced or we will all drown together.
—Judge Simon W. Merton
And as their narrative chorus rises toward climax, only the reader has chilling, incontrovertible proof that the real crime of Walter Briggs has yet to be committed, as the minutes tick toward dawn and the executioners assemble:
It sounds sort of silly, I know, but what do you wear to something like that? A suit and tie?
—Wade Pardington, member of the firing-squad
Author Robert Mayer has created a spellbinding tale of resounding readability which provides the most powerful, indictment capital punishment arid the "court system ever to appear in fictional form. The Execution explores the delicate, all too individualistic threads that weave the web. of American justice; with frightening precision, Mayer, traps the reader within that web, squarely upon Death Row.
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