The Green Mile - Stephen King
What attracted me to this book?
My recent discovery of this author and resonance with his style of writing inspired me to seek out another of his offerings. This one appealed once I had read the synopsis as the concept fascinated me and I felt a need to know what the outcome would be. When mentioning the title in conversation I had excitable responses from people who have seen the movie. My curiosity got the better of me and I am delighted that it did as King did not disappoint with this one.
Paul Edgecombe is the chief ‘screw’ on death row. Named The Green Mile by those who work in Cold Mountain penitentiary. Not a job that fills Paul with delight but one that he does to the best of his ability with compassion. Running a tight ship he faces a challenge when a young man with connections in high places joins the team - Percy Whetmore has a different approach to his role on The Green Mile and appears to gain satisfaction from causing suffering to all that he comes into contact with. Paul wants rid of him before something bad happens. New inmate - John Coffey - arrives in a calm and peaceful manner. A large coloured guy as big as a bear he could have easily caused chaos. Paul found himself feeling at ease with him and wondered why - he knew this man was different, something hypnotic about him intrigued him and he set about researching his case which involved two small twin girls deaths. The peaceful nature of this giant man did not match what Paul had become accustomed to seeing in men awaiting death on The Green Mile - or ‘dead man walking’ as newbie guard Percy revelled in shouting as he announced the arrival of John Coffey. There is doubt in Paul Edgecombes mind…..
Want to join me for a walk along the green mile?
Named The Green Mile because the flooring that the prisoners walk from outside their cells to the small room that houses Old Sparky (the electric chair) is lined with green linoleum. King describes the environment on death row with just enough information for the reader to get a good idea of how it may look and feel to be a warder and a prisoner on The Green Mile. All of my senses were aroused by his occasional input - I felt happy with the amount of description as I like to stick with the story and not be bogged down with too much detail.
The prose does not begin within Cold Mountain penitentiary, I am first introduced to the Detterick family and get my bearings with concise description of the surrounding rural area that the family reside. All of the Detterick characters will remain two dimensional, though I did get some insight into the traits and dynamics of the household. I also got a chilling realisation of what it may feel like to wake up and discover that your twin daughters were gone. Set in 1930’s America I witnessed the policing system which consisted of a wild west style set up of a main police guy and his deputy - the main guy slowing down and wanting a hassle free ride before retirement. King builds pace early on in the book as the search results in a tragic sight.