Paul Edgecombe is the "bull-goose screw" in charge of the Green Mile, Cold Mountain Penitentiary's death row. He and his fellow guards have learned to keep things calm on their cell block. They make it clear that misbehavior will not be tolerated, but within reason they grant the condemned prisoners' requests. Things run smoothly.
In the fall of 1932 some new personalities join the mix and things change. Percy Wetmore is a new guard who doesn't want things to run smoothly--he wants to bully and humiliate the prisoners. Eduard Delacroix is a newly condemned prisoner who just wants to teach tricks to Mr. Jingles, a mouse who has found its way into the cell block. "Wild Bill" Wharton is dangerous to anyone who comes near his cell because "he just doesn't care about anything." And John Coffey is a gentle giant, convicted of the brutal rape-murder of two young girls but as quiet and well-behaved a prisoner as the guards have ever seen. As events unfold, it becomes clear that John Coffey has some unusual abilities.
I was a fan of The Green Mile
movie, but for some reason put off reading the book. Reading it was a pleasant experience, indeed. First, the movie seems to follow the book closely--most of what I liked about it was in the book to begin with. The book also offered some additional enjoyment. It is structured as two parallel stories, one in 1932 in Cold Mountain Penitentiary and the other in a 1990's retirement home where Paul Edgecombe shares his story with a fellow resident. The interweaving of these two stories and the disclosure of information as they both proceed is skillfully done. In fact, King's foreshadowing in both stories adds to the telling, reliably pointing the way ahead while allowing the reader to guess correctly or incorrectly about what will occur. These aspects do not fully make the transition to the movie, good as it is.
I recommend this book highly for Stephen King fans and for readers who appreciate well-crafted writing.