In the Major League draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the state of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory.
Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and bad habits: drinking, drugs, and women. He began to show signs of mental illness. Unable to keep a job, he moved in with his mother and slept 20 hours a day on her sofa.
In 1982, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder.
With no physical evidence, the prosecution's case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Dennis Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Ron Williamson was sent to death row.
If you believe that in America you are innocent until proven guilty, this book will shock you. If you believe in the death penalty, this book will disturb you. If you believe the criminal justice system is fair, this book will infuriate you.
Listen to John Grisham's interview with Charlie Rose.
©2006 John Grisham; (P)2006 Random House Audio
I am stunned by the reviews that find this book uninteresting and/or poorly written. It was difficult to read because it is the story of our wonderful American justice system at its absolute worst. It is also the story of a couple of dozen Americans who allow their prejudices to prosecute and convict two men for murder with absolutely zero evidence. A man in Columbus was recently jailed for eighteen months and tried for the murder of his twin brother with the same 'evidence', none whatsoever. This can happen to anyone. If you aren't interested in this problem then you need to pray that you are never mistaken for a suspect and end up on death row.
I've read a few Grisham novels, but I'm not a diehard fan. This book is definitely a departure from his fiction. If you are expecting a "legal thriller" with unknown adversaries, legal twists and surprise endings, then this book isn't for you. Just stay away. If you want to read about a true miscarriage of justice, how it affected the individuals, and how it was finally resolved (too late in many respects), then you will enjoy this.
It's a dramatic case study of what can go wrong in our judicial system. Through each step of the process, it's obvious (in hindsight) where the police and Oklahoma legal processes go bad. Williamson continues to deteriorate over the years spent in a non-forgiving environment. There's no nice, happy ending wrap-up. This is real life, and the results are mixed at best. You won't enjoy it, and it should make even the most ardent death penalty supporters question the system.
I actually listened to half the book before I realized that it was non-fiction...While this might not be the thrill ride, surprise ending novel, I was thoroughly caught up in the book...To know that the injustice and travesty that can occur due to the malfeasance of lawyers, courtroom officials, and police is astounding...I thought this book was great and definitely would recommend...
Yes, this is not a typical Grisham book, but it's about time someone addressed the abuses of our judicial system. This was a travesty of justice, and it's not isolated. Mr. Grisham sent us a wake-up call about the fact that we all must hold our judicial system accountable when it is responsible for ruining lives. District Attorneys should be heavily prosecuted for maneuvering innocent people into plea-bargaining in order to save the "win" in court. It's disgraceful how this system is abused so often! Our system of justice is the best in the world, no doubt; but when there are people manipulating it to their own advantage, it turns ugly. That was the case with this young man, and unfortunately, with many others as well.
Count me in as one of the millions of worldwide fans of John Grisham. Like my fellow readers, I wait with great anticipation for his next book. I love his conversational writing. I can picture every scene as he describes them. He may be the best legal thriller writer of our day.
When I heard of "The Innocent Man", I was delighted. When I downloaded and listened, I was very, very disappointed. The book turns out to be a rehash of a previous book by another author and the subject of a PBS "Frontline' piece in 2002 about a wrongly convicted man..
The book is a narration of transcripts and court testimony from the trial. There is little to no dialog. There is no character development or interaction. There is no plot.
John's author notes at the end of the audio address some of these issues. The problem is that we should have been able to have read these notes before purchase.
"Frontline" told the story in one hour while Grisham chose to stretch it out over several hours. It is simply boring testimony.
But, fear not, I will still wait in anticipation for John's next book. I just hope he stays away from real crime and court testimony and goes back to his "paint a portrait" fiction.
This was not your typical Grisham novel. I listened to the entire thing before I realized that it was non-fiction. I suppose that should be a compliment. It was just too detailed for me. I may have ignored that had I realized that it was all true. I just kept thinking that no police force could be that stupid but I guess I was wrong. You can only imagine how shocked I was to find out that it all really happened. I guess that is why I give this 4 stars. I would give it 5, but I did not like the narrator. It could have been so much better with someone who has a more appealing voice.
Grisham relates the horrors of our legal system once again, but this time it is not from his imagination. His usual talent in telling a tale is present in this book but it does drag on. In addition to the tale of his two prime victims, other stories of wrongfully convicted men are told. I could see the revelance, but it tended to distract and confuse. The time lines also bounced around which further confused the story.
The narration was superb. There were great characterizations and dfferentiation of voices. I will look to listen to more by Mr. Wasson.
This is one of the best books I have ever read, it sure falls in the top 5. I was taken aback at the justice system and how hard it can be once your in it. I don't condone crimes but feel that everyone should be treated fairly. I also commend Mr Grisham on the thorough research, I found myself feeling strongly for the families in this book. This would be a great Christmas gift to an avid reader.
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