Confessions of an Innocent Man

A Novel
Narrated by: Henry Levya
Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (193 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Every person wrongfully convicted of a crime at some point dreams of getting revenge against the system. In Confessions of an Innocent Man, the dream comes true and in a spectacular way.” (John Grisham, New York Times best-selling author of The Reckoning)

A thrillingly suspenseful debut novel and a fierce howl of rage that questions the true meaning of justice.

Rafael Zhettah relishes the simplicity and freedom of his life. He is the owner and head chef of a promising Houston restaurant, a pilot with open access to the boundless Texas horizon, and a bachelor, content with having few personal or material attachments that ground him. Then, lightning strikes. When he finds Tieresse - billionaire, philanthropist, sophisticate, bombshell - sitting at one of his tables, he also finds his soul mate, and his life starts again. And just as fast, when she is brutally murdered in their home, when he is convicted of the crime, when he is sentenced to die, it is all ripped away. But for Rafael Zhettah, death row is not the end. It is only the beginning. Now, with his recaptured freedom, he will stop at nothing to deliver justice to those who stole everything from him. 

This is a heart-stoppingly suspenseful, devastating, pause-resisting debut novel. A thriller with a relentless grip that wants you to listen to it in one sitting. David R. Dow has dedicated his life to the fight against capital punishment - to righting the horrific injustices of the death-penalty regime in Texas. He delivers the perfect modern parable for exploring our complex, uneasy relationships with punishment and reparation in a terribly unjust world.

©2019 David R. Dow (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Suppose you were arrested, tried, and sentenced to die for a murder you didn’t commit, then vindicated and freed at the last possible minute. What would you do? Would you try to go back to the old life you’d nearly lost? Or would you punish those who’d stolen it from you? In Confessions of an Innocent Man, David R. Dow, who knows more about death row than any other person who’s never lived there, puts you in the place of a victim of the system whose soul has been shriveled by rage, then invites you to take a look in the mirror. The result is a terrifying modern-day revenger’s tale, one whose furious, irresistible momentum will sweep you up - and make you think.” (Terry Teachout, drama critic, The Wall Street Journal

“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.” (Publishers Weekly

“A debut novel that's a page-turner with a message...[Dow’s] criminal justice work is a clear influence on this novel, and his passion bleeds through on every page. The claustrophobic nature of prisons, the routine cruelty, the anonymous suffering, the decrepit conditions - they all come through in straightforward, well-written prose.... A solidly suspenseful novel.” (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about Confessions of an Innocent Man

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    3 out of 5 stars

An unusual combination of great and preposterous.

I have not felt so mixed about a book in a long time, if ever. The first two thirds of this book are amazing, as some readers say. The narration is wonderful. The plot is full of interesting developments, and it makes you think. The author's knowledge of death row is encyclopedic. The protagonist is a man who is truly innocent and is a victim of the kind of judicial errors that make the death penalty a horrible error. It is as many know absolutely riddled with human error and prejudice that can never be overcome. It is barbaric. Politics aside, most people who know it thoroughly know that it represents the worst of our government and society. Travel outside of this country and talk to citizens of other societies. They look at us as barbarians. Sadly, the last third of the book is preachy, preposterous and boring. The idea that this man could create a private prison in a missile silo is ludicrous. Even with almost infinite resources of time and money, it just strains credulity. I certainly understand the primitive need for revenge, the need to get even. However, the author could have found a more believable place for his novel to go. I gave up with about two hours left.

6 people found this helpful

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I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!

This is an incredible fiction debut by author David Dow. Once I started listening to this book I was glued! This is the story of Rafael Zhettah. He was born in Mexico, extremely supportive parents who made sure he went to the United States to attend college. After opening his own upscale restaurant he met the woman he married soon after. He was 37 and she was 51. Less than two years later she was murdered , he was convicted and sentenced to death. Almost to the zero hour the real killer was found. Rafael doesn't blame anyone but the two state supreme court judges who blocked his appeals at every turn even when there was evidence that could have exonerated him. His retribution does require some suspense of belief but PLEASE don't let this take away from the story. The end actually got me choked up and that is a rarity. However, this book addresses so many issues of our legal system especially those in Texas where this author practiced law. Henry Levya's performance is outstanding. This book has my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. If you found this review helpful please indicate so. Thank You.

27 people found this helpful

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Best novel I've listened to this year!

I purchased CONFESSIONS OF AN INNOCENT MAN after reading a review of it written Audible Listener Shelley (Raleigh, NC) in April. It is yet another of many examples of her reviews leading me to great listens. The publisher's summary sets the novel up perfectly, so I will not add to it except to say it is a legal thriller. This is my first exposure to the work of narrator Henry Levya. He does an outstanding job.

13 people found this helpful

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Confessions of an innocent listener......

TRUE CONFESSION: This book was engrossing and compelling with superb narration. However, the last portion of the book completely fell short and that is why this book did not earn a 5-star review from me. Did the author lose steam??? Not quite sure. The beginning of the book was outstanding. I was disappointed with the last 2 hours of the book because the storyline became unrealistic and the ending was very abrupt. Since I don't want to reveal any spoilers, I am omitting the facts needed to support my opinion. Overall, I did enjoy the book and do recommend the title.

2 people found this helpful

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Death row

I'm gonna confess, when I saw the author's bio that indicated his career as a death row appeals attorney, it gave me pause. When I'm reading fiction, I do NOT want to preaching ( John Grisham, take note). So initially, I had some reservations about this book....but I like a good legal thriller, and this is one, with great characters and a page-turning pace. I liked this quite a lot. There were some inconsistencies, and the goal third may stretch credibility, but, admittedly, I'm a sucker for a heartbreaking ending. Yes, I'd recommend this. The narrator was good.

5 people found this helpful

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Sensitive, engrossing and well crafted! Six stars!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the reader was “at one” with the story! Could not fault it on any level!! Fully recommend it!!

1 person found this helpful

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Thought provoking

How true that we are multilayered. Every one of us. In this time of seeing people in extremes, this gripping story poses important questions without being obvious. I will listen again. Quite good narration.

1 person found this helpful

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Awesome narrator

This is a well written story that slowly unfolds. The narration is excellent. If you want to learn more about the thoughts of a person on death row, you'll have a front row seat.

1 person found this helpful

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An unexpected very satisfying book

I too paused before buying this book as I had assumed that I was going to be in for a 9 hour lecture on why capital punishment is a bad idea. Not only was this not the case, but I was treated to an excellent well researched story. Sure, it will get you thinking about your own notions of capital punishment, but you will be entertained with a provocative story that was pleasantly narrated. Go ahead, get that credit that's jangling in your pocket.

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I don’t get the good reviews

It starts off okay - But it got really boring. I don’t understand how kidnapping the Judges was the way to go. Going after prosecutors who hid evidence might seem more normal. And the text message set up seemed stupid and impossible. The whole book was just lady da blasé blasé... Moving on to a who cares ending.

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  • Helen
  • 04-16-19

Incredible

Very rarely have I felt so touched by a book that I have taken the time to submit a review. I have over 500 books in my library, most of which are legal thrillers and hence trying to find a new book in the same genre has become increasingly more challenging! No doubt I am like many other listener's who rely upon the number of reviews and 'star count' when choosing a book and hate the thought of wasting a credit. But sometimes taking that leap of faith works and this is certainly one of those occasions!!! The book is unique, thought provoking and will not be one you will regret risking a credit on. My only regret is that it finished.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chris H
  • 04-16-20

This is one of my favourite books of all time

Books written in the first person are not to everyone's taste - I get that. I have for nearly 30 years put 'American Psycho' by Bret Easton Ellis right near the top of my top reads. That was written in the first person also. I am not sure whether Professor Dow will appreciate the comparison - I hope so. It's meant as a positive. The detail of explanation given is, in places, is American Psycho-esque. As many reviewers will point out, the author is a Death Penalty lawyer and has given TED talks on the Death Penalty and written extensively on the subject. If the good people at Audible are reading this - please get the rest of his books. His knowledge of the system is evident. And fundamental to the story. ***Spoilers.*** So what is the story about? A love story? Yes. A courtroom drama? No, not particularly. The diary of a man on Death Row? Yes, also. And how it affects him. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read/listen. Henry Levya - the narrator - is perfect and nuances the main character exquisitely. I couldn't help but care for the character from very early on. My only criticism, a selfish one, is that at a little over 9 hours, it's a story of which I wanted more. Many congratulations to Professor Dow, Mr Levya and all concerned. A stunning debut novel.

1 person found this helpful