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The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a…
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The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town (2006)

by John Grisham

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,864105950 (3.48)91
  1. 10
    Manifest Injustice: The True Story of a Convicted Murderer and the Lawyers Who Fought for His Freedom by Barry Siegel (TooBusyReading)
    TooBusyReading: Stories of justice gone awry, more interesting than fiction.
  2. 10
    Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer by Andrea D. Lyon (TooBusyReading)
    TooBusyReading: More about those who are wrongfully convicted. An eye-opener.
  3. 10
    The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: True stories of corruption in the justice system. The Monster of Florence is about the search for a serial killer in Italy, The Innocent Man is a man falsely convicted and on death row.
  4. 10
    Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer's Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty by Scott Turow (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Novelist Scott Turow writes about his struggle to come to grips with the death penalty. This non-fiction work describes the evolution of his thought process and his sometimes ambivalent reasoning while he served on the Illinois Commission that investigated the effectiveness of the punishment and proposed important reforms to make its imposition more equitable.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
Too much "legalese" for my taste. ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
Too much "legalese" for my taste. ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
4.25 stars

In 1982, Debbie Carter was raped and murdered in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma. The police set their sights on Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz as their suspects, and finally brought them to trial in 1988. With all kinds of errors and issues with the way the investigation was run and the way they were tried, the two of them were wrongfully convicted, with Ron spending 11 years on Death Row, before they were exonerated with DNA testing. Ron was mentally unstable, even before the conviction and only deteriorated in prison, while continually maintaining his innocence.

This was really good. I thought the second half of the book picked up and held my attention just a little more than the first half. There were all kinds of problems with the entire process, and it's scary to think about how many innocent people might go to jail or be put to death due to that process (and how many already have). ( )
  LibraryCin | Dec 31, 2013 |
I am no fan of Grisham, so I admit my bias. But this was really boring, and poorly written. I really just skimmed through it in order to be able to discuss it for my book club. Lots of better stuff has been written about the injustices of the "justice: system. ( )
  Fernhill | Aug 20, 2013 |
A sad and disturbing book about the U.S. justice system.
  walterqchocobo | Apr 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
It’s true in some cosmic sense that the story of every life has value, but not to the writer of nonfiction. Writers of nonfiction narratives learn to pick their subjects with care, because some true stories are much, much more interesting than others. In this case, John Grisham could have conjured up a better story on his own.
added by stephmo | editNew York Times, Edward Lewine (Dec 10, 2006)
 
When Grisham gets into what happened to Williamson and company during their prison stay, The Innocent Man finds its purpose. In describing the wretched food, poor ventilation, and abusive guards—all factors that led to Oklahoma prisons being condemned by Amnesty International—Grisham makes clear exactly what's at stake when the state sends the wrong man to jail.
added by stephmo | editAV Club, Noel Murray (Dec 7, 2006)
 
Grisham is a great storyteller and a fine, no-nonsense writer. He has a well-honed attention to detail. He doesn't degenerate into cliches and he has a natural sense of dramatic structure that ensures the book has a compelling forward momentum.
 
John Grisham here crosses the line from fiction to non-fiction. And it's hard to tell the difference. His prose is still lean and fast-paced and his skilful sketches capture all you need to know about the characters. He explains courtroom procedure and precedent in a simple style that allows a layman to follow the legal labyrinth. Even the plot would fit comfortably between the covers of one of his earlier books, except this story is true.
 
Grisham is a great storyteller but an uninspired writer — he has none of Capote's weird, stark lyricism — but his spare, direct style serves him well here. He expertly dissects each judicial and constitutional outrage with cool precision.
added by stephmo | editSeattle Times, Andrea Simakis (Oct 12, 2006)
 
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Dedicated to Annette Hudson and Renee Simmons and to the memory of their brother
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The rolling hills of southeast Oklahoma stretch from Norman across to Arkansas and show little evidence of the vast deposits of crude oil that were once beneath them.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440243831, Mass Market Paperback)

John Grisham tackles nonfiction for the first time with The Innocent Man, a true tale about murder and injustice in a small town (that reads like one of his own bestselling novels). The Innocent Man chronicles the story of Ron Williamson, how he was arrested and charged with a crime he did not commit, how his case was (mis)handled and how an innocent man was sent to death row. Grisham's first work of nonfiction is shocking, disturbing, and enthralling--a must read for fiction and nonfiction fans. We had the opportunity to talk with John Grisham about the case and the book, read his responses below. --Daphne Durham 20 Second Interview: A Few Words with John Grisham

Q: After almost two decades of writing fiction, what compelled you to write non-fiction, particularly investigative journalism?
A: I was never tempted to write non-fiction, primarily because it's too much work. However, obviously, I love a good legal thriller, and the story of Ron Williamson has all the elements of a great suspenseful story.

Q: Why this case?
A: Ron Williamson and I are about the same age and we both grew up in small towns in the south. We both dreamed of being major league baseball players. Ron had the talent, I did not. When he left a small town in 1971 to pursue his dreams of major league glory, many thought he would be the next Mickey Mantle, the next great one from the state of Oklahoma. The story of Ron ending up on Death Row and almost being executed for a murder he did not commit was simply too good to pass up.

Q: How did you go about your research?
A: I started with his family. Ron is survived by two sisters who took care of him for most of his life. They gave me complete access to the family records, photographs, Ron's mental health records, and so on. There was also a truckload of trial transcripts, depositions, appeals, etc., that took about 18 months to organize and review. Many of the characters in the story are still alive and I traveled to Oklahoma countless times to interview them.

Q: Did your training as a lawyer help you?
A: Very much so. It enabled me to understand the legal issues involved in Ron's trial and his appeals. It also allowed me, as it always does, to be able to speak the language with lawyers and judges.

Q: Throughout your book you mention, The Dreams of Ada: A True Story of Murder, Obsession, and a Small Town. How did you come across that book, and how did it impact your writing The Innocent Man?
A: Several of the people in Oklahoma I met mentioned The Dreams of Ada to me, and I read it early on in the process. It is an astounding book, a great example of true crime writing, and I relied upon it heavily during my research. Robert Mayer, the author, was completely cooperative, and kept meticulous notes from his research 20 years earlier. Many of the same characters are involved in his story and mine.

Q: You take on some pretty controversial and heated topics in your book--the death penalty, prisoner’s rights, DNA analysis, police conduct, and more--were any of your own beliefs challenged by this story and its outcome?
A: None were challenged, but my eyes were open to the world of wrongful convictions. Even as a former criminal defense attorney, I had never spent much time worrying about wrongful convictions. But, unfortunately, they happen all the time in this country, and with increasing frequency.

Q: So many of the key players in this case are either still in office or practicing attorneys. Many family members and friends still live in the same small town. How do you think The Innocent Man will impact this community and other small rural towns as they struggle with the realities of the justice system?
A: Exonerations seem to be happening weekly. And with each one of them, the question is asked--how can an innocent man be convicted and kept in prison for 20 years? My book is the story of only one man, but it is a good example of how things can go terribly wrong with our judicial system. I have no idea how the book will be received in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma, or any other town.

Q: What do you hope your readers will take away from The Innocent Man?
A: A better understanding of how innocent people can be convicted, and a greater concern for the need to reimburse and rehabilitate innocent men after they have been released.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:27 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Presents the real-life case of Ron Williamson, a mentally ill former baseball player who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the 1982 murder of a 21-year-old woman in his Oklahoma hometown.

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