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The Innocent Man by John Grisham

The Innocent Man (2006)

by John Grisham

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,1581381,016 (3.52)110
  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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English (132)  Italian (2)  German (2)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (138)
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
This is one of Grisham’s firsts into nonfiction. I was totally taken aback by the loose ways that the criminal justice system sometimes fails miserably to protect the innocent from incarceration. The buffoonery of the prosecutor and evidence handlers is almost comical, if it weren’t so blatantly misused in the miscarriage of justice. The Three Stooges would have gotten better results. Thank God for the appeals procedures that are in place to find these miscarriages of justice and tries to correct them. In the end the guys are finally released from prison but with no one even saying “Sorry we screwed you out of 15 years of your life.” The one thing taken away from this book is to stay away from Ada Oklahoma if you’re accused of murder. I really believe Patterson would have put his own mother on death row with far less usable evidence. Grisham did his research and put together a fine novel here. Definitely recommended. ( )
  krgulick | Jun 19, 2019 |
started on June 11th, 2019.
  MustangGuy | Jun 10, 2019 |
I liked the author's writing style very much but the book was spoiled for me by how much loving attention was given to the wrongly accused suspect- who was a multiple rapist although not convicted- yet the victim hardly warranted discussion. Her crime scene was explained in more detail than her tragically short -and honorable - life. ( )
  Anja_Martinez | Apr 18, 2019 |
(16) This is the story of one of the men on death row exonerated after the advent of DNA technology and 'The Innocence Project.' Ron Williamson was a small town baseball star in rural Oklahoma who actually got a shot at the big leagues. After his failure to succeed there his life unravelled into alcohol abuse, chronic unemployment, and crime - but never murder. The gruesome rape and murder of young Debbie Carter in his home-town of Ada, Oklahoma leaves the town shocked and law enforcement seems to have no share of scumbags to try to pin the crime on - whether they are actually guilty or not Thus we hear about how Ron and his alleged co-conspirator, Dennis Fritz, get convicted of capital murder and Ron at least gets sent to death row. This is true crime/court room writing but this time from Grisham - its a true story.

I found this very engaging. It has been many years since I read some of Grisham's more famous fiction - can't ever remember which exact ones I read. I have been reading/watching things like 'The Staircase,' and 'A Death in Belmont,' about the Boston Strangler and this seemed to fit that bill. I have such mixed feelings about capital punishment - this at least seemed to be a travesty of justice. Grisham did a wonderful job characterizing Ron - he was incredibly non-judgmental and portrayed a mentally ill but a smart, charismatic, fairly resilient man who tried to make something of his life. You could not help but empathize with him, yet at the same time shake your head in exasperation. What a sad, sad life.

Anyway, this is an interesting look at the justice system and what it has the potential to do to poor, addled petty criminals. Just because you are lost, doesn't mean you are a murderer. Guilt by association, guilt because you are crazy and violent and a public nuisance, guilt because we need a scapegoat, guilt because a jailhouse is as good as a mental health placement - out of the public eye.

This is an interesting read, albeit a bit sensationalist. It is definitely more about Ron and Ada, Oklahoma than a true expose and commentary on the justice system. So more voyeuristic, less gravitas - but still a fascinating read - I'll have to search out the Netflix series that seems to have been made. ( )
  jhowell | Apr 13, 2019 |
Actually terrifying to read in detail exactly how flawed and fucked up our justice system can really be. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 132 (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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John Grishamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Biavasco, AnnamariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:16 -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.

» see all 18 descriptions

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