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The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Townby John Grisham
An equally absorbing and troubling inquiry into a case of criminal injustice, Grisham's nonfiction debut equals the storytelling of his unparalleled fiction.
Synopses & Reviews
John Grisham's first work of nonfiction, an exploration of small town justice gone terribly awry, is his most extraordinary legal thriller yet.
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 As, 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 twenty 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.
"Grisham has written both an American tragedy and his strongest legal thriller yet, all the more gripping because it happens to be true. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly
"Compared with other works in its genre, The Innocent Man is less spectacular than sturdy. It is a reminder not only of how propulsively Mr. Grisham's fiction is constructed but of how difficult it is to make messy reality behave in clear, streamlined fashion." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"[Grisham's] prose here isn't as good as it is in his novels — he too often misuses 'like' for 'as,' and the exclamation points he inserts as ironic asides are clumsy — but his reasoning is sound and his passion is contagious." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
"Grisham has crafted a legal thriller every bit as suspenseful and fast-paced as his best-selling fiction....An Innocent Man is a page-turning and chilling descent into one innocent man's Kafkaesque nightmare of injustice and madness." Boston Globe
"Thanks to his abundant storytelling skills, the author delivers an account that is as vivid as the Grisham fictional fare sold at airport kiosks — but it is also, alas, just as oversimplified as his novels, and it distorts the justice system in the same way." The Wall Street Journal
"John Grisham's first work of nonfiction, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, tells a deeply troubling story about wrongful criminal convictions, the denial of basic constitutional rights and the unjust imposition of the death penalty." The Oregonian
"Despite my lack of enthusiasm for Grisham's fiction, I wish The Innocent Man had been a novel. Why? Because the true story Grisham tells is awful to contemplate." Denver Post
"Grisham [speaks out about the injustice of capital punishment] in a voice loud and clear and through a book that fully explains why the nation needs to reexamine the process by which we sentence criminals to be executed." BookReporter.com
John Grisham's first work of nonfiction, an exploration of small town justice gone terribly awry, is his most extraordinary legal thriller yet. Those who believe in "innocent until proven guilty" or that the criminal justice system is fair will be shocked and infuriated.
About the Author
John Grisham is the author of The Broker, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, A Painted House, The Brethren, The Testament, The Street Lawyer, The Partner, The Runaway Jury, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Firm, and A Time to Kill. He lives with his family in Mississippi and Virginia.
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