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Trial by Fire

To close my week of blogging on my new book The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, I wanted to touch on one last story that is in the collection. It's about a man named Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for allegedly setting a fire that killed his three children. Based on the testimony of arson investigators, the case seemed airtight. But Elizabeth Gilbert, a school teacher who gets to know Willingham, begins to reinvestigate the case, unearthing a series of systemic failures, from the reliability of the arson evidence to the veracity of a jail-house informant. The story explores not only the question of whether an innocent man was executed; it also delves into the friendship between Gilbert and Willingham. Gilbert recalled of the moment before Willingham was executed, "All that time, I thought I was saving Willingham, and I realized then that he was saving me."

I want to thank Powell's again for giving me the opportunity to blog this week about my new book, and for those who want to read what others are saying about it here are some links to the first reviews:

The Miami Herald: Twelve snapshots of obsession in 'The Devil and Sherlock Holmes'

Entertainment Weekly: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes

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David Grann is the author of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes and The Lost City of Z, and a staff writer at the New Yorker.

Books mentioned in this post

David Grann is the author of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession

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