This is absolutely, hands down, the best true crime I've ever read. The work is meticulously researched and the information spliced into a full story. A convenience store employee is kidnapped and murdered; a town is turned upside down; and the people eventually convicted may or may not be guilty.
After reading the book I had to immediately reread it because I'd scampered through so fast I did not fully enjoy the great writing. Part of the book, including the 'dream' of one of the accused murderers, caused me to have chills. The writer does not come down on one side or another regarding their actual guilt - and that makes the book gripping. I have followed this case ever since with fascination.
The Grisham book set in Ada, OK, is a weak second. It's interesting to see how he used Mayer's structure, all the background material (not particularly updated) and a similar organizational structure to produce a second-rate book about another, less interesting murder.
"The Dreams of Ada" is a great follow-up to Grisham's "An Innocent Man". This true story is very well told to the point where it will haunt you just as Grisham's non-fiction piece from the same town and the same investigators. Robert Mayer weaves the story as only a true professional could. Very powerful expose on the Ada, Oklahoma system of justice.
Same town, same prosecutors, same situation as Grisham's "Innocent Man", murder convictions of innocent men.
'Dreams of Ada' is the best true crime book I have ever read. Another reviewer referred to it as a 'follow-up' to the John Grisham book 'The Innocent Man.' That is totally incorrect. Although that book is also set in Ada, OK, it was written after 'Dreams' and is about a totally different crime. It appears Grisham borrowed heavily from descriptions and impressions of Ada previously used by Mayer.
'Dreams' gives me chills each time I read certain sections. But it doesn't get that effect with any brutal or grisly descriptions of a crime or with any shock value. It's a fairly straightforward account of the kidnapping and murder of a most ordinary young lady. She was working in the wrong convenience store at the wrong time. What evokes chills is how the criminals (or perhaps NOT criminals) were convicted. A peculiar young man is questioned and begins to spout what he describes as a dream of the crime.
Unfortunately for him, and possibly for the victim's family, some of his details are dead on - yet it is almost impossible that he was involved. He and a sidekick are presently convicted, but their case is being reviewed. The book allows the reader to draw their own conclusions - if they can. A most disturbing view of a crime which may never be solved.
I found this book tedious and difficult to enjoy. It is obvious the author is milking the story for every thing is worth but I felt it could have been told sooner, without so much extension. He writes well but it is not my cup of tea to read on forever for a story that basically has been told earlier. Yes, the injustice of a small town and the harsh reality of a brutal crime are intermingled. Too long but thankful that through this wonderful club I was able to read it in the first place (but after a while I did skipped and jumped, skipped and jumped) but in my opinion the hight ratings were somewhat misleading for it is not a masterpiece of the genre. 3 Stars at the most!
Great read! Interesting book, would recommend it to others!