This book is a step out of Grisham's normal writing. Normally, of course, he writes fiction.
This book is every ounce the truth, and involves not one innocent man put on death row, but really three. All because of one small towns incompetent prosecutor and police.
The harrowing tale reads just like a work of fiction; you have to remind yourself every so often that someone truly suffered through this.
true crime AND written by a well-known author. I appreciate that Grisham has a reputation to uphold and therefore I know that I have a better chance of getting a well-rounded version of the story. This is not true with all true crime novels. It is an interesting read, makes me glad I live in the DNA test era.
I'm glad I read this book, but it is not your typical John Grisham. At times I felt detached, as if reading a blow by blow account, when I wanted to read a story instead. In the authors notes he states that he could have written 5,000 pages. I think he had a hard time deciding what to put in and what to cut and it seemed a little fragmented. BUT, it is a good story and will make you think about the justice system and how sometimes instead of being blind, it has on blinders.
I thought this was a great book. It's the true story of men wrongly imprisoned because we didn't have the techology we have now, because some men made deals and because certain law enforcement wanted to close the case....all of which I thought was very interesting, of course. But I also found it interesting and thought provoking to see what the false imprisonment did to the personalities and psyche of the men...those who wouldn't give up and those who did. Definitely a good read.
I really enjoyed this book. Grishom was able to hold my interest throughout the book. The story of Ron Williamson is a tragic one that needed to be told. I hope Oklahoma's judicial system has cleaned up its act!!
This book shocked and opened my eyes to the issue of sending innocent people to prison. I am from Oklahoma and grew up in a small town in the Panhandle. John Grisham nails what it is like to live in Oklahoma. The class culture and every thing is either black and white prevail. I never knew the state prison was in such bad condition. You assume you pay your taxes the government will make sure that at least the minimun standards are met. The mental health care was sorely overlooked, and because the family had no money there was nothing they could do. To see a man deteriate as Ron Williamson did and to be treated as he was in the various jail enviroments was heart breaking and shocking. I expected more from my home state and if it hadn't of been for Judge Seay an innocent man would have been put to death. How many more are there out there?
I usually read John Grisham because of his typical fast paced law dramas, but my husband had wanted to read this so I thought gave it a try when he was done. This is not your typical Grisham fiction. This was actually based on true story, but still contains the law drama.
The details and the writing are great, but the saga itself is kind drawn out. I understand that human drama can be long and trying but I was getting slightly bored in places.
One of the great things I did get was the ability to compare current law enforcement and forensics that we utilize now that are described in the first stages in this book.
Overall a good read. Not typical Grisham, but still the same great writing.
As the book flap says: 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.
This is John Grisham's first book of nonfiction. At first it drove me crazy that he was telling about each persons past I guess I wanted him to get to the dirt. But it was gripping and oh yes it will infuriate you how these men were treated like yesterdays trash.
I lived in OKC during this time and was completely unaware that it was happening in a small town southeast of me. Grisham writes the non-fiction as well as fiction, maybe even better. This one will definately open your eyes to the ways our justice system has effected peoples life. It also will show you how important DNA testing has become to our justice system. A great book, but beware, it will make you upset.
Tracy F. (tsf) reviewed The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town on
Helpful Score: 2
Writing fiction is very different from documenting an actual series of events.
Grisham's fiction books are real page turners and hard to put down. This one was about actual real events and should have been a compelling read but it was just dull reading.
I tried twice to wade through it before giving it away.
I've always been pro death penalty but this book has made me reconsider my values. I would've given it 5 stars but felt that Grisham inserted his opinion too much, as if he didn't trust his readers to see the injustice done to Ron Williamson and others who were actually innocent of the crimes they were accused of.
The book is well written and hard to believe it is non-fiction. The story shows gross misconduct with the sloppy police work, lazy judges and lawyers that just didn't give a damn about the innocent men. It seems they were all quick to point fingers and speed an unfair trail along so that they could put someone behind bars and send the "guilty" to death.
One could never imagine a worse hell than what the victim had to go through before being killed and their faimly of having to find her body as well as go through an emotional trail. Not to mention what the accused and thier family had to live through before finally being aquitted. Living in a small cell for over 11 years is enough to drive anyone crazy, especially if they did not commit a crime that would justify their stay behind bars.
Even after being released from prison, Ron has to live in a constant "jail" (his mind). Although he did nothing wrong and did not commit any crimes, after living in jail and in a federal prision, it still haunts him. People are upset of his release, and he has to live with the constant feeling that they can find "new" evidence that could send him back to his nightmare. The guards would toture him with thier words because they knew just how disturbed he was mentally and they got a kick out of making him fly off the handle.
There are a lot of twists and turns in this horrible true story. If you enjoy non-fiction crime books. This is a good read as John Grisham has done another wonderful job at having all of the detailed placed percisely, without having any slow moving chapters.
I really enjoyed reading this book, altho, it is not typically a John Grisham book, (non fiction) it is a very scary but true story about a truly innocent man, and the very inept judicial sydtem in many states in our country.It is a very quick read and I truly believe that most people will enjoy reading it as much as I did....
This is the second book I've read about our criminal justice system and the death penalty. It is horrifying that so many innocent people are killed for crimes they did not commit. I can not begin to accept a common response to this "well, they probably were pretty bad people in the first place, so who cares?"
This book is well written and demonstrates not only the mistakes and arrogance leading to innocent people receiving the death penalty, but the human emotions that lead juries to make inaccurate and devastating decisions in these cases. It is well worth reading and I hope it will change some minds about this penalty. We are the only nation in the "civilized" world which still uses the death penalty.
I highly recommend it.
In Grisham's first foray into non-fiction, he has done a great job. It is truly amazing the corruption, laziness, and outright stupidity that can happen in the real law and order world - with a man's *real* life *really* at stake. This book will make you shudder - even though the main character is not necessarily a sympathetic one, you cannot help but feel his horror and bewilderment at his situation. I hope Grisham writes more non-fiction.
I loved this book. I'm against the death penalty and this book is a wonderful illustration of a corrupt criminal justice system. I considered keeping this book for myself, however I think that everyone needs to have their eyes opened to this injustice. This book hits close to home due to the fact that I live about 40 miles away from the town in which it occured and John Grisham gets the feel of small town Oklahoma just right.
This book was a disappointment to me. It read more like one of those "true crime" books that appear in Walmart shortly after some horrible crime is committed. It did not keep my interest, so just skimmed through the last half. If I hadn't been stranded on a plane, I would have set it aside and picked up something else.
I admit I didn't finish the book. I was bored, I had a bit of trouble following the relationship of all the characters involved because there were so many that I had to reread passages. I think Grisham copied the style of Capote from "In Cold Blood" and I didn't care for that book either.
I love Grisham, I think he is very talented and didn't need to take tips from another's style.
I hope that his next book won't be so hurried (I think a few more revisions would have helped immensely).
Tami C. (ladyfire) reviewed The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town on
Helpful Score: 1
This true story was not only very compelling and magnificently written, but it gave me chills. John Grisham does a wonderful job of showing us just how easy and even, perhaps, commonplace it is for innocent people to be railroaded through trial and conviction for murders they did not commit. The rather boring and mundane details of an unwieldy appeals court process that drags on for years becomes anything BUT boring and mundane as you hold your breath hoping on each page for true justice to rear its head. Skillfully, the true details of the crime are revealed to us as the story progresses, so that no questions seem left unanswered and you walk away from this book feeling vindication and a supreme sense of satisfaction that sometimes the system really does work...finally.
In the town of Ada, Oklahoma, Ron Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle. But on his way to the Big Leagues, Ron stumbled, his dreams were broken by drinking, drugs, and women. Then, on a winter night in 1982, not far from Ron's home, a young cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was savagely murdered. The investigation led nowhere. Until, on the flimsiest evidence, it led to Ron Williamson. The washed-up small-town hero was charged, tried,and sentenced to death - in a trial littered with lying witnesses and tainted evidence that would shatter a man's already broken life... and let a true killer go free.
Impeccably researched, grippingly told, filled with eleventh-hour drama, John Grisham's first work of nonfiction reads like a page-turning legal thriller. It is a bok that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence 0 a book no American can afford to miss.
TRUE STORY Ada, Oklahoma, small town baseball star falls to bi polar and mental problems along with heavy drinking. He and an fellow bar mate get accused of murdering a local girl. The police use shady tactics to send these two fellows to prison. Attorney Barry Scheck (OJ Simpson fame) and the warriors of the Innocence Project get the conviction overturned, with DNA. Very real account of how the weak get railroaded by law enforcement. Instead of doing detective work, they have already decided who is guilty. John Grisham does a great job with details of the case. It is a very fast read.
As a fan of John Grisham, I have read most of his novels. I was surprised that this book is non-fiction, yet it is more scary than many of his fiction books. To read the details of how this man and others were tried and convicted of murder without any real proof makes you wonder about the reliability of our justice system.
ReadingMonster reviewed The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town on
Helpful Score: 1
What a horrifying tale - but, an absolute must-read. This is John Grisham's excellent non-fiction account of several travesties of justice in Oklahoma, sending multiple innocent men to death row. Most notably, this book focuses on the case of Ron Williamson, a sad case if there ever was one. I was blown away by this account and I really would like to see Grisham write about other similar cases. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
One of the most frightening books. While the central case is sad, the ancilary injustices cited show how unjust our legal system can when citizens do not get involved and simply take the police at their word.
John Grisham doesn't have his own voice for non-fiction. This was written very much in the style of Capote's "In Cold Blood". Grisham portrays the same sympathy for the characters in the same tone. The jacket of the book claims to infuriate you with the U.S. criminal justice system, but he does little storytelling in the book to prompt any strong emotions. Granted, the facts are well researched, but it wasn't really an impressive work.
You would never know this is Grisham's first attempt at non-fiction. This is a different type of true crime book. This book focuses more on the life of one man wrongly accused, basically framed by the police and prosecutors. A man who suffered greatly. The crime was never investigated properly. The victim deserved justice and it took too long for that to come.
This book reminded me more of a legal textbook than a John Grisham novel. It was something that I had to make myself read, instead of the usual stay-up-all-night, can't-put-it-down page-turner that he usually publishes.
The Innocent Man by John Grisham is a nonfiction book that describes the arrest and conviction of a four men accused of murder. The Oklahoma story centers around Ron Williamson, a troubled bipolar maverick who was arrested and sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. This pre-DNA analysis story uncovers how the small town politics, fixed beliefs of prosecutors and tainted and ignored evidence combine to send innocent men to prison. It also lays bare the nastiness of sadistic prison guards who tormented Ron while he was on death row. John Grisham became interested in the story after reading a headline about Williamson and reconstructed the events. This is a chilling book that reads like a novel but is true.
I found this to be an excellent read. It held my attention throughout. Very scary to know what our legal system is capable of doing without being held responsible or even being detected until the damage is done. A page turner and eye opener.
What made this book so gripping was the fact that it is a true story. It scared me that a miscarriage of justice could and probably still does happen. I had a hard time putting the book down knowing it was true. I had to know the outcome.
This book is for the person who is a real mystery seeker. The type of person who would read this would like the good description the author uses. If you get confused about how the clues work, the author always pulls you back in. Would not recommend to someone who is younger than 13.
This is John Grisham's only true crime book. I found it very compelling. It's the story of two innocent men convicted of murder in a small town in Oklahoma. The details of the miscarriages of justice by the police, the judges, the prosecutor and the defense attorney are too bizarre to imagine, and yet they are absolutely true. One of the men was very much mentally ill when not medicated, and his treatment (and denial of treatment) by the prison system while he was on death row was pitiful. I don't have a lot of sympathy typically for convicted criminals, but I disapprove of emotionally torturing a mentally ill man and denying him medication that keeps him essentially sane. I don't want to give anything away. Grisham gives details of other miscarriages of justice in Oklahoma, particularly in Ada, and also highlights the Innocence Project. Pretty interesting and depressing read.
Neoma M. (june04) reviewed The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town on
This story needed to be told as it happens much more than anyone realizes in our justice system. Whileas there are many hardened criminals in prisons that should never see daylight again, there are also those that have been railroaded like Ron Williamson and Mr. Fritz, who totally was an innocent person. Sadly once you are in the grips of the system it is almost impossible to to work thru the system without many many years and many many dollars passing by and sometimes that does not even help. In Missouri Governor Carnahan executed an innocent man with people begging and pleading all over literally the world for clemency, but what goes around comes around, just a few years later, he died in a plane crash.
A very compelling book and it's non-fiction! It's a true story of INJustice in Ada, Oklahoma back in the 70's, 80's and 90's. An innocent man (and others) is sent to death row based on lies and police torture and trickery. It will make you think again about the death penalty. Excellent book!
This is a story that needed to be told. John Grisham was the right man to tell it. I admire him for all the in-depth research he did and for his keen insight as to what it all really meant. He has done us all a service in telling us how the 'justice' system sometimes really works.
Please don't judge this book by just its story, or how it was written. The vital message to take away is that these horrors happened to these people and likely to many more who don't have John Grisham to write their stories.
It is sometimes not a comfortable read, but its message needs to be known to us all.
This book has a very scary premise. So many innocent men sent to prison, even death row, for crimes they did not commit. I thought that the content of this book was interesting, but it took me some time to get into the book. I was definitely more into the book by the end than I was at the beginning of the book.
I liked this book very much. Most of Grisham's books are novels, but this is a true-life story. The central character is a young man with great potential in baseball -- but his pride and indiscipline ruin him. Through a series of law enforcement bungles, he is convicted of murder and ends up on death row.
As I read the book, part of me thought, "This guy wasn't much of a loss! -- no one to cry over!" -- but then I remembered that (1) there was still a killer on the loose and (2) this kind of injustice can happen to anyone.
I enjoyed learning how good counsel made a difference (finally) in this young man's life. It was also fun to read about the public embarrassment suffered by the law enforcement officials who so determinedly bungled the young man's arrest and trial in the first place.
Whether you agree with the death penalty or not, this book will probably infuriate you. It's hard to believe something like this can happen. It was a quick read for me. I thought it was well written and very easy to follow the story.
It was a long, sometimes tedious read, but I was compelled to see it through to the end even though I knew the outcome. I found myself getting angrier as I read the fabricated evidence against these men (Williamson/Fritz and Ward/Fontenot), but continually asked myself what I would have believed had I been a citizen of Ada at that time. Hindsight is 20-20; John Grisham didnt build this case overnight and it certainly didnt come to him in a dream. Along with Robert Mayers The Dreams of Ada, Grisham spent endless hours seeking out court records and reading volumes of testimony about the original accounts of the evidence and trials in these two murders. In addition, he interviewed many of the people mentioned in his book and toured the prisons as well. Once all the facts were gathered he was able to put them together so that the end result was ALL the evidence, whether hidden, fabricated, manipulated or true. We, as judge and jury after the fact, are able to see the whole story whereas residents and jurors at that time only had the facts as presented to them by people, educators and expert witnesses of their town and surrounding counties people trusted for seeking truth and justice. Im appalled that these men (all four of them) were found guilty, but not surprised. My hope and prayer, as well as Mayers and Grishams, is that Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot will also have an opportunity for a fair retrial where all the facts can be presented and the truth revealed, whatever that truth is. Of course, as Grisham mentions at the end, there is no forensic evidence so DNA testing cannot be done.
Sadder still is the tragic deterioration of Williamsons mental health. Granted, he was his own worst enemy, but surely somewhere in the system he fell through the cracks over and over again when he was unable to care for himself properly and when his meds were administered NOT for his benefit, but to manipulate his behavior to suit those who were in control to use his outbursts to their advantage during the trials. This is a very sad tale of injustice and social out casting.
Oh, that we could only learn from the experiences of others.
Ron Williamson started a promising career as a pro baseball player. But an injury and his drug and drinking habits unraveled his life. When a local coctail waitress is murdered, it went unsolved for five years, until Williamson and a friend were arrested. With no physical evidence, the case was built on air. Williamson was convicted and sentenced to death row in 1988. He was exonerated in 1999.
A lot of background information supplied, that for me got tedious and lengthy.
I generally love and enjoy reading true crime, on top of that John Grisham is a great writer, but this was the longest read ever! There are certain parts that you just want to skip because they are so dry.
The journalistic review of a most disturbing injustice of jailing the wrong man for murder was very interesting in the second half. There were so many purposely false steps in the prosecution that after a while I got bored with reading all of the things that went wrong. By far the most interesting part to me was the second half of the book which described the unraveling of the false accusations. The work of the Innocent Victim group of attorneys was breath taking. I also enjoyed the end of the book where the author told what had happened in the mean time to the people in the book. The most shocking was that the prosecuting district attorney in the small town is still in office.
I love Grisham but this particular novel seemed a bit contrived...almost like you're listening to a rough draft being read aloud...lots of plot but not much artistry. If you're a die-hard fan, you might like it. I was disappointed.
"The Innocent Man" shows you how ordinary people can have their lives ruined by a miscarriage of justice. This is a major page turner and Grisham's deep feelings of disdain toward the criminal justice system are very apparent. Extremely well researched, well written book that is worth reading...
Harrowing account of a town government that encarcerated a mentally challenged man for a crime he didn't commit. Grisham walks you through the facts, transcripts, and testimony in gripping fashion. Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction.
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 habitsdrinking, 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.
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.
In the town of Ada, Oklahoma, Ron Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle. But on the way to the Big Leagues, Ron stumbled, his dreams broken by drinking, drugs & women. Then, on a winter night in 1982, not far from Ron's home, a young cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was savagely murdered. The investigation led nowhere. Until, on the flimsiest evidence, it led to Ron Williamson. The washed-up small-town hero was charged, tried & sentenced to death - in a trial littered w/lying witnesses &tainted evidence that would shatter a man's already broken life . . . and let a true killer go free
Impeccably researched, grippingly told, filled with eleventh-hour drama, John Grisham's first work of nonfiction reads like a page-turning legal thriller. It is a book that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence - a book no American can afford to miss.
Very well written and this is the second time I heard this CD.
Everybody should read this book and they will learn that there is innocent men and women in prison and should support groups that are helping them. Yes most are guilty but not all. I supporting a man filming stories about people that claim to be innocent and DNA can prove it by donating the use of some very expensive video cameras I own.
Did not enjoy it, but probably mostly my fault. I read it with the expectations to be similar to other Grisham novels. Based on a true story and more of a documentary. Lacked the page turning suspense.
This book was well written and captivating. I'm a huge fan of the "Innocence Project" and was pleased they made it into this story. This is my first time to read a John Grisham book, although I've seen a couple of the movies made from his previous novels. It definitely won't be my last John Grisham book, especially if I can find more about true crime. I listen to books on audio while I sew and I found myself wanting to hurry up with my other responsibilities so I could get back to sewing and this book! I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. The main character in this book, Ron Williamson, had such a tragic life. I found myself wishing and hoping that those responsible for putting him away unjustly could experience the same hell he endured for many years to come. I highly recommend this book.
Kind of proves the old saying "If it ain't broke don't try to fix it!" This is a different kind of writing for Grisham - and hopefully he will get back to the "tried and true" of his past. From my viewpoint this type of writing is done better by others -
In the town of Ada OK, Ron Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle, but on his way to the Big Leagues, Ron stumbled, his dreams broken by drinking, drugs and women. Then, on a winter night in 1982, not far from Ron's home, a young cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was savagely murdered. The investigation led nowhere until, on the flimsiest evidence, it led to Ron Williams. The washed-up small-town hero was charged, tried and sentenced to death in a trial littered with lying witneses and tainted evidence that would shatter a man's already broken life and let a true killer go free..."
This is a true story of 4 innocent men in a small town where justice is very loosly applied. It centers on 1 particular man, Ron, a former professional ballplayer with mediocre talent. With Grisham's typical good writing, the story reads very well & the reader is frustrated when very poor police work put 4 men behind bars who are innocent of the crimes. While this takes place in Oklahoma, I'm sure the same type of problem exists in almost every small town in America, where evidence counts for little & the behavior/life-style of the man condemns him. This is good reading as well as an eye-opener for those who don't know about small-town justice.
My reaction to The Innocent Man was outrage at how two men could be convicted of a crime with so little evidence. It was also disheartening to witness the mental and emotional deterioration of a prisoner.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in crime stories.
This story is true, but unfair. A poor man gets arrested and convicted of a murder he did not commit or have anything to do with. His only alibi witness is dead.
John Grisham tackles nonfiction for the first time with The Innocent Man, a true tale about murder and injustice in a small town. 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.
Cheryl V. reviewed The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town on
Eye opening look into our "justice" system. Mainly follows one case but along the way mentions numerous other cases where justice was not done and innocent people are on death row due to problems on so many levels (police, prosecutors, judges, jails, prisons, mental health care).
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 A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big-league glory.
Six years laater 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 twenty-one-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, the 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.
In the town of Ada, Oklahoma, Ron Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle. But on his way to the Big Leagues, Ron stumbled, his dreams broken by drinking, drugs, and women. Then, on a winter night in 1982, not far from Ron's home, a young cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was savagely murdered. The investigation led nowhere. Until, on the flimsiest evidence, it led to Ron Williamson. The washed-up small-town hero was charged, tried, and sentenced to death - in a trial littered with lying witnesses and tainted evidence that would shatter a man's already broken life... and let a true killer go free.