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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 A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory. 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 A's, 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.


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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 A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory. 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 A's, 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.

30 review for The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Grisham

    Nonfiction is hard to write because you have to strive to stick to the facts, and facts have a way of changing shape as each new perspective is brought into play.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Perlman

    I've enjoyed a few Grisham's in my day, and of course seen a few of the films... But this book is stunning, and it's his first non-fiction. I myself practice criminal law, and of course if you asked me, I'd say there are bad cops out there, and bad prosecutors, and bad defense attorneys and bad judges, but I would not have imagined the devastating travesty that unfolds on these pages. This is a story of small town justice going way south. It wasn't vigilante but it wasn't far off. They used the "s I've enjoyed a few Grisham's in my day, and of course seen a few of the films... But this book is stunning, and it's his first non-fiction. I myself practice criminal law, and of course if you asked me, I'd say there are bad cops out there, and bad prosecutors, and bad defense attorneys and bad judges, but I would not have imagined the devastating travesty that unfolds on these pages. This is a story of small town justice going way south. It wasn't vigilante but it wasn't far off. They used the "system" over two decades to accomplish what a mob and noose once accomplished overnight. The evil that even prosperous, educated people can do to one another is astonishing in this detailed, chilling account of a man who's constitutional rights are run roughshod over en route to a death penalty conviction for a murder he did not commit and for which no real evidence existed. This is an informative, exciting, fast paced, real life chiller that everyone should read to understand how something unbelievable can and apparently does happen to "anyone."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    This True Crime story reads like a straight forward Master's thesis on the injustice some accused but innocent Death Row inmates have gone through. No embellishments or random filler, just the facts (Ma'am). While this could prove daunting if you look for a little extra color and storytelling in your True Crime, it is still a very good and enthralling book that will no doubt get your anger juices flowing. As someone who gets very frustrated by stories of false accusations (I still yell at the TV This True Crime story reads like a straight forward Master's thesis on the injustice some accused but innocent Death Row inmates have gone through. No embellishments or random filler, just the facts (Ma'am). While this could prove daunting if you look for a little extra color and storytelling in your True Crime, it is still a very good and enthralling book that will no doubt get your anger juices flowing. As someone who gets very frustrated by stories of false accusations (I still yell at the TV every time I watch The Fugitive), this was a very hair-pulling experience. But, that is not necessarily a good or bad thing, it just means I was very engaged and invested in the story. Sometimes the best and most interesting stories have a lot of pain along the way. This is definitely one of those. What makes this story particularly heartbreaking is all the waste of money/time/resources, all the ignored evidence, all the time behind bars for no reason, and, worst of all, complete apathy towards mental illness. There was a convenient "answer", so they went with it. It is scary to think that some day any of us could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and be the convenient "answer". I stress . . . SCARY! There have been throughout history many stories of legal injustice. Some of these stories are worse than others. 2020 has been a particularly bad year for that, so you may feel like avoiding this one until later if you have had too much of it. But, this is a true story worth checking out if the subject of what the wrongly accused go through interests you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    3.5 stars In this non-fiction book John Grisham tells the shocking and disheartening story of two men who were wrongfully convicted of rape and murder in Oklahoma. Author John Grisham ***** Ron Williamson, born in 1953, grew up in a loving Christian family in Ada, Oklahoma. He was a star on his high school baseball team and played for several professional minor league teams, hoping to make it to the majors. Ron Williamson on his high school baseball team Ron Williamson played minor league baseball 3.5 stars In this non-fiction book John Grisham tells the shocking and disheartening story of two men who were wrongfully convicted of rape and murder in Oklahoma. Author John Grisham ***** Ron Williamson, born in 1953, grew up in a loving Christian family in Ada, Oklahoma. He was a star on his high school baseball team and played for several professional minor league teams, hoping to make it to the majors. Ron Williamson on his high school baseball team Ron Williamson played minor league baseball Injuries and health problems shattered these dreams however, and a short unsuccessful marriage added to Ron's woes. By his mid-20s Ron was back in Ada, carousing, drinking heavily, philandering, and starting to show signs of mental illness. At about this time he became friends with Dennis Fritz, who became his partying buddy. Ron Williamson Dennis Fritz Then in 1982 a young woman named Debbie Carter was brutally raped and murdered in her apartment in Ada. Debbie Carter The police did a less than thorough investigation and - in a major instance of bungling - gave a pass to Glen Gore, who had been harassing Debbie and was known to be violent toward women. It turns out the police (more or less) ignored Glen as a suspect because a few cops were doing drug deals with Glen at the time. Glen Gore In any case the investigation dragged on and finally, in 1988, Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were arrested and charged with the rape and murder of Debbie Carter. There was no credible physical evidence against the men but prosecutor Bill Peterson lined up (and coached) a series of mendacious jailhouse snitches - which resulted in convictions. Mug shot of Ron Williamson Prosecutor Bill Peterson Law enforcement individuals manipulated evidence and witnesses to get convictions Dennis was sentenced to life in prison and Ron was given the death penalty. Grisham gives a detailed account of the 'investigation' and a play by play description of the trials, and it's frightening to see the lengths Peterson and the police would go to to secure 'confessions' and convictions. Grisham then details Ron's years on death row as his lawyers file appeal after appeal. By this time Ron was severely mentally ill as well as prison facility that was boiling in summer and freezing in winter, with nasty guards who delighted in tormenting disturbed Ron. Oklahoma State Penitentiary Death Row Ron Williamson's mental health deteriorated in prison Ron Williamson aged prematurely in prison To cut to the chase: twelve years after Ron and Dennis's convictions DNA evidence showed that the imprisoned men were innocent and that Glen Gore was guilty. Ron and Dennis were released from prison but DA Peterson - in a major demonstration of stubborn hubris - refused to apologize. In fact, he indicated that he still thought of the two men as suspects and might even retry them if he found more evidence. Of course this preyed on Ron's already troubled mind. Nevertheless, six years later Gore was finally convicted of Pamela's murder. Dennis Fritz was exonerated Ron Williamson was freed Glen Gore was convicted The book is interesting and informative...but also sad and disheartening. I felt angry that the Ada police and DA Peterson were not held to account for their outrageous behavior. In fact a google search revealed that Peterson tried to sue Grisham and other people who wrote books about the case, claiming they libelled him (as if!) However, Peterson was routinely unsuccessful with these lawsuits. On the negative side the book is overly long and goes into too much detail about every aspect of Ron's life. Grisham details all of Ron's childhood/teen sports (he played baseball and basketball); his antics to get his parents and sister to pay for nice clothes, a car, and expensive sports camps; Ron's many unsuccessful experiences with minor league baseball teams; his injuries and rehabilitations; Ron's bar-hopping and picking up women; his horrible years on death row; the round of talk shows and celebrations when Ron and Dennis are released from prison; and finally Ron's ongoing physical decline and eventual death in a nursing home. It's just a little too much. Still, this cautionary tale about justice gone wrong is worth reading and instructive. You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Smalltown, John Grisham The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town is a 2006 true crime book by John Grisham. The book tells the story of Ronald 'Ron' Keith Williamson of Ada, Oklahoma, a former minor league baseball player who was wrongly convicted in 1988 of the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter in Ada and was sentenced to death. After serving 11 years on death row, he was exonerated by DNA evidence and other material introduced by the I The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Smalltown, John Grisham The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town is a 2006 true crime book by John Grisham. The book tells the story of Ronald 'Ron' Keith Williamson of Ada, Oklahoma, a former minor league baseball player who was wrongly convicted in 1988 of the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter in Ada and was sentenced to death. After serving 11 years on death row, he was exonerated by DNA evidence and other material introduced by the Innocence Project and was released in 1999. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه دسامبر سال 2010 میلادی عنوان: مرد معصوم: نویسنده: جان گریشام؛ مترجم: فریده مهدوی دامغانی؛ تهران، کتابسرای نیک؛ 1387؛ در 604ص؛ شابک 9789642953113؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20م داستان وکیلی نابینا، موکلی دیوانه، دستگاه قضایی خودستا، پلیس­هایی فاسد، و عدالت، که به مسلخ میرود. «ران ویلیامسون» جوانی با آرزوی تبدیل شدن به بزرگترین ورزشکار ایالت «اوکلاهما»، نوجوانی را طی می­کند، در عنفوان جوانی یک بازیکن بیسبال با آینده­ ای روشن می­تواند باشد، ولی مزایای شهرت را وامی­نهد، و به بیراهه رانده می­شود؛ آسیب­های جسمانی، در کنار افراط در نوشیدن مشروبات الکی و مصرف مواد مخدر، زندگی ورزش­ی او را بسیار زود به انتها می­رساند؛ زندگی ­ای که می­توانست سرشار از افتخار باشد، تبدیل به گنجینه ی حسرتها می­شود؛ حسرتهایی که ذهنش را می­خراشند، و او را بیماری روانی می­کنند دختر جوانی، به نام: «دبرا سو کارتر»، در شهر کوچک «ادا»، در منزل خویش به طرز وحشتیانه ­ای مورد تجاوز قرار گرفته، و کشته می­شود؛ ترس از ناامنی، شهر را فرامی­گیرد، و اهالی در انتظار یافتن قاتل، و مجازات بزهکار هستند؛ اداره ی آگاهی و دادگستری شهر، درمانده و ناتوان، از حل معمای قتل، زیر فشار افکار عمومی، و برای رهایی از مخمصه، به دنبال شخصی می­گردند، که با پرونده­ سازی بتوانند، او را مجرم جلوه دهند، و چه کسی بهتر از جوانی که به سرعت از ورزشکاری موفق، به دائم­ الخمری بی­کار، سقوط کرده، و نیز مشتری همیشگی همان کلوبی بوده، که مقتول نیز در همانجا مشغول به کار بوده است بنا بر همین برهانها، «ران» سرپوش مناسبی، بر بی­کفایتی اداره­ ی آگاهی، و دادگستری، برای آرام کردن افکار عمومی می­شود؛ از لحظه دستگیری، بازجویی از متهم آغاز شده، در دادگاه نیز همین روال ادامه می­یابد؛ اداره ی آگاهی، که آگاه نیست، به یاری دادگستری که دیگر دادگستر نیست، و هیات منصفه نیز، یارای مقاومت در برابر خواسته ی آگاهی و دادگستری را ندارد؛ آنها دلیل ارائه میدهند، تا واقعیت را، آنطور که خود می­خواهند، جلوه دهند؛ شهادت جنایتکاران، محکمترین مدرک اثبات گناهکاری «ران» می­شود، کاری از دست وکیل نابینای «ران» برنمی­آید، پس به ناچار، خود بی­گناهیش را فریاد می­ز؛د. فریادهایی که از دیوارهای بتونی زندان، راهی به خارج پیدا نمی­کند، و تنها موجب تفریح زندانبانانش، و آزار دیگر منتظران اعدام می­شود؛ چندین سال حبس، در سلول «صف مرگ»، بیماری روانی «ران» ر،ا تشدید می­کند، و چون بیمار روانی را نمی­توان اعدام کرد، پس قانون، ناچار می­شود، اجازه بستری­ شدن وی را در کلینک بیماران روانی، صادر کند مکانی وحشتناک، که تنها از دید شخصی که سال­ها در سلولی تاریک، محبوس و در انتظار مرگ بوده، جایی امن و خوب جلوه میکند؛ شانس و تصادف، اینبار به او روی خوش نشان میدهد، و یکی از برگه­ای درخواست تجدیدنظر در حکم اعدام «ران»، توجه قاضی با تجربه ­ای را جلب می­کند؛ قاضی پس از مطالعه و پژوهش درباره ­ی پرونده، حکم برگزاری دادگاه دیگری را صادر، و می­نویسد «بنابراین خدای متعال به دادمان برسد، اگر در این سرزمین بزرگ و وسیع، تا سرمان را به سوی دیگری بچرخانیم، مردانی که محکوم به مجازات به مرگ شده­ اند، به اتاق مجازات می­روند، در حالیکه حتی از یک محاکمه عادلانه و منصفانه نیز، برخوردار نگردیده ­اند، و این رخداد در همین پرونده بخصوص نیز، نزدیک بود روی دهد.»؛ دادگاه برگزار می­شود؛ علم ژنتیک، و آزمایش دی.ان.ا اجازه­ ی هیچ بی­عدالتی را به کسی نمی­دهند، و «ران» بی­گناه اعلام شده، و پس از دوازده سال آزاد می­شود؛ در حالیکه هیچ­کس از او پوزش نخواسته، و اظهار پشیمانی و ندامت نکرده، زیرا هیچکس آنقدر جوانمرد، و شجاع نبوده، تا اظهار تاسفی صادقانه ابراز دارد؛ هیچ­کس از او خداحافظی نکرد؛ هیچ­کس از او دلجویی نکرد؛ فقط گفتند: «گورت را از اینجا گم کن و برو»؛ و سپس گفتند: «وقتی رفتی سر و صدای زیادی هم به راه نینداز.»؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 20/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  6. 5 out of 5

    W

    This is John Grisham's first work of non-fiction. It is the story of Ron Williamson,a minor league baseball player who had dreams of playing in the major league. His life didn't go according to plan. Leaving his baseball career,he came back home to a life of drink,drugs and womanizing. When a waitress was murdered,he alongwith another man was arrested. He would go on to spend eleven years on death row,before being reprieved. It is the story of one man but is also a reminder of how many innocent peo This is John Grisham's first work of non-fiction. It is the story of Ron Williamson,a minor league baseball player who had dreams of playing in the major league. His life didn't go according to plan. Leaving his baseball career,he came back home to a life of drink,drugs and womanizing. When a waitress was murdered,he alongwith another man was arrested. He would go on to spend eleven years on death row,before being reprieved. It is the story of one man but is also a reminder of how many innocent people pay the penalty for crimes they did not commit. Grisham tells the story with empathy and compassion. However,there is way too much detail about Williamson's life. At times it gets boring. As it is a work of non-fiction,it also made me wonder if Grisham's research is entirely accurate.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I preface this review by saying that John Grisham is one of my favorite authors of all time. Despite that, this was possible the worst book I have ever forced myself to finish. I finished it only because it was a Grisham novel, but it was downright awful. It is my understanding that this was Grisham’s first non-fiction book. It is his research and retelling of a man who is wrongly convicted of murder and put on death row. The book reads like a poorly written legal memo with insane amounts of unn I preface this review by saying that John Grisham is one of my favorite authors of all time. Despite that, this was possible the worst book I have ever forced myself to finish. I finished it only because it was a Grisham novel, but it was downright awful. It is my understanding that this was Grisham’s first non-fiction book. It is his research and retelling of a man who is wrongly convicted of murder and put on death row. The book reads like a poorly written legal memo with insane amounts of unnecessary detail. I was utterly disappointed and would warn anyone who loves Grisham not to read this book because it may ruin your opinion of a great author.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karl Jorgenson

    Grisham's first true-crime book is better, in many ways, than his fiction. And the characters, all real, are more unbelievable. The cops, the prosecutors, the judges, the jailers, the doctors, the scientists, and everybody else shirked their duty, bent the rules, and generally framed five innocent men for three murders. A grisly, depressing tale. To be fair, it begins with a police-created confession, editing the dream of a mentally disturbed man to fit the desired facts. Once the confession was Grisham's first true-crime book is better, in many ways, than his fiction. And the characters, all real, are more unbelievable. The cops, the prosecutors, the judges, the jailers, the doctors, the scientists, and everybody else shirked their duty, bent the rules, and generally framed five innocent men for three murders. A grisly, depressing tale. To be fair, it begins with a police-created confession, editing the dream of a mentally disturbed man to fit the desired facts. Once the confession was in the record, everybody else gives themselves license to fix the results--'oh, he confessed, so this fingerprint must be his.' All the manufactured evidence springs from this first abuse of the cops. This story is so much more disturbing than fiction: these murders are real, and the destruction of five innocent lives is just as real. Grisham mostly keeps an even, neutral tone, but he can't resist a few pokes at these lazy charlatans who pretend to work for justice in Oklahoma.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Vellacott

    I always feel a little guilty when starting a Grisham book as I know I will still be reading ten hours later...but at least this one is a true story so I feel like I learned something. The author is trying to shine a light on potential miscarriages of justice in America specifically the small town of Ada, Oklahoma--those in prison and on death row who really shouldn't be there. They end up there for all manner of reasons; corrupt cops, ambitious prosecutors, judges who are too focused on retireme I always feel a little guilty when starting a Grisham book as I know I will still be reading ten hours later...but at least this one is a true story so I feel like I learned something. The author is trying to shine a light on potential miscarriages of justice in America specifically the small town of Ada, Oklahoma--those in prison and on death row who really shouldn't be there. They end up there for all manner of reasons; corrupt cops, ambitious prosecutors, judges who are too focused on retirement or reputation, snitches willing to lie on oath, or maybe even innocent people just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. At least one of the men wrongly convicted believed that his coerced confession wouldn't matter because the police would get to the truth. He had placed his faith in the criminal justice system, it let him down. The story is sad but believable. As always, it is a well written account that kept me reading until the last page. Being non-fiction, it is also well researched--the author spent a lot of time with many of those involved in these cases and investigated the culture of small town Oklahoma. The story focuses on two men convicted of the rape and murder of a 21 year old waitress in 1982. The cases are linked to other possible innocents in jail. All of the cases covered are compelling. I hope that some progress is being made on those who still languish in prison. I always find Grisham's stance on faith issues a little confusing. He often includes strong Gospel statements referring to salvation by faith in Jesus in his books and refers to himself as a Christian. However, he also states that his faith is a private matter that he keeps to himself. How can a real Christian think it is okay to keep their faith to themself, especially one with the huge platform that he has? This book has only a little bad language. There is some violence and some graphic details of the crime but it is factual rather than sensational. There are also some details about the sexual aspects of the crime but again it is factual. I enjoy Grisham's books and will no doubt read more of them and probably re-read those that I have read in the past. To find a non-fiction book by Grisham was a nice surprise and I'm glad I read it. I hope that one day Grisham will take a clearer public stand on faith issues, choosing God over popularity/success...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bren

    This is John Grisham's first Non Ficiion. It focuses on a young athlete wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit. It is a scathing look at our criminal justice system and a story of sadness, tragedy and gross incompetence. It is also quite long and took me a great deal of time to finish but is very well written. I always love Grisham's work and this book, although tough to follow at times and very tragic, is poignant because of its reality. Unlike the characters in Grisam's fiction novels, This is John Grisham's first Non Ficiion. It focuses on a young athlete wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit. It is a scathing look at our criminal justice system and a story of sadness, tragedy and gross incompetence. It is also quite long and took me a great deal of time to finish but is very well written. I always love Grisham's work and this book, although tough to follow at times and very tragic, is poignant because of its reality. Unlike the characters in Grisam's fiction novels, of which there are many, this actually happened. A searing and disturbing read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    So. I finished this book late last night, and since then, I've been pondering what I was going to write in this review. How did I feel about this book? I still don't know. On the one hand, I feel like it should get a high rating from me for telling the story of how fucked up Oklahoma's justice system was, and how unrepentantly it stole years, and lives, from innocent men. For seemingly no reason. I feel like it should get all the stars for bestselling author John Grisham to have gotten that stor So. I finished this book late last night, and since then, I've been pondering what I was going to write in this review. How did I feel about this book? I still don't know. On the one hand, I feel like it should get a high rating from me for telling the story of how fucked up Oklahoma's justice system was, and how unrepentantly it stole years, and lives, from innocent men. For seemingly no reason. I feel like it should get all the stars for bestselling author John Grisham to have gotten that story the kind of attention it deserves, and all the light shined on it that can be. But at the same time, I have read many other bestselling author John Grisham books, and this was arguably not one of his best written. I have read quite a few other true crime books, and this was not one of the best written of those either. It jumped around between timelines and people, could have used a bit more structure as far as the chapters and sections went, probably could have used a timeline and a "character list" to help track the plethora of lawyers, inmates, police, etc all traipsing around the story. But my main issue with this is that it read like a highschool report, with all of the immature snark one would expect when the irritated teenager didn't really care for the subject they were assigned. And, granted, derision was warranted when it came to the "investigation" and the prosecutor, and the judge who let this travesty of a trial proceed, and the judges who upheld it on appeal, and all the other people and systems that failed or were trampled on along the way to get a conviction, with no evidence at all. But, the issue that I take with it is that it no longer feels like reporting and journalism, it feels like propaganda. "Look how evil cruel the prosecution was" vs "this is what happened and this is why that SHOULDN'T have happened and this was how it was wrong." I expected better from Grisham. He used to be a lawyer, and he still IS a writer, so he should be an expert at objectively explaining the facts of the case, the law and why it matters and, in this case, how the system failed these men, and do so with skill. Let the reader handle the anger and derision on behalf of these guys - you just present the facts for them. Or if you MUST include it, put it in your intro or author notes or something. Also, it annoyed me that this was called "The Innocent Man" as though only one person had their life ruined. There were two innocent men convicted of this murder. In addition to that, two OTHER presumably innocent men were convicted in Ada, on no evidence, without even a body, of abduction and murder of another woman. And several other men were mentioned with similar stories of wrongful conviction - but Grisham decided to title this in the singular, as though the other men weren't innocent victims of injustice as well. All that being said, it wasn't a bad book. I read it pretty quickly, though that was likely more because I wanted to know if they were going to be freed and get justice... I needed to know what would happen. All in all, I think this book had serious flaws, but it was a story that needed telling, and so I'm not sorry it was written. This kind of thing happens all the time, still, though hopefully not QUITE so blatantly. Prosecutors are supposed to work for the people, let's not forget. If they are more concerned with their conviction rate than their accuracy, that's a problem we should all be concerned about. Not just because it could happen to anyone to be wrongfully accused and convicted - but also because that leaves real perpetrator(s) free. Free to rape, or murder, or assault or whatever, again. We should all be concerned with making sure that convictions are based on solid evidence and truth, not a desire for a quick conviction statistic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    S.P. Aruna

    It should be noted that this book should be titled "The Innocent MEN," since it describes 2 cases, each involving 2 men, 4 men altogether. We have the all too common and dastardly scenario of the DA's office and local police conspiring to win the case at all costs, fudging, manipulating, cheating, and tampering state's evidence, regardless of truth and justice. But for me, such behavior on the part of law enforcement authorities is not the shocking aspect of these tragic chronicles, but the deci It should be noted that this book should be titled "The Innocent MEN," since it describes 2 cases, each involving 2 men, 4 men altogether. We have the all too common and dastardly scenario of the DA's office and local police conspiring to win the case at all costs, fudging, manipulating, cheating, and tampering state's evidence, regardless of truth and justice. But for me, such behavior on the part of law enforcement authorities is not the shocking aspect of these tragic chronicles, but the decisions made by the juries which led to the convictions. The jury of your peers is supposed to be the strength of the US justice system, and here we see the horrible consequences when it fails to do its job. Unfortunately, this element was not stressed enough in the book. It is apparent that the residents of this locale, in this case the rural town of Ada in the conservative state of Oklahoma, were unduly influenced by biblical notions of vengeful justice, preventing them from conducting a more impartial consideration of the reasonable doubt that was present in all of these cases. Of course, the significance of these trials is bolstered by the fact that they were capital murder cases, with the death penalty looming in the background, and as any true Grisham fan knows, capital punishment is one of the issues that disturbs Mr. Grisham (see The Chamber), and which no doubt served as the main inspiration for him to get these stories out there. I also learned of the heroic attempts of defense lawyer Barry Scheck, founder and chief advocate of the "Innocence Project," dedicated to the utilization of DNA evidence as a means to exculpate individuals of crimes for which they were wrongfully convicted (362 wrongful convictions overturned as of 2019). Apparently Mr. Scheck was not just a showboating attorney in the O.J. Simpson trial. This book should be required reading for all secondary schools, students that someday will form the crop of potential future jurors.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    A non fiction book from John Grisham published 2006 This is such an unbelievable story it’s hard comprehend that it’s NOT a work of fiction. The expression ‘fact is stranger than fiction’ has never rung truer than what lies between these pages. The title is a bit of a misnomer because it’s the story of not one but four young men. Three get sent to prison for life whilst the fourth gets sentenced to death by lethal injection. In the small town of Ada Oklahoma in 1982 a cocktail waitress by the name D A non fiction book from John Grisham published 2006 This is such an unbelievable story it’s hard comprehend that it’s NOT a work of fiction. The expression ‘fact is stranger than fiction’ has never rung truer than what lies between these pages. The title is a bit of a misnomer because it’s the story of not one but four young men. Three get sent to prison for life whilst the fourth gets sentenced to death by lethal injection. In the small town of Ada Oklahoma in 1982 a cocktail waitress by the name Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered. Two young men both with a reputation for carousing were brought to the police station for questioning. Going on nothing but gut instinct the police constructed a case against both men. No one in law enforcement from the police to the prosecuting attorney were in the least bit interested in guilt or innocence all they wanted was for the case to be closed. Ron Williamson, the young man who was given the death penalty, spent 11 years on death row where his health both physical and mental deteriorated dramatically. At one point he was only five days away from being executed when a last minute stay of execution was grated. What happened to these young men is beyond belief and makes you question the infallibility of the justice system. Interesting to note that not long after the publication of this book a defamation case was brought against John Grisham and his publishers by none other than Ada police and the prosecuting attorney. The case was thrown out of court by the presiding judge. An enthralling 4 star read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    Very moving account of the real life murder of a young woman in Ada, Oklahoma in 1982 and the subsequent wrongful conviction of two men who weren't exonerated with DNA evidence until 1999. Very moving account of the real life murder of a young woman in Ada, Oklahoma in 1982 and the subsequent wrongful conviction of two men who weren't exonerated with DNA evidence until 1999.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nenette

    The pull of this story is the fact that it is not fiction. The book was tagged as something every American should read…..but this is not happening only across the USA. It is a very sad fact that applies globally. After I’ve read this, I am left with a couple of thoughts about law enforcement personnel who would go to extreme measures to solve a case even at the expense of prosecuting the non-guilty – can they really be that bad to the core, or are they just so much in a hurry to resolve a case, The pull of this story is the fact that it is not fiction. The book was tagged as something every American should read…..but this is not happening only across the USA. It is a very sad fact that applies globally. After I’ve read this, I am left with a couple of thoughts about law enforcement personnel who would go to extreme measures to solve a case even at the expense of prosecuting the non-guilty – can they really be that bad to the core, or are they just so much in a hurry to resolve a case, that even a half-baked investigation will do? These questions I ask are not only for the ones doing the investigation; it transcends to the prosecution, to the highest court, and even to the defense lawyers as well – it’s the whole system. In the end, Ron got to really rest, and I pray that he was really able to do just that...For Dennis Fritz, I am glad that he was able to bounce back.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Smith

    Started off slow but once half way through it picked up. Different set up for John grisham.

  17. 4 out of 5

    babyhippoface

    If you're going to read this, don't stop there. Go online and read Bill Petersen's account as well. It's only fair. And after all, "fair" is what this book is all about, right?http://www.billpetersondistrictattorn... The Innocent Man alternates between a compelling account of a murder investigation and a tedious account of a man's stupidity/petty criminal activity/insanity. I had great respect for John Grisham until I read both this book and responses to the book by Ada prosecutor Bill Petersen, If you're going to read this, don't stop there. Go online and read Bill Petersen's account as well. It's only fair. And after all, "fair" is what this book is all about, right?http://www.billpetersondistrictattorn... The Innocent Man alternates between a compelling account of a murder investigation and a tedious account of a man's stupidity/petty criminal activity/insanity. I had great respect for John Grisham until I read both this book and responses to the book by Ada prosecutor Bill Petersen, who has legal documents to back up his claims that Grisham ignored key facts in the case. I assume he did this to make his book more compelling, but I felt he was dishonest in his portrayal of the "facts", and because of that this book isn't entirely "non-fiction". I still respect Grisham's writing ability, and will continue to enjoy his crime/law novels, but I honestly feel he unjustifiably did a great disservice to Petersen and the other investigators on the case in order to strengthen his argument that Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were railroaded by corrupt officials. Despite Grisham's claims in the novel, and while there was indeed an injustice done to Williamson and Fritz, the facts in the case show that they were not viciously prosecuted by officials who refused to see the truth. It's just not true.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Henry Ozogula

    This type of work is necessary so that the world at large can learn how sick the legal system can be! (specifically America in this work; how much more elsewhere). I am reminded of an acquaintance of mine here in west Africa who spent over half a year in jail just because he was ‘suspected’ of stealing something he knew nothing about! Reading this book, the mind boggles!! How can kids eg have their whole lives ruined – spent in jail/death row after being forced and coerced to confess to crimes t This type of work is necessary so that the world at large can learn how sick the legal system can be! (specifically America in this work; how much more elsewhere). I am reminded of an acquaintance of mine here in west Africa who spent over half a year in jail just because he was ‘suspected’ of stealing something he knew nothing about! Reading this book, the mind boggles!! How can kids eg have their whole lives ruined – spent in jail/death row after being forced and coerced to confess to crimes they know nothing about? How many countless ‘criminals’ have been killed or sentenced to life imprisonment before DNA evidence unequivocally exonorated them later on? What price the life of hapless denizens when law enforcement agents are bent on convicting them at all costs? Such is the case here with the spotlight brilliantly beamed on the life – the vicissitudes - of an Innocent Man who nevertheless suffered horribly, accused of a heinous crime that he did not commit. And what about his long-suffering (pious) Mother, and Sisters? What about their vicarious and direct suffering? And yet through it all, the stigma of being accused and CONVICTED of (a) crime would always be there with members of the community, even relatives, shunning and snubbing such people even long after they have been exonerated. It is so sad. Why is the world often so unfair?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen & Gerard

    This is a very disturbing nonfiction book about our judicial system, a heinous crime and a wasted life. It showed how several innocent men were convicted of murder and that in reality, one is really guilty until proven innocent rather than the other way around. It is a very sad documentary about a talented high school athlete who really ruined his life with drinking, drugs and got framed for murder, and developed mental and physical illness. It's unbelievable how these innocent men spent 12 year This is a very disturbing nonfiction book about our judicial system, a heinous crime and a wasted life. It showed how several innocent men were convicted of murder and that in reality, one is really guilty until proven innocent rather than the other way around. It is a very sad documentary about a talented high school athlete who really ruined his life with drinking, drugs and got framed for murder, and developed mental and physical illness. It's unbelievable how these innocent men spent 12 years in prison while the appeals courts kept upholding the verdict in spite of all the bungling and lack of evidence in the first trial. The main thing I learned from it is if you ever get brought in for questioning by the police, don't answer any questions without an attorney present, even if you are innocent and have nothing to hide! The fact that this really happened makes horrific. I recommend this to anyone interested in legal thrillers, the justice system, or prison life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lili Marcus

    This is Non-fiction. A story of two men who were wrongfully convicted of murder and rape in Oklahoma. Though a big part of the story was focused on Ron Williamson, once a dreamer of becoming a Baseball star but due to several reasons, his dream became impossible. He then became friends with Dennis Fritz and the two of them became drinking/partying buddies. And later they both became convicted for the murder and rape of a young woman named, Debbie Carter. Ron was even given the death Penalty and This is Non-fiction. A story of two men who were wrongfully convicted of murder and rape in Oklahoma. Though a big part of the story was focused on Ron Williamson, once a dreamer of becoming a Baseball star but due to several reasons, his dream became impossible. He then became friends with Dennis Fritz and the two of them became drinking/partying buddies. And later they both became convicted for the murder and rape of a young woman named, Debbie Carter. Ron was even given the death Penalty and Dennis a life sentence. Years later, they were finally cleared, and proven innocent. Aside from Grisham's latest two books, this is the only book of his that I haven't read before now for the sole reason that it's a Non-fiction. I used to not read Non-fiction. I must admit, I was kind of put off because of the writing. It isn't the usual Grisham's style that I've grown to love but I can't deny the fact that he really did a good job narrating every stages of Ron's life making the reader more connected to Ron. And care for him. I think that's one of the top reasons why Grisham wrote this book, for us to care about Ron. Still it took me a month to finish this book. Why? Because  Ron has many mental issues and so it was hard for me to keep going. I hated the fact that Ron, instead of being treated was forced to go to prison making his conditions worse. He was too depressed, for God's sake. Anyway, though very informative, I found this story very sad and heartbreaking. And maybe I was mad few times while reading and not becaus eof the writer, Grisham merely told us the story, but because of what's happening to Ron. I really, truly cared for him.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    This not what I expected? The NETFLIX “documentary” seemed slow, it is a “documentary” but I expected more “drama” like a typical Grisham movie....? IMDb - The Innocent Man review Netflix - The Innocent Man Trailer The True Story Behind The Innocent Man's Most Gruesome Murder - website link - 12/14/2018 This not what I expected? The NETFLIX “documentary” seemed slow, it is a “documentary” but I expected more “drama” like a typical Grisham movie....? IMDb - The Innocent Man review Netflix - The Innocent Man Trailer The True Story Behind The Innocent Man's Most Gruesome Murder - website link - 12/14/2018

  22. 4 out of 5

    Apoorva Ranade

    A chilling tale of injustice and the troubles faced by a wrongfully accused man. It also highlights the problems faced by a mentally ill man who society is unable to deal with or help.

  23. 5 out of 5

    ALLEN

    John Grisham set aside his usual fiction and wrote this nonfiction novel (2006) about Ron Williamson, a former baseball player who returned to his home town of Ada, Oklahoma. Already stigmatized as the town "burnout," once Williamson was accused of murder there seemed to be no getting out of it, though the evidence for the crime was sketchy at best. While this book lacks the homeric intensity of Grisham's best novels, it has a lot to say about how law enforcement can be used -- and misused -- to John Grisham set aside his usual fiction and wrote this nonfiction novel (2006) about Ron Williamson, a former baseball player who returned to his home town of Ada, Oklahoma. Already stigmatized as the town "burnout," once Williamson was accused of murder there seemed to be no getting out of it, though the evidence for the crime was sketchy at best. While this book lacks the homeric intensity of Grisham's best novels, it has a lot to say about how law enforcement can be used -- and misused -- to indict and persecute those whose chief sin seems to have been an ability to serve as a convenient scapegoat. Those of us who have seen documentaries and news reports about Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, in central Wisconsin will see the same sorry process at work in small-town Oklahoma. What, if anything, can be done about it? This isn't the first time little Ada, Oklahoma has attracted notoriety. If this topic and locale interest you, consider The Dreams of Ada by Robert Mayer (1987), which tells very much the same story.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tim The Enchanter

    The best Grisham novel in years. As a criminal defense lawyer myself, I am interested in reading of miscarriages of justice. My father in-law on the other hand, is a retired police officer and he simply found the book to be distasteful. In my practice I have found that most people do not believe that people can be wrongfully convicted or that crown attorneys (district attorneys in the us) or police officers may press matters through the system for reasons that are not related to justice. This wo The best Grisham novel in years. As a criminal defense lawyer myself, I am interested in reading of miscarriages of justice. My father in-law on the other hand, is a retired police officer and he simply found the book to be distasteful. In my practice I have found that most people do not believe that people can be wrongfully convicted or that crown attorneys (district attorneys in the us) or police officers may press matters through the system for reasons that are not related to justice. This work is certainly worth a read as it rings with truth.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    A true story by John Grisham. Although I did enjoy this book I felt it required editing by approximately 100 pages to avoid the tedious parts. A very disturbing true story that is written well by John Grisham in the main but rambles on too much at times with unnecessary details and sub plots. I feel pretty sure that given a good edit I would have enjoyed this far more and awarded a higher rating.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I preferred this (and Time to Kill) because he deviated from his usual "prescriptive" writing. I preferred this (and Time to Kill) because he deviated from his usual "prescriptive" writing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Willis

    Man, was this a disturbing true story. It was so depressing. I felt so bad for all the people involved in this. I was constantly thinking to myself that this could not possibly happen, but it did! It is very hard to believe that there were no checks and balances in the system and that the people involved in this are (or were at the time it was published) still working in the system. I know hindsight is 20/20, but even in the end, the people who caused this to happen never took responsibility or ev Man, was this a disturbing true story. It was so depressing. I felt so bad for all the people involved in this. I was constantly thinking to myself that this could not possibly happen, but it did! It is very hard to believe that there were no checks and balances in the system and that the people involved in this are (or were at the time it was published) still working in the system. I know hindsight is 20/20, but even in the end, the people who caused this to happen never took responsibility or even apologized. The arrogance and egos in this small town are disgusting. This book ended with me feeling sickened. Nothing redeeming happened here.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    It is obvious from the title of the book whose side the author is on here. And it is hard not to be on the side of the wrongly convicted. I just wish that the author had taken the approach of presenting both sides of the story rather turning it into a soapbox against the wrongdoers - i.e. the Prosecutors, Police and Prison Staff. It would have brought better balance and made the book more respectable in telling this very important story. In the early '80's in Oklahoma a young woman is raped and m It is obvious from the title of the book whose side the author is on here. And it is hard not to be on the side of the wrongly convicted. I just wish that the author had taken the approach of presenting both sides of the story rather turning it into a soapbox against the wrongdoers - i.e. the Prosecutors, Police and Prison Staff. It would have brought better balance and made the book more respectable in telling this very important story. In the early '80's in Oklahoma a young woman is raped and murdered in her own home. Though there is quite a bit of physical evidence, the list of suspects become a challenge to the local authorities. Out of backlog, presumption and frustration, the local authorities begin to find a way to build a case against two local men whom they feel circumstantially fit the bill. After years of anger and suspicion the men are finally arrested, tried and convicted. One is sent to Death Row and the other for Life. This is not a story of getting into the mind of a killer. Though it could have been - very little was spent on that topic oddly enough. I guess the point was to show how it is to be in the mind of the wrongly convicted. And even though Grisham did not have the ability to interview his subject due to his death, he did build a sad tale from the wealth of information provided from this man's family, friends and legal team. What struck me even more than the injustice from a criminal standpoint was the broken mental health system in this country. I scratched my head consistently wondering what on earth this man had to do or where he had to be in order to get treatment. He never really did. And to me that was the saddest part about it. Grisham lays out all of the facts and how they were overlooked, ignored or created from fiction. But his lack of personal interviews with those at fault mean that he had to presume their motivation, sentiments and character. And that is where the credibility begins to weaken for me in this piece of non-fiction. There are always two sides to every story, and I believe that Grisham wanted to portray them - I just wish I could have heard from both directly. I want to know how the Prosecutor could be so blind, so arrogant, so horrifying. I want to know how he got to the position of power that he holds and what motivated him. I want to see for myself the man he is outside of his job and how this murder effected his personal life. I don't want Grisham to tell me what to think - I want to come to that conclusion myself. I guess what I want is In Cold Blood. That's a tough standard for comparison.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    It's unlikely I would ever give 5 stars to non-fiction. This was very good, and, if you really like non-fiction, you might rate it higher. It is the story, in this one case, but perhaps multiple occasions in this location, of blind stubborness and total incompetence throughout the criminal justice system. The police, instead of using evidence to solve the crime, decided on the perpetrator(s), and then went about constructing evidence to prove them guilty. The attorneys and the judge were not inte It's unlikely I would ever give 5 stars to non-fiction. This was very good, and, if you really like non-fiction, you might rate it higher. It is the story, in this one case, but perhaps multiple occasions in this location, of blind stubborness and total incompetence throughout the criminal justice system. The police, instead of using evidence to solve the crime, decided on the perpetrator(s), and then went about constructing evidence to prove them guilty. The attorneys and the judge were not interested in really looking at the accused and the evidence, and the jury rubber stamped it all so those bad men couldn't hurt anyone else. I do not believe this is the way our justice system usually works, but I am not naive enough to think this is an isolated case. It happens, and it happens more often than we'd like. Perhaps not as good as Grisham gets, but certainly he is at the top of the field of legal thrillers and his strength and experience comes through here.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eric Althoff

    This is one the best books I have EVER read! Like Stephen King, John Grisham is often labeled as a pop hack, but "The Firm" being one of my other favorite books, I will be his first defender, as one writer admiring another who combines his legal expertise with a thoroughly natural and maturely developed narrative voice. Grisham is both expert and storyteller, and he also happens to sell a helluva lot of books (and for good reason). "The Innocent Man" is the true crime tale of a murder in small-to This is one the best books I have EVER read! Like Stephen King, John Grisham is often labeled as a pop hack, but "The Firm" being one of my other favorite books, I will be his first defender, as one writer admiring another who combines his legal expertise with a thoroughly natural and maturely developed narrative voice. Grisham is both expert and storyteller, and he also happens to sell a helluva lot of books (and for good reason). "The Innocent Man" is the true crime tale of a murder in small-town Oklahoma. With no solid leads, the cops basically decide they will make the evidence fit the bill for a local drifter/alcoholic/manic-depressive/schizophrenic named Ronnie. Once a promising baseball player (Ronnie was touted as being "the next great one from Oklahoma"--the first being Mickey Mantle), Ronnie's life soon devolved into vagrancy, poverty, frequent stints in prison and mental hospitals and psychotic episodes. Then, impossibly, a second murder happens in Ada, again with no solid leads and little evidence. Grisham recounts, in excruciating and thoroughly researched detail, how the cops and prosecutors bungled the cases, and how not one, not two, not three, but FOUR people were wrongly convicted for two different murders and sent to death row (two of whom remain there still, despite overwhelmingly evidence that their "confessions" were both forced and implausible). This is grim stuff, but the book is never dull, and Grisham keeps the narrative moving at a brisk clip--daring the reader to not find out what happened next. He interweaves his reporting with explanations of the relevant laws, precedents and statutes that were applied (or, more often, misapplied) during the trials and appeals, thus offering the layman a friendly, easier understanding of due process and how it can be too easily corrupted. "The Innocent Man" is a gripping, ennervating, fascinating, and ultimately redemptive look at the inside of American jurisprudence, and how quickly and disastrously wrong it can go--and how it is never too late to put things to rights.

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