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The Innocent Man (Limited Edition): Murder and Injustice in a Small Town [Hardcover]

John Grisham
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 5 2006

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.


From the Hardcover edition.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Grisham's first work of nonfiction focuses on the tragedy of Ron Williamson, a baseball hero from a small town in Oklahoma who winds up a dissolute, mentally unstable Major League washout railroaded onto death row for a hometown rape and murder he did not commit. Judging by this author-approved abridgment, Grisham has chosen to present Williamson's painful story (and that of his equally innocent "co-conspirator," Dennis Fritz) as straightforward journalism, eschewing the more familiar "nonfiction novel" approach with its reconstructed dialogues and other adjustments for dramatic purpose. This has resulted in a book that, while it includes such intriguing elements as murder, rape, detection and judicial injustice, consists primarily of objective reportage, albeit shaded by the now-proven fact of Williamson's innocence. The absence of dialogue or character point of view could make for a rather bland audio. Boutsikaris avoids that by reverting to what might be called old-fashioned round-the-campfire storytelling, treating the lengthy exposition to vocal interpretations, subtle and substantial. He narrates the events leading up to the 1982 rape and murder of a young cocktail waitress with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity, moving on to astonishment at the prosecution's use of deceit and false testimony to convict Williamson and Fritz and, eventually, elation at the exoneration of the two innocent men. Throughout, he maintains an appealing conversational tone, an effect made all the more remarkable by the book's nearly total absence of conversation.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A gritty, harrowing, true-crime story.” —Time

“A triumph.” —Seattle Times

“Grisham has crafted a legal thriller every bit as suspenseful and fast-paced as his best-selling fiction.” —Boston Globe


From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Innocents abroad Nov. 27 2006
Format:Hardcover
Normally one to stick with a current craze or bestseller such as "The Time Traveler's Wife," or McCrae's "Katzenjammer" I instead opted for Grisham's latest. This was a nice change of pace. Summoning upon his past successes, Grisham crafts a part thriller, part atmospheric literary classic, and part law firm book, throwing in some baseball and a host of believable and interesting characters. The end result is a fantastic read that I could recommend for those of all ages.

This is Grisham's first non fiction book, and I really didn't know what to expect. It is a true story, based on Ron Williamson's experiences, and it exposes the underbelly of crime, corruption, and police antics. In some ways a muckracking novel, the way Sinclair Lewis's books are.

Also recommended MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too much for a book April 27 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Well, this story we all agree is terrible, a young man who had a single dream, failed to achieve it, and collapsed and found himself in the center of a crime he didn't commit, in a utopia were fairness is the rule it shouldn't happen, certainly the character has suffered a lot, and the book faithfully exposes the legal system in that area to an unprecedented degree, it shows how the truth can and in many times is twisted, it has happened before and keeps happening again and on a wider scale internationally as well!

It is great to have a dream to pursue, but we must face the fact and move on when we can't achieve that dream sometimes, such attitude requires a balanced strong person, a thing our main character clearly lacked.

Don't get me wrong, when a person with such a difficult personality lives such a load life style, where a good time of the day and night for all it matters is spent in the places the main character used to hang out in, with such habits as mentioned in the book and in details, well you are bound to get into a lot of trouble and it will be more and more difficult for people to help you, especially if one keeps behaving in the way described, if one keeps scaring friends away. Why was this guy out of hundreds chosen for the crime?, yes the guys in the police department were certainly not the best, but with all the issues the main character had and kept having time and time again, he became an irresistible bait.

I think the story is certainly worth telling, and every one of us will extract different lessons, it is probably not as much worth being published, but probably being presented on a TV show like 60min. I sometimes found it hard to sympathize with the main character, or to be surprised with the mishaps he faced.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is a true story you need to know about! July 26 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are many, many arguments on both sides of the capital punishment issue. But perhaps one of the most powerful arguments against the use of capital punishment is that, every once in a while, the justice system goes seriously off the rails and makes a tragic mistake.

As a young man, Robert Williamson was an exceptionally skilled baseball player. Thinking himself destined for the major leagues, he began to lead a self-indulgent debauched life style that ultimately would lead to nowhere but trouble, self-destruction and severe mental illness. Robert Williamson and his alleged co-conspirator were definitely not nice people. But neither were they rapists.

"The Innocent Man" is the story of the blind, single-minded quest of the Oklahoma judicial system to arrest, imprison and execute a man for the 1982 rape and murder of a cocktail waitress. It was a very near call but, ultimately, Robert Williamson was proven to be innocent and released before his rapidly nearing date with the executioner.

Even those who believe in either the deterrent or the punishment argument on the pro-side of the capital punishment debate will be un-nerved by this near miss of a system gone so badly wrong.

Unfortunately, the writing in "The Innocent Man" is not as compelling as it might have been give the nature of the subject matter. But it is still quite gripping and certainly important enough that every thinking citizen should read it and make themselves aware that this kind of miscarriage of justice can and does happen.

Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Poignant and Compelling Story! May 9 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What would you do if you were suspected by the police of the rape and murder of a young woman? Whom would you turn to if you were convicted of a crime based on circumstantial evidence and shoddy legal tactics? Whoever believes we are all innocent until proven guilty hasn't truly been put to the test.

John Grisham's newest legal masterpiece hits home--and hits hard. Temporarily forgoing his status as a legal thriller novelist, he delves into a non-fiction tale that could be almost anyone's story. Ron Williamson had to rely on officials of a system that was corrupt and desperate, and he paid a terrible price. Twenty years of his life. Haunting, chilling and foreboding, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town gives us a glimpse into the life of a man hounded by police, found guilty because of fraudulent testimony from convicts and sentenced to death row.

Williamson isn't the only man wrongly convicted and sent to prison. Over the years, many cases have been appealed, and with new DNA testing and other evidentiary sciences in place, both Canada and the US have released convicted felons with little more than a "we're sorry". Grisham, a former criminal defense attorney, reveals a world of political power and policing agencies that show very little remorse for getting it wrong. It's hard to imagine that even now there are people waiting on death row or in prisons who are innocent of the crimes of which they have been convicted. Powerful and emotional, this is one book I couldn't put down!

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Great book about how corrupt some people in law enforcement are. Too bad they weren't the ones put in jail sentenced to die!
Published 4 months ago by MMS
5.0 out of 5 stars As Described
Kept their promise and very timely-will do business with you again It is nice that no misrepresentation or surprises were in store
Published 7 months ago by Shiraz Chatur
2.0 out of 5 stars The innocent man
The story was interesting , although it dragged out often
Making it difficult to stay focused on the story line
Published 7 months ago by Wesley
5.0 out of 5 stars alex cross
great book with a great ending was glued to it every day any time I had a chance alex cross is a great series
Published 20 months ago by gerald Hillis
4.0 out of 5 stars Cause for concern
Grisham's talent for writing legal thrillers serves the purpose of detailing the true story of Ron Williamson, a man wrongly accused for the death of a young woman in Ada,... Read more
Published 22 months ago by SnowPharoah
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Horror Story
Forget Chucky or A Nightmare on Elm Street. This is a true horror story. It is amazing how the police and legal system in Ada, OK screwed up and then persecuted innocent men. Read more
Published on March 14 2008 by David W. Wildeboer
4.0 out of 5 stars A story that needs to be told
I'm currently reading The Innocent Man, about two thirds done, loving every page and feel compelled to comment. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2008 by Dan C. Hull
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not about who did it, it's about who didn't do it
I feel obligated to review this book and let John Grisham fans know that this book was a great read. Yes, you know who the real killer is very quickly. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2008 by J. A. Broad
3.0 out of 5 stars Innocent Man by John Grisham
As I read the book it was easy to know who was the real murderer very early in the book. Although this was given away at the beginning of the book I continued to read as I was very... Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2008 by Harleyrider
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed with The Innocent Man
I was very disappointed in this novel as I found the author to be overly opinionated and even sarcastic when referring to the police investigation. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2008 by ahtrvt
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