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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Innocent Man
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change
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on December 4, 2012
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, Oklahoma. This incredible story hinges on terrible police work, an incredibly blind-sighted (if not wrongly intended) prosecution, the repeated mistakes of a legal system that often seems to simply go through motions when it should be questioning itself, some integrity and the scientific and legal revelation that was DNA analysis. A harrowing story that will keep you turning pages well into the night.

Grisham mentions in several interviews that this was perhaps one of the more difficult books he has written simply because he needed to work much harder to check facts and verify information. As it deals with fairly recent events, the book has attracted quite a bit of media attention and the response of several prominent actors, namely the Ada District Attorney who has launched a self-published website to respond to some of the insinuations that are made about him and it is indeed plausible that in spite of Grisham's work, some of the information is presented in slanted ways. Nevertheless, I found myself puzzled and troubled by the potential errors of the legal system: How can the system get so wrapped up in itself to allow individuals who cannot be guilty to be sentenced to death? The book details some of the rubber stamping that goes on in the courts by the different courts and attorneys who refuse to question judgements made at other levels and makes the system look like a great monster that one is powerless to address properly. After reading this Grisham, you don't want to be falsely accused, you are grateful for DNA analysis, and you wonder how it too can be wrongly or poorly misused.
5 people found this helpful
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on September 27, 2016
A true, but almost unbelievable story. Hard to believe that such a thing could happen in this society. But close-minded police officers and prosecution attorneys caused this injustice to a totally innocent man almost costing him his life. A little different subject than John Grisham usually writes about but highly worth reading.
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on March 14, 2008
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. In fact, it's not even over as at least 2 probably innocent men are still in jail today due to the abuses and frankly criminal investigations and prosecutions perpetrated in this town and county. And you know what the truly horrific fact is: many of the people who perpetrated this heinous injustice remain in the positions that allowed this!

As for the book, it reads like a Grisham novel. It's fast paced, easy to read but with lots of information and so engrossing that you can't put it down. Yes, you know who the real killer is or who is innocent almost right from the start but in no way does that detract from the story. As a family physician, I found the treatment of Williamson and the flagrant ignoring of his illness by most who should have known better to be awful.

Some reviewers have commented that this book seems slanted against the police. Well, duh! Grisham has researched this well and despite having a hard job to do, the police, and prosecution, in this case deserve to be slanted against. They did everything wrong and even when presented with evidence that should have changed the course of the investigation, persisted with the one they were on.

Overall, this is a very enlightening book, a good and easy read, quite thought-provoking and will get one thinking about the death penalty and its uses. Oh, and remember, unlike all Grisham's other works, this is a book of non-fiction, not a novel. It appears a few reviewers didn't realize that. As a true story, that makes it even more horrific.
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on July 15, 2016
Couldn't put it down, absolutely fascinating! I live in Canada where the legal system is entirely different. Hard to believe what
was happening in the book, but my American relatives tell me it can happen in some towns and States. Now, on to the next
Grisham book!
2 people found this helpful
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on January 9, 2016
Well written book regarding a sympathetic character. A small town high school Baseball star from a good family. Wrongly accused and shocking abuse of power by both police, lawyers and even judges. Once you pick book up it's hard to put down. The only negative is that it's a sad story and and fairly common in every state in the US.A good reason not to have the death penalty.
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on May 24, 2017
For some reason Grisham's writing in this doesn't flow like his other stories. Perhaps I just don't have an appreciation for true crime but this book doesn't draw me in like his others.
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on May 7, 2016
This was an eye opener. I had no idea that it was possible for an innocent man to be convicted of a crime that he did not commit. I was very disappointed in the judicial system in America.
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on September 2, 2017
This an excellent but shocking book I would not have believed that this could be a true story. As with most John Grisham books, the story grabs your attention right from the beginning. It's impossible to put down, and almost as impossible to believe.
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on October 9, 2016
If this wasn't a true story, you'd think it was too fantastic to be believable. Crooked cops, crooked lawyers, lying friends and neighbours. The main character deserved much better treatment in a supposed civilized society.
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on November 30, 2016
Unbelievable scenario! It shows the bankruptcy of the judicial system even if only partly true!!!!
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