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Cause for concern
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.