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John Grisham's first work of non-fiction, 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 20 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 jaihouse 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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Like Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, The Innocent Man brings a novelist's eye to re-creating a complex chain of events and human reaction surrounding a crime and its aftermath. There are plenty of twists and turns in this tale, but the dominant note is one of compassion for the innocent man. - Sunday Times
A sincere, readable, lively book that raises important questions - The Times
At times it is harrowing, but above all, it is a testament to self-belief and the enduring love of his family - Daily Express
A work of art...this is a terrible and beautiful book. The terror is in the casual ease with which men, for the meanest of motives, can carelessly condemn another human being to rot from the inside out. The beauty not only lies with Ron Williamson...but also the burning care and respect for his fellow man shown by Grisham, which permeates and warms every page - Sunday Express
A blistering attack on corrupt politicians, the death penalty and the failures of the judicial system - The Daily Telegraph
Spectacular - Mirror
Truth really is much more complex and interesting than fiction - The Mail on Sunday
John Grisham has built his stunning writing career on producing brilliant, fast moving, utterly believable legal thrillers. His 19th book is so harrowing and gruesome. It's true - all of it. Grisham does a spectacular job of portraying the inherent fallibility of the American legal system and the appalling existence of the death penalty - The Mirror
A true story told by a skilful and indignant writer. Surely nobody could read John Grisham's polemic and still be in favour of the death penalty - Literary Review
John Grisham's novels are meticulously plotted and beautifully interwoven with his legal experience, evident in his detailed explanations of the judicial system which have always given his fictional work an air of reality and possibility. And this non-fiction account of the trial of Ron Wiliamson is similarly carefully crafted. In fact, you could read this book as a novel if you wanted and it would be equally valid - Irish Sunday Independent
Exactly what you'd expect to find in the plot of a John Grisham novel - Private Eye
The trademark Grisham style gives it the feel of a legal thriller, all the more chilling because it is true. A disturbing read - The Times
A gripping read - The Oldie
A nail biting story - The Sun
A killer combination of sheer story-telling nous and no-nonsense prose - Independent
Grisham hasn't lost his touch - Daily Mirror
A welcome return to what he does best - Observer
About the Author
John Grisham is the author of eighteen bestselling novels and the international number one non fiction debut The Innocent Man. He lives with his family in Virginia and Mississipi.