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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Book Review: Audiobook The Innocent Man by John Girsham

A narration of a true life travesty.
The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham.
  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739340484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739340486
Genre: Nonfiction
My Rating:  4.25

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.

Review:  When I began listening to this in the car I did not realize it was non fiction and I couldn’t understand why the narration was like a documentary. Then I realized midway in the first disc that it is a documentary.  I was completely engaged from that point.

This audio book tells the story of Ron Williamson and another man, an acquaintance more than a friend, who are wrongfully accused and with planted and circumstantial they are convicted of a brutal rape and murder. The book description above summarizes the gist of the story.  The documentary report pulls together, from the beginning days of the crime to the arrest, the facts that resulted in this travesty and the slow research and assistance that finally exposed the corruption and resulted in the release of the two men eleven years later.

If you like to follow a trail of evidence and can stomach the injustice this is an excellent audio. Just be forewarned that it is not presented as a novel but as a documentary.
You might want to check out the interview with the author explaining why he presented this non fiction piece.
I will be holding this book for future giveaway audio choices.

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