29 February 2012

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town  --5 Stars

I'm not sure if it is completely possible to be enthralled with a book but infuriated by it as well. If this is indeed possible then I am in those shoes. In 1983, a lovely young woman was found brutally murdered in her apartment in Ada, Oklahoma. The police and prosecutor knew who committed the crime, they just had to prove it... by whatever means necessary. The prosecutor didn't care that he actually needed evidence to convict, the confessions heard by jailed prisoners would be plenty. Give him an attorney who didn't defend and his fate was sealed with prison bars.

Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz were innocent of the murder of Debbie Carter, as they stated throughout the "investigation". The entire thing was not merely injustice but a severe miscarriage! I was appalled that no one seemed to notice that the confessions, so called, were illegal; the prosecution failed to convince beyond a reasonable doubt that either man was even seen with the victim prior to her death, let alone in her apartment; the defense missed that Mr Williamson was obviously not competent enough to stand trial.

I do believe that if you commit the crime then you must serve the time for it. But what if you are indeed innocent? Twelve years of legal maneuvering and two men are finally free but forever changed. I know I just gave it away, but the so does the synopsis. Getting to the end is the trial, if you'll forgive the pun.

John Grisham has not before, nor since, delved into the world of true crime or non-fiction. "Writing fiction is just too much fun," he says. His style, though, is clear throughout. The Innocent Man reads almost like a work of fiction. Indeed, I hoped that it was, instead of some cruel imprisonment for two men. This book has been on my shelves for some time and once started, I found it difficult to put down.

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