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The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town Hardcover – 10 Oct 2006

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Hardcover, 10 Oct 2006

Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Books; First Edition edition (10 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385517238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385517232
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.2 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,950,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career--and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, The Appeal, and The Associate) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 250 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500--the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Product Description


"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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Murder and injustice in a small town --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Steveml on 5 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
Having approached this book with an open mind (and staying with it to the end) I found this an excellent piece of work. It is often too easy to pick a title by a well known author - and expect the book to be the same as previous offerings. This was John Grisham's first non-fiction novel, and those who may have been expecting a legal fiction thriller, and bought the book in error, shoud perhaps have read the cover before complaining within their review.

I feel that the incidents and injustices described within the book do leave you with a strong sense of how legalities, the justice system and pre-judgement can spiral to the point of no-return, purely because of the egotism and self-opinions of those we place trust in.

The book was so powerful, that it compelled the prosecuting district attorney in the case, Bill Peterson, to create a website in a 'self-defence' attempt to lambaste any innacuracies within the book. This wouldn't be that funny, but all the prosecutor seems to be able to do is to pick holes in points that were not that relevant to the case, again attempting to deflect responsibility from hiself and his colleagues.

The book will shock, and leave a bitter taste, especially in view of the fact that neither the prosecutor nor those involved in this harrowing case of injustice and mistrial seem to feel it necessary to apologise for their wrongdoings. As clear a case of finding a scapegoat for a crime at any price as you will ever see, in a shallow attempt to appease a small town community.

Give it a try - I wish more non-fiction writers provoked such interest with their books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary Taylor on 11 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
First, the good news. As a courts and legal affairs reporter the past 40 years, I have covered thousands of criminal cases and trials. And I remain fairly confident that the grotesque miscarriage of justice so artfully detailed in this nonfiction masterpiece is a rare occurrence. After all, if it were not, the injustices of Ada, Oklahoma, would not have triggered publication of this best-seller and two other books of outrage.

But, here's the bad news. The Innocent Man is nonfiction and this grotesque miscarriage of justice actually DID happen. No patriotic American can be proud of a system in which events like these can occur. To learn that the prosecutor and the cops at the center of this legal mess had the stones to sue for libel just adds insult to the injury of The Innocent Man. They should have slunk off quietly into a sunset of anonymity and hoped to heaven no one could ever link them to the cases from this book.

Grisham has performed a public service by lending his legal-fiction rock-star status to the story of this transgression. I hope he donated some of the revenues from The Innocent Man to the Innocence Project so that group can continue its valuable work.

And, I hope every prosecutor and cop in America reads this book carefully as a reminder that their true role in the system involves serving justice not just closing a case.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr. K. Wrebel on 30 Jan. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Unlike John Grisham's other masterful books, this is not a work of fiction. This was not written for your entertainment. This is a horror story. A horror story that not only equals the great books of Stephen King, but surpasses them with its appalling, unbelievable truth. And if that is not terrifying enough - this nightmare is not over. Closing the covers of this book will not make it all go away. As I write these words, and as you, if you have the nerve, turn the pages, the horror and injustices go on; inflicted, still, by some of the same merciless justice officials named in the pages of this book.

With this disturbing expose of Oklahoma's often cruel and incompetent penal system, John Grisham, with the loyalty of his fans and the compassion of his new readers takes us on a fact based-meticulously- researched, torturous account of one mans trail through living hell. A hell named, Death Row-McAlester Penitentiary, Oklahoma. John Grisham has utilised his, well earned, position as a best selling author and legal expert, to blast open the concrete walls of shame, and bend open the iron bars of corruption and hypocrisy to show the world yet-one-more sick, festering tumour of human-rights violations.

Who cares how well or badly written this book is? I never thought to notice while reading it, nor care now I have finished it. I was shocked and pained by its contents. Contents that to any passionately-perceptive human being should be beyond criticism.

Not all men and women, after spending years on death row eventually to be executed, are guilty of their crimes. If you cannot live with that thought - do not read this book.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By J. Mellor on 19 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have long been a Grisham fan and in the early days used to positively drool awaiting the next book. However, I began to lose interest after A Painted House and since The King of Torts, whilst passable, I do not think any of his books have been anything special. In fact the last 4/5 novels merge into one and I cannot remember individual story lines. You cannot say that about The Firm or A Time To Kill.

It was with a little bit of uncertainty, therefore, that I recently bought his latest book, The Innocent Man. I was intrigued about him writing a non fiction book and the write up also captured my imagination:

"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".

So I thought, why not try it?

Well, I must say that I was absolutely hypnotized and read this book in one sitting last night. I have no idea how long it took and have no concept of time as I was captivated with the book.

I do remember, however, going through a whole range of emotions the most common of which was frustration. Not with the book itself but thinking "how can this happen?".

If this was a book of fiction written by Grisham then I would have thought he had lost the plot, that he had writer's block and was struggling to find a realistic storyline - I had to keep reminding myself it was a true story (but won't spoil the storyline for anyone!!)

I can certainly seeing him writing further true crime books in the future.
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