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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant piece of non-fiction
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...
Published on 5 Jan 2008 by Steveml

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow start.
Far from Grisham's best piece of writing. I found there were too many names appearing early on and frankly I lost the plot of who was who and who did what to whom and when. Confusing.
Published 18 months ago by Uncle Tom


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant piece of non-fiction, 5 Jan 2008
By 
Steveml (Lancs, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Innocent Man (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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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars compelling, 19 Feb 2007
By 
J. Mellor "stayleyvegas" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Innocent Man (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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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critics.... you are kidding me., 28 Dec 2007
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Paperback)
Having read most of Grisham's fiction I approached this book with an open mind. Perhaps that's what the critics should have done. Not my normal type of book, I admit, I prefer fiction, for me Grisham along with Harlan Coben is the best there is in the modern world. But nevertheless I picked up the book, a present from Father Christmas.
The book pulled me through page my startling page. I gasped... my mouth fell open on more than one occasion. I applauded Grisham's words, his research, HIS open mind and his perseverance to bring these cases of miscarriage of justice to the world stage when he could have so easily written himself a ten million dollar cheque with another work of genius fiction.
Grisham takes the reader down the road where sanity ends and insanity begins and more importantly what happens when a corrupt and lazy County judicial system opts for the easy out.
The line of least resistance.
The town - the county - the country - wanted a conviction.
So let's try the nut!
Easy peasy, Ron Williamson was so mentally imbalanced they must have thought they were on to a winner.
Ron Williamson.
My heart went out to him as I recalled my early twenties when a friend of mine set path on the same route when all around him could do little but proffer their support and lend an occasional ear.
I sympathised with Williamson as I did with my friend.
I screamed no! On more than one occasion and I'm not ashamed to say I cried at one point. This type of book is necessary to bring to the attention of the so called civilised world that injustices do occur. And shame on you to the prosecutor and the police department and to the individuals with no heart and a huge slice of apathy and sheer laziness. I just hope you continue to sleep straight in your beds at night. And my biggest criticism of all, levied for the church who preach forgiveness and compassion on a daily basis and in particular the small town church in Ada where the Williamson family including Ron attended and prayed and preached for generations ...and Ron Williamson a committed Christian during his whole life, embracing Christianity before, during and after his incarceration, shunned by the very organisation he loved and respected.
Irony... his reward, God's answer to his prayers... a terminal illness just a few months after he tasted freedom after eleven years of hell on earth.
To the church of Ada and to the Pastor who remains unnamed (for the best) in the book, may your Lord forgive you!
And for Grisham, a brave and compelling piece of work and because of his illustriousness, one that will ultimately be read by the masses. And so it should be.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read with care., 30 Jan 2007
By 
Mr. K. Wrebel "Derby drifter" (Cornwall England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Innocent Man (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. If you are moved by that thought - read the book, and then look up the McAlaster Penitentiary, death row inmates -pen-pals wanted site, and write to someone in hell.

The Innocent Man altered my perspective on life. Fresh air tastes sweeter, sunshine feels warmer, freedom seems bigger. Before he wrote this book John Grisham had my admiration as a writer; now he has my respect as a human being. This is not just another book. (kurtwrebel@hotmail.com)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legal Fiction Rock Star Grisham Performs Public Service By Writing This Book, 11 Dec 2009
This review is from: The Innocent Man (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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Justice is worth fighting for., 8 Jan 2008
By 
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Hardcover)
Anybody who has any interest in justice and fairness ought to read this book. It is a shocking revelation of a miscarriage of justice in Western civilisation. If this true story were just a one off it would be appalling, but it leaves one with the feeling that this may just be the tip of the iceberg. In certain parts of the world justice is not something that is held in high esteem, but here in the West we expect our justice system to be a foundation for our civilisation.

John Grisham has done an excellent job, both in his careful investigation and in the presentation of the facts in this book. For me it made both compelling and challenging reading. Challenging because as individuals our moral stance contributes to the fabric of society and we need to guard against a careless attitude towards matters of right and wrong.

As others have pointed out, the photographs give a précis of the story and should be looked at only after reading the book otherwise it is like taking a peek at the last chapter.

All in all a very worthwhile read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivetting!, 30 Oct 2006
By 
D. M. Liffen (Norfolk UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Hardcover)
Regular readers of Mr.Grisham will be fully aware of the nail biting tension that accompanies all of the novels that he has penned to date. This latest offering is no different...apart from the fact that this one is true. By now you will have a general feel for the main subject of the Innocent man so I wont trawl you through whats already been written here.

If however you feel that you can handle the injustices of the nature of human behaviours, the injustice of the 'system' then this book is definately for you.

The worrying thing is that many of the individuals who appear in this book are STILL in positions of authority. Frightening.......
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tough guy with a big heart!, 12 Oct 2006
By 
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This review is from: The Innocent Man (Hardcover)
It's never easy to become popular. It's never easy to write books which are read by millions of people all over the world. It's never easy to write books and have Hollywood producers queing up in order to make them into movies. It's never easy to be able to write extremely well. Not if you want to be recognized as an excellent writer.

All Grisham's fiction is entertaining, easy reading with a clear, distinct writing style and no hidden meanings. He tells a story and presents his view on what goes on within the American legal world. Straightforward. Clear conclusions. No doubt anywhere.

"The Innocent Man" is a true story. No clever legal fairytale this time. And Grisham tells it in his usual no nonsence way. Shocking facts about "confessions". A detailed general description of execution with lethal injection. Fatal verdicts based on false or non-existing evidence.

The story has been thoroughly researched. Facts about people and incidents are presented in his usual easy style. Legal and police language is made understandable to laymen. Grisham tells what is necessary to give a complete picture of the case. Only what is necessary. He has a story to tell and never strays.

And beneath the seamingly detached presentation, Grisham reveals a big heart and strong social conscience. The very private, pragmatic, bestseller author who has partly, but only partly, hidden behind a tough guy image all through his authorship, could not have shown his true self more clearly. In this book we are, if indirectly, introduced to the man John Grisham. A kind, warm-hearted, even sensitive human being with strong opinions and a soft heart.

Many authors are compared to John Grisham. "Better than Grisham" the critics say. Meaning, as I see it, that Grisham is no big deal. There are lots of better writers around.

And all over the world millions of people enjoy his books and the movies based upon them, and have no idea how mediocre their taste in literature is viewed by the critics. Those who know best.....
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read it, 2 Jun 2007
By 
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Hardcover)
I have just finished reading this book and, as many have already said, I found it utterly compelling and unputdownable. I am a great fan of Grisham anyway but this is by far his best. Not in the same way as the intriguing plots and well written narratives of his other works but just in the sheer forensic dissection of what passes for justice in small town America. It should be made compulsory reading for anyone who believes the death penalty is a good thing. Just one word of warning - as someone else has mentioned - don't look at the photographs in the middle until you have finished reading the book!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A SHAM!!!, 28 Nov 2006
By 
Heather Negahdar ""Haze"" (Bridgetown, Barbados) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Hardcover)
"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."

Whenever I think of John Grisham, I think of all the joy that he has brought to me through his writing, and I am always happy to see his new arrivals.

An Innocent Man is a work of non-fiction taking place in the state of Oklahoma, in the small town of Ada, in the eighties.

When Debra Sue Carter, a cocktail waitress is raped and murdered one night after leaving a bar, the police pounce immediately on Dennis Fritz, and Ron Williamson; two young men of Ada. With no evidence or witnesses, it seems as though the Law wanted to have someone to bring before the courts to prove they were doing their job. These two unfortunate men kept claiming their innocence over and over again, but all to no avail. Their appeals fell on death ears. Eventually, Mr. Fritz was given a life sentence and Mr. Williamson sent to death row.

How did the judicial system work that out? Why did they not spend some more time trying to get at the truth of what really happened that night? They spend their hopeless lives behind bars until one day; someone gets the guts to tear this charade to pieces, bit by bit, revealing the plain truth of that night.

What makes you mad about this case is to see the amount of precious time these guys wasted in jail. It took a toll on their mental and physical health, and someone should have to pay for incriminating these poor guys.

Reviewed by Heather Marshall Negahdar (SUGAR-CANE 23/11/06)
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