[Edited Note: this book is NonFiction–Grisham’s only nonfiction work]
In a small Oklahoma town, Ada, in the early 1980s, Debbie Carter was brutally raped and murdered. The police began an investigation into Carter’s murder, but they soon found that they did not have any leads as to who the killer was. The police received a tip, however, that Ron Williamson was involved in the murder.
Williamson was once a star athlete with a promising future, but after he sustained an arm injury, he slipped into a steady decline. He began drinking and was arrested several times for various crimes–some he committed, some he did not. The police began building a case around Williamson for Carter’s murder–but he wasn’t formally arrested until years after the murder. It seems as though the police were desperate and under immense pressure to solve the crime and exaggerated the little evidence available.
It is difficult for me to write my thoughts on this book without letting my feelings get in the way. I found myself angry at the police and the DA for charging Williamson and his friend, Dennis Fritz, for a murder they did not commit. The crime scene did not yield much evidence and in a time without DNA testing much of the evidence was circumstantial. Things were omitted from court, shady character witnesses were used, and neither man had a strong defense lawyer.
This book opened my eyes to the many injustices that occur in the legal system–it is not perfect and innocent men were put on death row (there are a total of five innocent men discussed in detail in this book). Williamson suffered from severe mental disabilities, and his condition throughout the story angered me and saddened me–especially as his mental condition was not presented in court during the time of his trial.
Overall I believe that Grisham did his research and presented a compelling story. The way that the story was told, however, was at times muddled and confusing. For the first 100 pages, numerous characters enter the story and it is difficult to keep track of them all. Grisham inserts small paragraphs in the middle of his narrative that have little relevance and the only purpose for them seems that he just wanted to get the information out there. While the information was usually interesting, it was distracting and made the book have a jumpy feel. Bottom line – a fascinating story that could have used a heavier red pen.
They reviewed it too:
WEEKLY GEEKS #2
To be honest, I’m a little overwhelmed by the idea of including links even though I really like the idea. I will do a google reader search for books that I write about (starting with The Innocent Man) and include what I find. If I somehow miss you, please leave me a comment and I’ll revise my post to including your link [not to be snarky, but it won’t really thrill me if ALL you leave is your link!! *evil little laugh*]. Another great resource to find out about other blogs that have posted on the same book, Natasha from Maw Books has created a wonderful website that contains numerous books and their blogger reviews: Book Blogger Book Reviews.
To find out more about this week’s Weekly Geeks–click the link above to take you directly to the post.
Happy reading! :)