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The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  48,247 Ratings  ·  3,891 Reviews
John Grisham tackles nonfiction for the first time with The Innocent Man, a true tale about murder and injustice in a small town (that reads like one of his own bestselling novels). The Innocent Man chronicles the story of Ron Williamson, how he was arrested and charged with a crime he did not commit, how his case was (mis)handled and how an innocent man was sent to death ...more
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Published October 10th 2006 by RH Audio
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Carla The Innocent an follows a different murder than The Dreams of Ada. The Dreams of Ada case is referenced and described in the book, but those men are…moreThe Innocent an follows a different murder than The Dreams of Ada. The Dreams of Ada case is referenced and described in the book, but those men are still in prison. The Innocent Man describes 2 different men that were convicted of a different murder in Ada, and have been exonerated. Therefore, Yes - there is a reason to read this book in addition to The Dreams of Ada.(less)

Community Reviews

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Daniel
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The World!
I've enjoyed a few Grisham's in my day, and of course seen a few of the films... But this book is stunning, and it's his first non-fiction.

I myself practice criminal law, and of course if you asked me, I'd say there are bad cops out there, and bad prosecutors, and bad defense attorneys and bad judges, but I would not have imagined the devastating travesty that unfolds on these pages.

This is a story of small town justice going way south. It wasn't vigilante but it wasn't far off. They used the "s
...more
Rebecca
Nov 21, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I preface this review by saying that John Grisham is one of my favorite authors of all time. Despite that, this was possible the worst book I have ever forced myself to finish. I finished it only because it was a Grisham novel, but it was downright awful. It is my understanding that this was Grisham’s first non-fiction book. It is his research and retelling of a man who is wrongly convicted of murder and put on death row. The book reads like a poorly written legal memo with insane amounts of unn ...more
babyhippoface
If you're going to read this, don't stop there. Go online and read Bill Petersen's account as well. It's only fair. And after all, "fair" is what this book is all about, right?http://www.billpetersondistrictattorn...

The Innocent Man alternates between a compelling account of a murder investigation and a tedious account of a man's stupidity/petty criminal activity/insanity.

I had great respect for John Grisham until I read both this book and responses to the book by Ada prosecutor Bill Petersen,
...more
Nenette
Mar 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The pull of this story is the fact that it is not fiction. The book was tagged as something every American should read…..but this is not happening only across the USA. It is a very sad fact that applies globally. After I’ve read this, I am left with a couple of thoughts about law enforcement personnel who would go to extreme measures to solve a case even at the expense of prosecuting the non-guilty – can they really be that bad to the core, or are they just so much in a hurry to resolve a case, ...more
Natalie Vellacott
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I always feel a little guilty when starting a Grisham book as I know I will still be reading ten hours later...but at least this one is a true story so I feel like I learned something.

The author is trying to shine a light on potential miscarriages of justice in America specifically the small town of Ada, Oklahoma--those in prison and on death row who really shouldn't be there. They end up there for all manner of reasons; corrupt cops, ambitious prosecutors, judges who are too focused on retireme
...more
Karen & Gerard
This is a very disturbing nonfiction book about our judicial system, a heinous crime and a wasted life. It showed how several innocent men were convicted of murder and that in reality, one is really guilty until proven innocent rather than the other way around. It is a very sad documentary about a talented high school athlete who really ruined his life with drinking, drugs and got framed for murder, and developed mental and physical illness. It's unbelievable how these innocent men spent 12 year ...more
Barbara

3.5 stars

In this non-fiction book John Grisham tells the shocking and disheartening story of two men who were wrongfully convicted of rape and murder in Oklahoma.

Ron Williamson, born in 1953, grew up in a loving Christian family in Ada, Oklahoma. He was a star on his high school baseball team and played for several professional minor league teams, hoping to make it to the majors. Injuries and health problems shattered these dreams however, and a short unsuccessful marriage added to Ron's woes.
...more
Bonnie
Aug 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
I preferred this (and Time to Kill) because he deviated from his usual "prescriptive" writing.
Eric Althoff
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one the best books I have EVER read! Like Stephen King, John Grisham is often labeled as a pop hack, but "The Firm" being one of my other favorite books, I will be his first defender, as one writer admiring another who combines his legal expertise with a thoroughly natural and maturely developed narrative voice. Grisham is both expert and storyteller, and he also happens to sell a helluva lot of books (and for good reason).

"The Innocent Man" is the true crime tale of a murder in small-to
...more
Basham!
Jan 19, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't going to put this book here because, well, it's Grisham and I'm just reading it for class. Still, for those unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, who despise public defenders, or take their liberty for granted, this book is a good introduction.

Early in his book, Grisham relates a 1909 incident from the “colorful” history of the small Oklahoma town of Ada (the main setting in the book). It is striking story of vigilante action triggered by the murder of a local farmer. Four men a
...more
Carlos Bazzano
Introducción

Desde el principio de la humanidad, el Estado (o el grupo, horda, tribu, etc., sea cual fuere la denominación que recibía la organización o cuasi-organización, que antecedió al nacimiento del Estado como tal) se arrogó la atribución y el poder de privar de la vida a alguno de sus miembros (o no) que hubieran cometido hechos punibles de gran gravedad, y no solo en tales casos sino que existía una amalgama inmensa de situaciones que, de acuerdo a las creencias de por entonces, ameritab
...more
Molly
Jul 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It is obvious from the title of the book whose side the author is on here. And it is hard not to be on the side of the wrongly convicted. I just wish that the author had taken the approach of presenting both sides of the story rather turning it into a soapbox against the wrongdoers - i.e. the Prosecutors, Police and Prison Staff. It would have brought better balance and made the book more respectable in telling this very important story.

In the early '80's in Oklahoma a young woman is raped and m
...more
Tim The Enchanter
The best Grisham novel in years. As a criminal defense lawyer myself, I am interested in reading of miscarriages of justice. My father in-law on the other hand, is a retired police officer and he simply found the book to be distasteful. In my practice I have found that most people do not believe that people can be wrongfully convicted or that crown attorneys (district attorneys in the us) or police officers may press matters through the system for reasons that are not related to justice. This wo ...more
Salymar
You are great Grisham and I love you, but this was probably one of the worst books I have ever forced myself to finish.
Despite that, I want to give this book five stars for the research and relevance.

Nice try for doing a non-fiction novel though! :)
Trevor Poe
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who like true stories
Recommended to Trevor by: My mother

Set in the quiet Bible Belt town of Ada, Oklahoma, The Innocent Man is a very well written novel about a man named Ronald Williamson, who was wrongly accused of a murder. Grisham describes the town perfectly when he says, “Had it not been for two notorious murders in the early 1980s, Ada would have gone unnoticed by the world.” In this book, the author, John Grisham, takes you through all of the details of the murder and explains why Ron Williamson was wrongly accused.

Ron Williamson lived in Ad
...more
booklady
Oct 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to booklady by: Joyce Hopper
Originally I wanted to give this book five stars for its readability, research and relevance. My primary reservation was the overall disturbing nature of the book. It's about an horrendous travesty of justice in my own state against two innocent men which explored the all-too common occurance of incarceration and even execution of those who never had anything to do with the crime(s) in question.

Upon doing a little more research, I discovered that the author Mr. Grisham, may not have not done the
...more
Mike
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tedious. Interesting, but nearly boring in tedium.

While Grisham states that he could have written a thousand pages about this story, it really could have been told in about 100. Also, the non-fiction nature of the story compels Grisham to tell the story rather like a reporter, reporting all of the facts in excruciating detail. Many of the details are indeed interesting, but the sheer number of them becomes overwhelming. There is very little dialogue (as one might expect from a non-fiction report
...more
Una Tiers
A tragic non-fiction story that dragged on.
Blueberry
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, southern
This was a well-written and researched book about two true-crimes in Ada, OK which sent 4 innocent men to prison, one barely missing execution by five days. Hard to read about however. It sent me to Google to learn more about the Innocent Project which tries to get innocent prisoners exonerated.
Francis Kessy
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the first non-fiction work of John Grisham. After reading this Book i feel bad about all those who are wrongly convicted and pass through the pain that Ron Williamson passed through. The question i ask myself is, if there is bad policing in developed countries what about in developing countries like mine?
Anthony Jones
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A fantastic read. I actually returned to this book three times as I found it so interesting. John Grisham has demonstrated he is not just a great fiction novelist but a terrific True Crime writer. Such a shame what happens in our society sometimes. Thank god for the Innocence Project and DNA testing. Mr. Grisham introduces Ron Williamson, a successful baseball player who falls from grace after an injury and developing drinking problem. While struggling with his demons in the small town of Ada Ok ...more
 Olivermagnus
The Innocent Man begins by describing the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter, a cocktail waitress living in Ada, Oklahoma. The case went unsolved until 1987, when Ron Williamson and a friend, Dennis Fritz, were arrested and charged with the murder. The prosecution's main witness claimed that the pair had been at the club where Carter worked on the night of her murder. The author proceeds to document a horrible abuse committed by the prosecutors in this trial. It's horrible to read about such a ...more
Shelagh Rice
This is John Grisham's first foray into the world of true crime. As you would expect from such an experienced author the writing is very good. It is not the best true crime book I have ever read and it's not the worst either. There is a feeling of detachment from the characters in the book that I felt took away from the story. The big issue highlighted in this book is the amount of innocent people, particularly those who cannot pay for their own defence, who are convicted and sentenced to death ...more
Don
Apr 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
John Grisham, normally known for his best seller legal novels, took a turn at nonfiction when he wrote this story about two young Oklahomans wrongly convicted for murder in the 1980s.

A small town justice system used questionable evidence to try the accussed and incompetent defense counsel were unable to use available evidence to get an innocent vertict. As a result these men spent years in prison and were not freed until DNA evidence was able to proof they were not guilty.

It is too bad law enfor
...more
Tûba
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
İnanılmaz bir kitap...Amerikan ve kim bilir hangi diğer ülkelerdeki aslında 'adil' olmayan adalet sistemi üzerine harika bir örnek...
Özellikle de 'adalet','doğru yargılama','önyargısız dava' gibi kavramlardan yoksun,ego manyağı,insanlıktan nasibini almamış savcılarca mahkum edilen pek çok masum hükümlü için iyi bir kaynak diyebilirim.Lütfen okuyun.
Ara vermeyi unutmayın zira benim sinirlerimi bozdu :)

The Romance Book Disciple (Samantha)
Link to full review below! Good, but struggled to stay focused and got very tangental at times, distracting the reader from the main case of the story. See full review on The Book Disciple
Christine Blachford
Difficult read this one. Grisham embarks on a non-fiction tale of wrongful conviction, a bit of a departure for him as he's far more well known for criminal/law fiction instead. But this still reads something like a Grisham novel - establishing the characters, detailing the crime and then walking through the stages of law that follow - in particular the trial.

It's so unsettling to know that this is all true though, and that two innocent men were convicted of such a horrible crime, and how close
...more
Jamie
Aug 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seems like everyone I know has been reading this nonfiction book by John Grisham about a pair of men unjustly convicted of murder. I don't normally read Grisham , but after hearing about the book from Geralyn, my mom, and others I got curious enough to take a look. It also kind of helped that the plot takes place in parts of my home state of Oklahoma that I've been to or seen: Ada, Tulsa, McAlister State Prison (only seen that one from a distance, never lived there thankfully), Broken Arrow, and ...more
Jason P
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I should first say that this was my first John Grisham novel. I should also say that one of the main reasons, if not the reason, I decided on picking this up was that Craig Wasson was the narrator. I know, not a great reason, but who’s asking?

I would love to go into the whole in-depth details, but I can honestly say I can’t without leaving a chunk out. The story of Ron Williamson was a bitter sweet one, a story of an underdog(s) – a man who has made mistakes, but not the one he was tried and co
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
مرد معصوم: ترجمه: فریده مهدوی دامغانی
داستان وکیلی نابینا، موکلی دیوانه، دستگاه قضایی خودستا، پلیسهایی فاسد، و عدالت، که به مسلخ میرود. «ران ویلیامسون» جوانی با آرزوی تبدیل شدن به بزرگترین ورزشکار ایالت «اوکلاهما»، نوجوانی را طی میکند، در عنفوان جوانی یک بازیکن بیسبال با آیندهی روشن میتواند باشد، ولی مزایای شهرت را وامینهد و به بیراهه رانده میشود. آسیبهای جسمانی، در کنار افراط در نوشیدن مشروبات الکی و مصرف مواد مخدر، زندگی ورزشاش را خیلی زود به انتها میرساند. زندگیای که میتوانست سرشار از افتخار ب
...more
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Play Book Tag: The Innocent Man by John Grisham 5 20 May 14, 2017 05:54AM  
Around the Year i...: The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, by John Grisham 4 14 May 07, 2016 07:20AM  
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Ada, Oklahoma 6 108 May 10, 2013 07:03PM  
A Real Snooze 22 134 Oct 16, 2012 12:32AM  
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"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
...more
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“God help us, if ever in this great country we turn our heads while people who have not had fair trials are executed…”
-Judge Frank Howell Seay”
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“A hundred years earlier, in Hopt v. Utah, the Supreme Court ruled that a confession is not admissible if it is obtained by operating on the hopes or fears of the accused, and in doing so deprives him of the freedom of will or self-control necessary to make a voluntary statement. In 1897, the Court, in Bram v. United States, said that a statement must be free and voluntary, not extracted by any sorts of threats or violence or promises, however slight. A” 3 likes
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