Friday, January 12, 2007

Book: John Grisham's "The Innocent Man"

You wouldn't know that The Innocent Man is non-fiction without introduction. I guess the full title gives it away since novels don't usually carry an extended title, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. However true the account actually is, the book reads more like fiction than fact. Grisham mixes actual facts with some fill-in-the-gaps details that appear to be in keeping with the account he records after much detailed research. As the inside cover reads, the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter in Ada, Oklahoma, brings about the arrest of two men, both apparently innocent. One of them, Ron Williamson, receives the death penalty.

The book is more about the holes in the legal system than about the actual death penalty, and one comes away somewhat wary of the justice system as practiced in small town America. If anything, the value of a good lawyer is magnified.

True Crime genre books are not in abundance on my shelves, but there is something very intriguing and fascinating about reading something that actually did take place. My preference in fiction writing has always been stories that are real to life with characters who are real people. Hence, I've always made fun of writers like David Baldacci who seems to fill his books (at least the older ones which I have read) with characters who are all virtual superheroes - everyone is beautiful, athletic, and smart.

So, I enjoyed reading The Innocent Man, but it probably ranks pretty low on the Grisham list for me.

Grisham has never been shy about being against the death penalty, something which may have influenced his desire to publish Ron Williamson's story. With The Broker being Grisham's most recent novel and also being a deviation from his classic legal thriller genre, it will be interesting to see if he returns to the type of books that made him famous. I have a feeling that he will continue to branch out and attempt some other new things, although he insinuates in the epilogue that another such non-fiction work is probably not in his immediate interest.

1 comment:

Barbara Blog's said...

I read your blog and thought you may be interested in this story Here is something I read about it: Who And Where Is Dennis Fritz, You say after reading John Grisham's Wonderful Book "The Innocent man", Grisham's First non-fiction book. The Other Innocent Man hardly mentioned in "The Innocent Man" has his own compelling and fascinating story to tell in "Journey Toward Justice". John Grisham endorsed Dennis Fritz's Book on the Front Cover. Dennis Fritz wrote his Book Published by Seven Locks Press, to bring awareness about False Convictions, and The Death Penalty. "Journey Toward Justice" is a testimony to the Triumph of the Human Spirit and is a Stunning and Shocking Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham is all about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz's was his co-defendant. Ronnie Williamson was sentenced to the Death Penalty. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison. Both Freed by a simple DNA test, The real killer was one of the Prosecution's Key Witness. John Grisham's "The Innocent Man" tells half the story. Dennis Fritz's Story needs to be heard. Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man from Ada Oklahoma, whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975. On May 8, 1987 while raising his young daughter alone, he was put under arrest and on his way to jail on charges of rape and murder. Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with twist and turns. Dennis Fritz is now on his "Journey Toward Justice". He never blamed the Lord and soley relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God's time and never gave up.