The Innocent Man by John Grisham

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The Innocent Man by John Grisham is a heartbreaking story of a man who was so close to success and then lost everything. Not only that, but he was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and had nothing to do with. This true story is extremely well written. It centers on Ron Williamson, along with Dennis Fritz and the story of their conviction, that is haunting, and yet completely true.
Ron was outstanding at baseball player growing up. He played extremely well in high school and had scouts everywhere. He even moved to a town known for its baseball, to have a good coach. He played in the minors, and was on his track to become “the next Mickey Mantle”. Had he not gotten caught up in drugs, alcohol, and clubs he probably would have. His late nights caught up with him and his baseball career was going nowhere. He moved back to Ada, where he lived with his family who loved him dearly, even though he became a tough burden.
Ada, Oklahoma is a small town in the “Bible Belt” of Oklahoma. Ron grew up there, in a Christian home with parents and sisters who loved and supported him. In 1982, Debbie Carter was murdered in her home, nearby to where Ron lived. He and a friend of his, Dennis were convicted of the crime a few years later, because the police had no other leads whatsoever. This book tells the extremely detailed story of Ron and Dennis and their trial, convictions, and finally a second trial. It also goes into great detail telling of Ron’s time on Death Row and other experiences in Prison.
The culture in this book is much different from what I’m used to, growing up in a large suburb. I’m used to being surrounding but thousands of people I don’t know, but that was rarely the case in Ada. Ada is one of those towns where everybody knows everybody else, so it’s hard to walk around without a reputation of some sort. This was interesting for me because it was so unlike what I’ve grown up with. The Innocent Man shows that these things aren’t always for the better and makes me very grateful to live in a larger city.
Grisham did an outstanding job of writing an interesting and detailed account, without making it tedious. It amazes me how much the police and lawyers of the state did to convict two innocent men, who weren’t guilty whatsoever. This book tells the story of justice and corruption, and was an eye-opener to how fraudulent our court system can be.
Besides being revealing and informative, The Innocent Man is also rather suspenseful. It was hard for me to read at points. This was because you knew that Ron and Dennis were innocent, and there is no evidence except testimonials, which were shaky at best, convicting them, yet they were sentenced as guilty. Grisham uses this technique to make you keep reading and to long to know what happens next, and who would be intelligent enough to see that they had nothing to do with the crime.
All I can say is that this book will make you take a different look at what justice is and how corrupt our government can be. It shows that some things do end well and not everyone convicted is guilty.





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