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Summary

John Grisham’s first work of nonfiction, an exploration of small town justice gone terribly awry, is his most extraordinary legal thriller yet.

In the major league draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the State of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A’s, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory.

Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and bad habits—drinking, drugs, and women. He began to show signs of mental illness. Unable to keep a job, he moved in with his mother and slept twenty hours a day on her sofa.

In 1982, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder.

With no physical evidence, the prosecution’s case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Dennis Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Ron Williamson was sent to death row.

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.

©2006 John Grisham (P)2006 Random House, LLC

Critic reviews

"Like Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, The Innocent Man brings a novelist's eye to re-creating a complex chain of events and human reaction surrounding a crime and its aftermath. There are plenty of twists and turns in this tale, but the dominant note is one of compassion for the innocent man" ( Sunday Times)

What listeners say about The Innocent Man

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truly amazing story

excellent narrator most unforgettable story you would'nt
think this misjudgement happened very sad story

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Phenomenal

Loved every minute of it and astonished by its content! Grisham is a favourite of mine and I highly recommend anyone read this that has also watched or is aware of the Making of a Murderer series on tv.

1 person found this helpful

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Good book a bit too long

I enjoyed this book. It’s well written, brilliantly narrated and overall a great true story. It just seemed to go on a little too long. Slightly dragged out.That’s my only criticism of an otherwise very good read.

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loved it

brilliant listen to from start to finish actually near brung me to tears at the end a very powerful book

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How could this happen?

You’ll be screaming this inside your head all through this book. Whether you liked Ron or not, it’s a powerful argument against the death penalty.

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Amazing Story. Phenomenally Written.

John Grisham somehow manages to make a tale based on real life injustices, somehow more real and both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. Definitely recommend.

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Interesting yet infuriating story!

Felt a little slow at first, but once I was used to the pace I was hooked! Didn't want to stop listening, aside from turning it off once when I became so infuriated at the general incompetence of law enforcement / the judicial system!! Worth a listen.

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Excellent

It has been some time since I was so engrossed in an audio book that I had to listen at every opportunity. It is a fascinating true story and the breadth and depth of research to bring this story to life is truly impressive. I think Grisham should write more non-fiction.

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As close to perfect as you'll find.

A truly brilliant, compelling, evocative listen. Highly absorbing and highly recommended. In my opinion, this is what true crime writing should be.

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More details than the Netflix series

I purchased this book after watching the Netflix series of the same name. I cannot believe how there was more stories of corruption to be told in this case. Great read.

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Profile Image for George Odo
  • George Odo
  • 22-12-15

Grisham at his best!

Ron Williams makes you want to cry but also makes you angry sometimes, powerful story