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The Innocent Man

Murder and Injustice in a Small Town
Written by: John Grisham
Narrated by: Craig Wasson
Length: 12 hrs and 28 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Number-one New York Times best seller

John Grisham’s first work of nonfiction: a true crime story that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence.

Soon to be a Netflix original documentary series 

“Both an American tragedy and [Grisham’s] strongest legal thriller yet, all the more gripping because it happens to be true.” (Entertainment Weekly

In the town of Ada, Oklahoma, Ron Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle. But on his way to the Big Leagues, Ron stumbled, his dreams broken by drinking, drugs, and women. Then, on a winter night in 1982, not far from Ron’s home, a young cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was savagely murdered. The investigation led nowhere. Until, on the flimsiest evidence, it led to Ron Williamson. The washed-up small-town hero was charged, tried, and sentenced to death - in a trial littered with lying witnesses and tainted evidence that would shatter a man’s already broken life, and let a true killer go free. 

Impeccably researched, grippingly told, filled with 11th-hour drama, this audio edition of The Innocent Man plays like an edge-of-your-seat legal thriller. 

“Grisham has crafted a legal thriller every bit as suspenseful and fast-paced as his best-selling fiction.” (The Boston Globe)

“A gritty, harrowing true-crime story.” (Time)

“A triumph.” (The Seattle Times)

©2006 Belfry Holdings, Inc (P)2006 Random House Audio

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • Frisco, TX, USA
  • 2007-01-17

Good Book - Not Typical Grisham

I've read a few Grisham novels, but I'm not a diehard fan. This book is definitely a departure from his fiction. If you are expecting a "legal thriller" with unknown adversaries, legal twists and surprise endings, then this book isn't for you. Just stay away. If you want to read about a true miscarriage of justice, how it affected the individuals, and how it was finally resolved (too late in many respects), then you will enjoy this.

It's a dramatic case study of what can go wrong in our judicial system. Through each step of the process, it's obvious (in hindsight) where the police and Oklahoma legal processes go bad. Williamson continues to deteriorate over the years spent in a non-forgiving environment. There's no nice, happy ending wrap-up. This is real life, and the results are mixed at best. You won't enjoy it, and it should make even the most ardent death penalty supporters question the system.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael H. Wagner
  • Columbus, OH USA
  • 2009-10-14

Wake up people...

I am stunned by the reviews that find this book uninteresting and/or poorly written. It was difficult to read because it is the story of our wonderful American justice system at its absolute worst. It is also the story of a couple of dozen Americans who allow their prejudices to prosecute and convict two men for murder with absolutely zero evidence. A man in Columbus was recently jailed for eighteen months and tried for the murder of his twin brother with the same 'evidence', none whatsoever. This can happen to anyone. If you aren't interested in this problem then you need to pray that you are never mistaken for a suspect and end up on death row.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Drew
  • San Antonio, TX, USA
  • 2007-12-07

Excellent non-fiction

I actually listened to half the book before I realized that it was non-fiction...While this might not be the thrill ride, surprise ending novel, I was thoroughly caught up in the book...To know that the injustice and travesty that can occur due to the malfeasance of lawyers, courtroom officials, and police is astounding...I thought this book was great and definitely would recommend...

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • M. Diana
  • Marietta, GA, USA
  • 2007-04-04

Wonderful Commentary on our

Yes, this is not a typical Grisham book, but it's about time someone addressed the abuses of our judicial system. This was a travesty of justice, and it's not isolated. Mr. Grisham sent us a wake-up call about the fact that we all must hold our judicial system accountable when it is responsible for ruining lives. District Attorneys should be heavily prosecuted for maneuvering innocent people into plea-bargaining in order to save the "win" in court. It's disgraceful how this system is abused so often! Our system of justice is the best in the world, no doubt; but when there are people manipulating it to their own advantage, it turns ugly. That was the case with this young man, and unfortunately, with many others as well.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Terri Jones
  • 2007-03-15

And non-fiction...

This is by far, the most frightening book I've ever read.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Armen
  • BROOMALL, PA, USA
  • 2008-02-04

Don't Miss This One

This is a fascinating story that deserves to be read by anyone interested in our justice system - as we all should be.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sue
  • Indianapolis, IN, USA
  • 2006-11-21

Different

This was not your typical Grisham novel. I listened to the entire thing before I realized that it was non-fiction. I suppose that should be a compliment. It was just too detailed for me. I may have ignored that had I realized that it was all true. I just kept thinking that no police force could be that stupid but I guess I was wrong. You can only imagine how shocked I was to find out that it all really happened. I guess that is why I give this 4 stars. I would give it 5, but I did not like the narrator. It could have been so much better with someone who has a more appealing voice.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Paula Beck
  • Chester, MA
  • 2006-11-03

Disturbing and Riveting

I have a newfound respect for John Grisham. He tells this true story in an entertaining way and gives us new insights into local law and the death penalty.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Patti
  • Chittenango, NY, United States
  • 2013-10-27

Good As Any But Not My Favorite

Grisham relates the horrors of our legal system once again, but this time it is not from his imagination. His usual talent in telling a tale is present in this book but it does drag on. In addition to the tale of his two prime victims, other stories of wrongfully convicted men are told. I could see the revelance, but it tended to distract and confuse. The time lines also bounced around which further confused the story.

The narration was superb. There were great characterizations and dfferentiation of voices. I will look to listen to more by Mr. Wasson.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Gil Gilbert
  • 2006-10-18

Sorry John...

Count me in as one of the millions of worldwide fans of John Grisham. Like my fellow readers, I wait with great anticipation for his next book. I love his conversational writing. I can picture every scene as he describes them. He may be the best legal thriller writer of our day.
When I heard of "The Innocent Man", I was delighted. When I downloaded and listened, I was very, very disappointed. The book turns out to be a rehash of a previous book by another author and the subject of a PBS "Frontline' piece in 2002 about a wrongly convicted man..
The book is a narration of transcripts and court testimony from the trial. There is little to no dialog. There is no character development or interaction. There is no plot.
John's author notes at the end of the audio address some of these issues. The problem is that we should have been able to have read these notes before purchase.
"Frontline" told the story in one hour while Grisham chose to stretch it out over several hours. It is simply boring testimony.

But, fear not, I will still wait in anticipation for John's next book. I just hope he stays away from real crime and court testimony and goes back to his "paint a portrait" fiction.

30 of 45 people found this review helpful