Monday, May 5, 2008

The Innocent Man - John Grisham; Weekly Geeks #2

Title: The Innocent Man
Author: John Grisham
Date Finished: May 4, 2008
Yearly Count: 24
Pages: 360
Rating: 3/5

[Edited Note: this book is NonFiction--Grisham's only nonfiction work]
In a small Oklahoma town, Ada, in the early 1980s, Debbie Carter was brutally raped and murdered. The police began an investigation into Carter's murder, but they soon found that they did not have any leads as to who the killer was. The police received a tip, however, that Ron Williamson was involved in the murder.

Williamson was once a star athlete with a promising future, but after he sustained an arm injury, he slipped into a steady decline. He began drinking and was arrested several times for various crimes--some he committed, some he did not. The police began building a case around Williamson for Carter's murder--but he wasn't formally arrested until years after the murder. It seems as though the police were desperate and under immense pressure to solve the crime and exaggerated the little evidence available.

It is difficult for me to write my thoughts on this book without letting my feelings get in the way. I found myself angry at the police and the DA for charging Williamson and his friend, Dennis Fritz, for a murder they did not commit. The crime scene did not yield much evidence and in a time without DNA testing much of the evidence was circumstantial. Things were omitted from court, shady character witnesses were used, and neither man had a strong defense lawyer.

This book opened my eyes to the many injustices that occur in the legal system--it is not perfect and innocent men were put on death row (there are a total of five innocent men discussed in detail in this book). Williamson suffered from severe mental disabilities, and his condition throughout the story angered me and saddened me--especially as his mental condition was not presented in court during the time of his trial.

Overall I believe that Grisham did his research and presented a compelling story. The way that the story was told, however, was at times muddled and confusing. For the first 100 pages, numerous characters enter the story and it is difficult to keep track of them all. Grisham inserts small paragraphs in the middle of his narrative that have little relevance and the only purpose for them seems that he just wanted to get the information out there. While the information was usually interesting, it was distracting and made the book have a jumpy feel. Bottom line - a fascinating story that could have used a heavier red pen.

They reviewed it too:

Joy at Thoughts of Joy
Becca at The Inside Cover


To be honest, I'm a little overwhelmed by the idea of including links even though I really like the idea. I will do a google reader search for books that I write about (starting with The Innocent Man) and include what I find. If I somehow miss you, please leave me a comment and I'll revise my post to including your link [not to be snarky, but it won't really thrill me if ALL you leave is your link!! *evil little laugh*]. Another great resource to find out about other blogs that have posted on the same book, Natasha from Maw Books has created a wonderful website that contains numerous books and their blogger reviews: Book Blogger Book Reviews.

To find out more about this week's Weekly Geeks--click the link above to take you directly to the post.

Happy reading! :)


Debi said...

Thanks for the review, Trish! This is a book I've sort of had in the back of my mind that I'd like to get around to someday. I really appreciate the honesty of your review...sometimes I think it can really help to know a book's weak points before reading it. You end up less disappointed.

Literary Feline said...

Thank you for the great review! I've been considering this one since it came out. A coworker of mine reads and loves everything written by Grisham.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Debi - I think I was so bothered by the jumpiness of the book because I was getting the characters and circumstances confused. Overall a very compelling read, though.

*Lit Feline - I've only read a few Grisham books and nothing in a while--just not my cup of tea. But when I found out about this book--his only nonfiction work--I was very interested in reading it for Joy's challenge. Glad I did--this book definitely raises some important issues.

Kim L said...

This sounds like a fascinating book! Stories like that reinforce to me why I am against the death penalty. The justice system has its flaws.

Joy said...

I rated this one a 3.5/5 and I love Grisham. It was interesting, but somewhat tedious - a little too many details for my liking.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Kim - Well either way, thank goodness for DNA testing nowadays. I'm always amazed at how many people were wrongly convicted and freed due to DNA.

*Joy - I've only read 3 Grisham (Time to Kill, which I loved, Rainmaker which was OK, and Saving Christmas which was cute). Hubby has several of his books, but I've never been really interested. Too many *random* details it seemed to me, but still a quick interesting read.

Meredith said...

You did better than I; I couldn't even finish it I was so bored. To me, Grisham's work is getting more and more disappointing with each release. The Appeal was also boring to me, and that wasn't even nonfiction!

Anonymous said...

Trish, I have not commented here in this post before this and you said in my post on Salem Falls that I was being judgemental as per my last line. As a matter of fact, I loved all of Grisham's older works and recently re-read his colection of short stories,Twelve Read Herrings.

Anonymous said...

I have never had any desire to read a single Grisham book. Still don't. So many other books out there I'd rather read. And thanks for the shout out!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

My comments deleted, so if this is a repeat, forgive me!

*Bellezza - It took me a good 100 pages to get into this book, but after my mom told me how good it was I felt like I needed to keep reading. It did pick up for me, but wasn't what I was hoping for.

*Gautami - I am so sorry! I think that you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I was saying that WE as a people are too quick to judge, not YOU. People judge others too quickly based on stereotypes, a slip up in the past, flimsy evidence, etc. I really wasn't trying to accuse you of anything--I was agreeing with your last statement! Forgive me for the misunderstanding?

*Natasha - I read A Time To Kill in high school and enjoyed it--but that was then? I liked Saving Christmas, but it was very different from the other ones that I had read. As a rule I don't like his type of book, so I don't usually read them. I was intrigued by this one because it was non-fiction and had heard good things about it.

bethany (dreadlock girl) said...

I have never read a Grisham novel. (shhhh, don't tell!) I think he wrote painted house, and I have been wanting to read that one. Am I right?

And what is this weekly geeks thing going around, I must have missed something while out with the drill and the saw...I think everyone is doing it but me! I better find out what it is!

Oh, and I think I am back. I just read and am going to review The Reluctant Fundamentalist. And yes, all is are very sweet!

Anonymous said...

THanks Trish, for clarifying it to me. I am so sorry I was a dunce for not understanding what you said. I can see parallels here and Salem Falls. Please feel free to comment as much as you can. If you wish, we can haunt each other!

BTW, I have added you to my blogroll too!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Bethany - Weekly Geeks can be found at The Hidden Side of the Leaf (Dewey's blog). I'm only semi participating this week since it asks us to link to other reviews and I've only written one--and I'm going out of town this week to visit hubby's parents. Yes, John Grisham did The Painted House. I own it but haven't read it--my hubby used to really like Grisham, but I never got into his books.

*Gautami - Sometimes I tend to be a little sarcastic and snarky, so I'm always afraid that won't translate through words and someone will find offense in what I say (although I wasn't being sarcastic in my initial comment--we were both just talking about different things). Anyway, glad that's over! :)

heather (errantdreams) said...

It's too bad the book was a bit jumpy. Honestly, the very idea of how easy it is for justice to go wrong scares me. So many people on death row or serving life in prison have been exonerated through DNA testing.

Ramya said...

hey.. i've taken the liberty to find common books that we've read and add your reviews to my listing..:)hope you don't mind!
that's the link if you want to check it out..:)

Clare - The Super Mommy Club said...

I completely agree - if we're to link to each others reviews then that's great but we could spend the time to leave a little comment as well - after all we'll ave both read the same book so why not comment on how your views matched/differed from the others?

Anyhoo - you've been tagged :)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Heather - it is scary indeed. There was a story yesterday about a man who was imprisoned for 23 years before being exonerated.

*Ramya - my blogging has been a little sparse lately, but I'll come check it out. Thanks for the link love. ;)

*Mrs. S - I actually did the meme last weekend--you can check it out by scrolling down. :) I'll come by when I get a free minute to check out your answers. And yes, agreed agreed!!