Monday, September 21, 2009

ON BOOKS ~ The Innocent Man...

MizB asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
  • Share the title of the book the teaser comes from…that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

From pg. 285 of THE INNOCENT MAN by John Grisham (non-fiction):

"I am innocent," he said over and over. "And I have nothing to hide."

It is obvious from the title of the book whose side the author is on here. And it is hard not to be on the side of the wrongly convicted. I just wish that the author had taken the approach of presenting both sides of the story rather turning it into a soapbox against the wrongdoers - i.e. the Prosecutors, Police and Prison Staff. It would have brought better balance and made the book more respectable in telling this very important story.

In the early '80's in Oklahoma a young woman is raped and murdered in her own home. Though there is quite a bit of physical evidence, the list of suspects become a challenge to the local authorities. Out of backlog, presumption and frustration, the local authorities begin to find a way to build a case against two local men whom they feel circumstantially fit the bill. After years of anger and suspicion the men are finally arrested, tried and convicted. One is sent to Death Row and the other for Life.

This is not a story of getting into the mind of a killer. Though it could have been - very little was spent on that topic oddly enough. I guess the point was to show how it is to be in the mind of the wrongly convicted. And even though Grisham did not have the ability to interview his subject due to his death, he did build a sad tale from the wealth of information provided from this man's family, friends and legal team. What struck me even more than the injustice from a criminal standpoint was the broken mental health system in this country. I scratched my head consistently wondering what on earth this man had to do or where he had to be in order to get treatment. He never really did. And to me that was the saddest part about it.

Grisham lays out all of the facts and how they were overlooked, ignored or created from fiction. But his lack of personal interviews with those at fault mean that he had to presume their motivation, sentiments and character. And that is where the credibility begins to weaken for me in this piece of non-fiction. There are always two sides to every story, and I believe that Grisham wanted to portray them - I just wish I could have heard from both directly. I want to know how the Prosecutor could be so blind, so arrogant, so horrifying. I want to know how he got to the position of power that he holds and what motivated him. I want to see for myself the man he is outside of his job and how this murder effected his personal life. I don't want Grisham to tell me what to think - I want to come to that conclusion myself. I guess what I want is In Cold Blood. That's a tough standard for comparison.


stacybuckeye said...

I have this one to read, but I also have In Cold Blood and I'm thinking I need to read that one first.

Delly News Blog said...
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Sandy Nawrot said...

This one was very easy to read, and left me in a rage and the injustice. How could this happen HERE, in this day and age? But you are right about Grisham's soap was a big soap box at that. Totally one-sided. I would have loved to have heard an explanation for the wrong-doings, but somehow I'm thinking they would have not been good enough.

Nothing will ever beat In Cold Blood for true crime, ever. Even Ann Rule, who is pretty darned good.

kaye said...

hmmmm. . . I do like to read Grisham, but maybe I'll pass on this one. That second comment looks interesting too. Curious.

Wanda said...

I think you already know where I stand on the mental health system issue ... sounds like the book could've used an overhaul too.

Jennifer said...

ARGH! I can't find my book! I think the hubs picked it up to read it and put it somewhere else! Boooo! Anyway, it's pretty lame-o. I'm reading: The Fat Belly Diet. Commence laughing... ;-)

Lisa said...

Grisham is an interesting writer, but I don't know about his nonfiction. But if his name brings attention to an important story, then it's a good thing.

My teaser is here.

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

One thing I learned from this book is to insist on legal counsel when being questioned by the police. I read this book as well and found it to be very disturbing.

Here's the link to my review of it: