- 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.