Author: John Grissam
The story talks about two men that got unfairly caught in the webs of a rotten system and who would have to fight for his freedom because of a murder they did not commit. 1982, Debbie Carter, a twenty-something girl is found raped and dead at her home in Ada, a small town in Oklahoma where justice is more than doubtful. Almost instantly the prosecution is focused in Ron Williamson, a guy from the town, known for his brief career in professional baseball and for his clear mental problems (manic depression, personality disorders, alcoholism and mild schizophrenia); and Dennis Fritz, who gets involved in the crime just because of his old friendship with Ron. Without even trying to get more suspects, two police officers from the town, Dennis Smith and Gary Rogers, begin harassing both men in order to get them in prison. Finally, after tricking them with many doubtful legality cheats, they manage to get false confessions from both men and testifying with many way unreliable sources, false witnesses and snitches they get to put Ron and Dennis behind bars, sentenced to death penalty. Then, they begin their ordeal to prove everyone that they are innocent and the real murderers are still out there.
The story also centres on a similar case, in which Denice Haraway happens to be murdered, and Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot prosecuted and eventually put behind bars under the same premises of Ron and Dennis.
The Innocent man is a nail biting legal thriller, a heavy descriptive page-turner that will get you almost instantly and will almost make you weep terrified with the cruel injustices committed by those who are supposed to protect us.
The writing style is very complex, the language is sometimes simple and sometimes quite hard, especially during the trials, mainly because of the great quantity of specific terms related with justice matters and that kind of things.
During the few spoken parts, the language is adapted to the speaker. Thereby, for example, when Ron speaks, the language is full of pet phrases and curses; when Barry Ward, Ron’s attorney, speaks, the language is correct and appropriated to the trials.
Ron Williamson: A former baseball player wannabe who was forced to retire early because of his arrogance and injuries and got mad as time passed. During the novel, we can see his mental evolution, since he was a little boy, going through his young sane glory days and ending in his mind losing.
Dennis Fritz: A former teacher at a high school who sees himself involved in a murder investigation just because of his old friendship with Ron. He and Ron had been “drinking buddies” for some time long ago, but Dennis had decided to stay away from him due to his dangerous behaviour. Anyway, their friendship finally takes its cost.
This is one of the most thrilling and page-turner book I’ve ever held in my hands. My recent lackness of nails can tell you the emotion I’ve felt until I turned the last page.
Fernando Neira Sánchez