The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

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Book Rating (227)

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Written By: John Grisham

Narrated By: Dennis Boutsikaris

Date: October 2006

Duration: 5 hours 54 minutes


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • John Grisham’s first work of nonfiction: a true crime story that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence.
“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 eleventh-hour drama, this audio edition of The Innocent Man reads like an edge-of-your-seat legal thriller. It is a book no American can afford to miss.
Praise for The Innocent Man
“Grisham has crafted a legal thriller every bit as suspenseful and fast-paced as his bestselling fiction.”—The Boston Globe
“A gritty, harrowing true-crime story.”—Time
“A triumph.”—The Seattle Times


  • Anonymous

    Great listen

  • Patty Oole

    To walk this man's journey through the eyes of John Grisham was both inspiring and infuriating. It read like a mystery. Loved!!

  • Anonymous

    I enjoyed the book, although, I was saddened by the behavior of the prosecutor and the investigators. I fear that the results from these types of convictions may be more common than I had previously believed. The narrator did a great job of creating the feeling that I was present in the event.

  • Marty B.

    I loved this book! I had already watched the Netflix series so I was familiar with the story. But the book of course went into further details of the men convicted and the women who were killed. I will recommend this book to everyone! Also, I love Craig Wasson! He is an excellent narrator! I finished this book in 2 days and was sad when it ended. Loved it!

  • Kelly Brooks

    I am a big John Grisham fan and this book didn't disappoint. I was also interested to read it because it was a true story. My only complaint is that it was repetitive in parts and was not always sequential when the book would focus on the various people involved. As for the story itself, it truly was unbelievable that the system could fail in so many ways. I listened to this book with my husband who is a retired prosecutor and he was appalled also and couldn't believe some parts were true since federal statutes were not being upheld frequently. Such a sad story.

  • Jacl

    This book was awesome. I drive all day long and this book had me on edge hanging on to every word. Grisham's best work

  • Katherine Herrick

    A sad story because it's true, and just another example of how a justice system fails us if it's littered with dishonest, power-greedy officials like the ones Grisham writes about. The only criticism I have with this book is it seemed to go on a little longer than it needed to. I was sort of played out for the last few hours. John Grisham is a very good writer but he's not a great writer in my opinion. The great writers of true crime like Truman Capote ("In Cold Blood") and the latest one I've found Robert Kolker ("Lost Girls"--excellent, I highly recommend it!) are few and far between, but it takes a while after reading them to work my way down to enjoying just a very good author again. They spoil me and make authors like Ann Rule or Danielle Steele virtually impossible to read. The narrator for John Grisham's first non fiction is good in that he doesn't overact or interject inappropriate passion nor is his voice a monotone that can also diminish the enjoyment of an audio book. You won't be disappointed.

  • Abbey

    I love most of his books, but since this one was a true story it went on and on with just FACTS. No excitement.

  • betty

    Like others I didn't realize this was based on a true story, but I could believe the injustice. I also come from a small town that has issue with blind justice. To the reader that couldn't finish the book just because of the content, wake up to a reality check.

  • cheryld503

    i can't possibly say enough about this book. i recommend it to everyone i talk with. it made me so aware of the wrongs in our criminal justice system, and my heart goes out to these people, and their families. what an incredibly horrible experience for everyone concerned. i was so into this book, i almost didn't want it to end. my hat is off to john grisham. thank you for an amazing story.

  • Jim

    I enjoyed the book, I am always amazed at the injustice so prevelant in our sytem. This is well written, couldn't wait to hear the next chapter, almost like fiction.

  • Anonymous

    This book is very different from the usual John Grisham novel but then real life is hardly comparable to fiction. I did enjoy listening to it as it does show the many problems in exist in our legal systems especially in small towns.

  • Mickey Way

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the Audiobook jury, this one did not live up to MY expectations of an interesting story. But that doesn't mean YOU won't enjoy this story. At your request, Simply Audiobooks will provide you with 5 discs of concrete evidence to review for yourself. I have reviewed these discs, and I find "The Innocent Man"? is guilty of forcing complete strangers to fall asleep against their will. It is now time for you, the listener, to deliberate and decide for yourself if this one is a keeper, or should this novel be condemned to collect dust on the shelf for life.

  • Anonymous

    This was NOT his best work!! If I had another book available I would have sent this one back. Pretty dry and boring.

  • Marlene Alhandy

    Thorough and interesting. A provoking story told in detail. Much better than Grisham's last dreadful book.

  • Edward Weisz

    As always with a John Grisham book, he makes it exciting and does a great job with characters whether true or fiction. However, upon doing research into the events after readign the book, it appears that the book is very biased towards his point of view and omits essential elements of the case

  • Raven Okeefe

    the writing is definitely NOT as good or as involving as Grisham's fiction work, but the subject is terrifying. the "justice" system that we all hope works well most of the time has gaping holes in it, and this book highlights one of the most appalling. we know that the rich and famous get a version of "justice" much different from what the rest of us experience, but the thought that such a total travesty could go on for so long, ruin so many lives, and essentially remain in place is outrageous. i do think the book is a real eye-opener, but Grisham could have used a good editor here. Capote he ain't.

  • Gwen Cash

    I love Grisham's work, but this book was terrible. It is dark & disturbing. I couldn't finish it. I would not recommend this at all.

  • Regan Waler

    This story is painfully slow and does not have the flow that Grisham usually writes with. When I rented it, I didn't know it was based on a true story. I am a huge Grisham fan and was expecting the trypical legal thriller. After an hour, I checked to see whether I was really listenting to a book by Grisham because there was something missing. When I went on line and learned it was based on a true story, it made listening to it easier in that it is not that bad for a history novella. That said, Grisham should stick to what he knows.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! That's all I can say. This has to be his best book even if he gets a little preachy at the end. The only bad part is towards the end there is a change in tense and perspective in writing. It was a little disconcerting until I caught on as to what was/is happening. Oh and if you live in Oklahoma I would be afraid of the cops. Very afraid. I also can't believe some people still have jobs after the fiasco.

  • Christy

    This is a long book to listen too, but well worth it. It's amazing and disturbing at the same. It will definitely open your eyes to the injustices that can occur when the defendant is mentally ill or the police department and district attorneys fail to open their eyes and really see the evidence.

  • Anonymous

    I didn't realize this was a true story. I expected it to be like other works of Grisham where the lawyers come in and save the day. I must be naive. Found it very hard to bear.

  • Jeannie

    A great Grisham book as usual. I felt so frustrated for Ron and Dennis. Thank god for DNA. Just makes you wonder how many were excecuted that were unfairly convicted. Grisham made me feel like I knew every participant.

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting book. It was quite a story and true one too. That made it more interesting. Overall average read, though. I would not bother with it a second time.

  • KD

    This book was eye-opening. The more I listened, the angrier I got at the shoddy prosecution and detective work, and the more I questioned my faith in the system. John Grisham does an excellent job of telling this story -- a story that is too bizarre to be fiction, and more frighteningly, a story that could happen to just about anyone. I highly recommend it.

  • Catherine Copeland

    I normally don't rea nonfiction which is why I've never read any John Grisham. If all his books are as well written as this one then I am now a John Grisham fan. I'd never heard of this case until I read it. I was forced yet again to confront my feelings on the death penalty. Do I embrace the belief that my church professes that all life is precious or do I embrace the idea of an eye for an eye? Is it better that a hundred guilty men go free rather than one innocent man be executed? This is the first Grishman book I ever read. The story swept you up in a dangerous game in which the good guys were not the cops or the elected officials. Is the criminal justice system fair? Have we put do death any innocent people? Did the system work? This book might change your mind.

  • Sandra Oliver

    Put aside the authors name so you can read this with no particular expectations. This is an eye-opening book about the 'justice' system in our country. It goes into detail about the injustices pressed on innocent people. It's really scary that this could happen here.

  • MikeCG

    John Grisham’s first non-fiction book is painful to listen to as, in excruciating and eye-opening (ear-opening?) detail, it documents and bares a virtual conspiracy between police and prosecutors to ignore and suppress evidence of innocence, while fabricating distorted “proof” of guilt, even using the real rapist/killer as a witness but not investigating evidence of his involvement in the crime, and ultimately destroying the lives of two innocent men. It is all the more horrifying because we know the outcome before we start listening, and then endure an inexorable march to the preordained conclusion of innocent men being sentenced to death. This is a wonderfully written and researched book and I highly recommend it, especially to those who believe “it can’t happen here.”

  • grabec

    I thought this book was so good. It truly did make me look at the criminal justice system in a whole new light. It reminded me a lot of an old movie with Al Pachino called " And Justice for All." I was "riveted" and totally "freaked" out with this book. Really stimulated a lot of thoughts in me and I wished I was a memeber of some book chat club where I could have talked about this book. Really worth listening to. Very different for John Grisham but very, very good. Lots of very strong opinions about this story when it was done.

Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

by John Grisham

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