John Grisham’s “The Innocent Man” Review


John Grisham’s “The Innocent Man” tells the disturbing true story of gritty a small-town murder that ruins the lives of more than just the young girl who was killed. Witness the gripping reality of the flaws of our nation’s legal system and watch as a once healthy and popular man slips into hysteria as he lives out his life in prison for a crime he did not commit.

“The Innocent Man” tells a story of broken dreams, shattered lives, drug and alcohol addiction, gritty murder, and how pathetic our court system can be and how meaningless human lives are in the eyes of our peers. Innocent until proven guilty? That statement will be nothing more than the corpse of something you once believed after reading this shocking true story.


Those of you who know me and know me well would probably never think I’d be one to enjoy legal thrillers, but I read this entire book from front to back a little over a year ago. But I’m not going to lie and say I read it for pleasure, because that would put me in contempt. I read it because I did something illegal and was put on On Site Suspension when I was still in high school, and I just needed something to do while I was bored.

“The Innocent Man” tells the story of a gritty and violent murder that occurred in the 1982 in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma. With no leads to go on, the local police force gets frustrated and pins the murder of Debra Carter on Ron Williamson, a washed up has-been who was once the shining star of the small town. Ron had dreams of becoming the next Mickey Mantle, the next big thing in baseball, the next American Hero. However, Ron was eventually smacked away from finally becoming what he had worked his entire life to be when he discovered a deep love for casual sex and developed a dependence on drugs and alcohol. Ron Williamson was down, never to get back up.

Just when things seemed to be getting a little better in his life, Ron was arrested for, charged with, and convicted for the murder of Debra Sue Carter, completely without base. This was seemingly the final blow to an already broken life, but throughout the book readers are forced to witness every attempt Ron and his family make at clearing his name and rescuing him from his unjust fate.

There is even a moment in the book where a man steps forward and admits to committing the murder Ron has been charged with, but the authorities tell him that they had already apprehended the criminal so the man was obviously wrong. This book will make you sick to your stomach with anger at the ignorance and arrogance possessed by a few men with badges who think they are deities who never make mistakes. And remember, this is a true story. This really happened.

As for the writing itself, the story is told so grippingly that there is almost never down time. Grisham always finds something to tell his readers about while something boring is happening elsewhere and it is very easy to appreciate his “in the meantime” style of writer which ensures there is rarely a dull moment. However, it is still a book written about law, and there are some dull moments and a few points in the book where those unfamiliar with the legal process will have no idea what’s going on. On top of being an amazingly written piece of nonfiction, this book is ridiculously well-researched. It’s almost as if Grisham takes his readers back in time to watch the story of Ron Williamson unfold right before their eyes. You’ll feel like Ron’s friend, you’ll feel like you are a part of the Williamson family, you will laugh and become depressed and feel helpless or hopeful right alongside the other characters in this book, and most notably, you will be infuriated at the people who spit on an already beaten-down man. And remember, this is a true story. This really happened.

Final Words:

This is a great book for fans of legal thrillers and a wonderful read for those who aren’t. John Grisham’s masterful storytelling will take you back in time to watch this horrible real-life story unfold. You will feel mournful when people die, hopeful at the slightest chance of victory, defeated when there is nothing else to look forward to, and fully satisfied when the book ends.


  • Nonfiction story will reveal the truth behind America’s court system
  • Wonderfully told in a gripping manner
  • Rarely a dull moment


  • No matter how it’s told, a book about law will get boring and convoluted every once in a while
  • America’s legal system

Score: 8.75/10 (Great)

Concept: 9.0/10 (To tell the gripping true story of a small town murder and injustice)
Execution: 9.0/10 (You will become attached to the characters and feel like part of the story)
Entertainment Value: 8.25/10 (428 pages with an author’s note)

4 thoughts on “John Grisham’s “The Innocent Man” Review

  1. Pingback: Weekly Recap for April 20th - 25th « Everyview

  2. Really good book, I`ve read most of Grisham`s work. I disagree with one thing though. I didn`t notice any parts when things dragged due to concentration on law. There was down-time, eah, but this entire book was pretty story-driven.

  3. Definitely a great book, my favorite by Grisham. Though I’ve only read a few of his books.

  4. pretty accurate review, Zac. that was a gripping story — Grisham is a master. i didn’t mind the law lapses too much….

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