A valuable exposé
By now, there is no excuse for starting to read this book believing that it is written to Grisham's usual formula. This is not a brilliantly written legal thriller. It is an excellent piece of investigative journalism, and it is very clear that John Grisham has invested a huge amount of effort into his investigations.
He tells the true story of several wrongful convictions, concentrating mainly on the central character, Ron Williamson, who spends a considerable proportion of his life on death row and in other detention centres.
Grisham exposes the flaws in the American justice system, which is under constant pressure from the conviction-hungry public who will not allow the truth to stand in the way of their passionate pursuit of somebody to blame for any heinous crime, who, whether innocent or guilty, will receive the heavy punishment that such a terrible criminal would deserve. This leads to deliberate, and institutional, incompetence amongst the investigators and the lawyers.
For me, the book is far too long. I think that Grisham could have condensed the results of his rigorous investigations into about half the pages that he has filled. It is clear, from early on, what the outcomes would be. However, it is a valuable exposé, and I hope that US citizens will use it as the basis for successful campaigns against injustice in The Land of the Free.