“If I wrote The Innocent Man as a novel, folks probably wouldn’t believe it.”
That’s popular novelist John Grisham in the opening of the trailer for the new Netflix true crime documentary series that’s based on his 2006 non-fiction book of the same name. Like the book, the series focuses on the killing of two women — Debra Sue Carter in 1982, and Donna Denice Haraway in 1984 — in Ada, Oklahoma, and the controversial convictions that resulted from them. With a population of around only 17,000 residents, the murders rocked the small town, as many of its residents had ties to the victims. Thus, swift justice was in high demand, and (sadly but not shockingly) corrupt justice system shenanigans followed.
Grisham — the author of numerous legal fiction bestsellers like The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and A Time to Kill — was so floored by the cases that they inspired him to write the only non-fiction book he’s ever written. “We just don’t expect the police to play dirty…it’s all about winning,” he says in the trailer. “And along the way, if the truth gets blurred, or twisted, that’s too bad.” Filmmaker Clay Tweel directs the series (Tweel’s 2016 documentary, Gleason, is one of my all-time favorites).
So if you were looking for another Making a Murderer or The Staircase-type thing to binge on during the holiday season this year, this could be it. The Innocent Man will begin streaming on Netflix on December 14.