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Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted

Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted

by Laura Caldwell, Leslie S. Klinger, Scott Turow, Barry Scheck

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Recalling the great muckrakers of the past, an outraged team of America’s best-selling writers unite to confront the disasters of wrongful convictions.

Wrongful convictions, long regarded as statistical anomalies in an otherwise sound justice system, now appear with frightening regularity. But few people understand just how or why they happen and, more


Recalling the great muckrakers of the past, an outraged team of America’s best-selling writers unite to confront the disasters of wrongful convictions.

Wrongful convictions, long regarded as statistical anomalies in an otherwise sound justice system, now appear with frightening regularity. But few people understand just how or why they happen and, more important, the immeasurable consequences that often haunt the lucky few who are acquitted, years after they are proven innocent.

Now, in this groundbreaking anthology, fourteen exonerated inmates narrate their stories to a roster of high-profile mystery and thriller writers—including Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Laurie R. King, Jan Burke and S. J. Rozan—while another exoneree’s case is explored in a previously unpublished essay by legendary playwright Arthur Miller. An astonishing and unique collaboration, these testimonies bear witness to the incredible stories of innocent men and women who were convicted of serious crimes and cast into the maw of a vast and deeply flawed American criminal justice system before eventually, and miraculously, being exonerated.

Introduced by best-selling authors Scott Turow and Barry Scheck, these master storytellers capture the tragedy of wrongful convictions as never before and challenge readers to confront the limitations and harsh realities of the American criminal justice system. Lee Child tells of Kirk Bloodsworth, who obsessively read about the burgeoning field of DNA testing, cautiously hoping that it held the key to his acquittal—until he eventually became the first person to be exonerated from death row based on DNA evidence. Judge John Sheldon and author Gayle Lynds team up to share Audrey Edmunds’s experience raising her children long distance from her prison cell. And exoneree Gloria Killian recounts to S. J. Rozan her journey from that fateful "knock on the door" and the initial shock of accusation to the scars she carries today.

Together, the powerful stories collected within the Anatomy of Innocence detail every aspect of the experience of wrongful conviction, as well as the remarkable depths of endurance sustained by each exoneree who never lost hope.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Caldwell and Klinger collect 15 “Kafkaesque” stories from exonerated convicts, as told to popular writers of mystery and crime fiction. Sara Paretsky narrates the chilling ordeal of a man threatened and tortured by Chicago PD into a false confession and incarcerated for 11 years. Laurie R. King provides the account of an Army veteran who was convicted of raping a child after being misidentified by witnesses and police operating under the influence of racial bias. In a previously unpublished essay, Arthur Miller argues against capital punishment, using the example of a teenager wrongfully convicted of murdering his mother. The exonerees report PTSD, humiliation, suicidal ideation, and “soul-crushing monotony” while in prison. For one individual who served 25 years, it didn’t end there, as he was forced to register as a sex offender, wear an ankle monitor, and avoid children before his exoneration. Each chapter is introduced with a brief synopsis of what went wrong and ends with an editors’ note containing facts and figures related to issues like prison overcrowding, DNA testing, the evolution of forensic science, and the scourge of inadequate legal counsel. With these stories, the authors and editors provide a list of symptoms for an illness that is plaguing the justice system, bringing desperately needed awareness to the issues involved in wrongful convictions. (Mar.)
Michael Connelly
“Filled with the triumphs and tragedies of the wrongfully convicted,Anatomy of Innocenceis an important book. Every story barrels at us and should both challenge and scare us. They are haunting, harrowing and hopeful.”
Library Journal
That wrongful convictions mar our judicial system with unnerving regularity is, alas, hardly news—but we've never seen this news delivered quite as it is here. A dozen innocent men and women exonerated after being convicted of serious crimes have their stories told by major mystery or thriller writers (e.g., Lee Child and Sara Paretsky), with whom they are matched. Editor Caldwell is the founder/director of the highly regarded advocacy program Life After Innocence at Loyola University Chicago and the author of 14 novels (e.g., Claim of Innocence), while Klinger is a leading expert on Sherlock Holmes.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-11-23
A unique collection of 15 wrongful conviction sagas bound to shake faith in the American criminal justice system.In the past three decades, books about wrongful convictions have become so numerous that they form their own genre. The advent of DNA testing for law enforcement purposes validated the previously discredited statement that American prisons are filled with innocent inmates while the actual perpetrators remain unpunished. Few of the books, however, match this skillful anthology, assembled by Life After Innocence founder Caldwell (The Dog Park, 2014, etc.) and Edgar Award-winning mystery editor Klinger (editor: In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe: Classic Tales of Horror, 1816-1914, 2015, etc.), in which exonerated individuals tell their stories to high-profile authors, most of them known for their fast-paced crime novels. While the names of the exonerees may be unfamiliar to general readers, the names of the authors are better known: Sara Paretsky, Lee Child, Laurie King, and more. Scott Turow and Barry Scheck provide the introduction. Each of the 15 chapters is worthy. Perhaps the chapter combining the highest level of storytelling with the most gut-wrenching detail is Brad Parks' account of Illinois exoneree Michael Evans, wrongfully convicted of the sexual assault and murder of a 9-year-old girl; he served 26 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Each chapter focuses on a specific aspect involved in these wrongful convictions. Parks' account focuses on the jurors who reached the wrong decision, including the chairwoman of the jury, who felt all along that Evans was innocent. Other chapters emphasize dirty cops, craven prosecutors, flawed forensic evidence, mistaken eyewitness testimony, lying jailhouse snitches, noncompassionate judges, and more. One across-the-board theme is the hell of serving prison time while innocent, with seemingly no way out. A searing, unforgettable anthology, with valuable insights provided at the end of each chapter by the editors.

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Liveright Publishing Corporation
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Meet the Author

Laura Caldwell is the award-winning founder/director of Life After Innocence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and the author of fourteen novels, including the Izzy McNeil series, as well as Long Way Home. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Leslie S. Klinger is the best-selling author of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, The New Annotated Dracula, and The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft. Klinger is a practicing lawyer and a member of the Baker Street Irregulars. He lives in Malibu, California.