Title: The Innocent Killer
Author: Michael Griesbach
Published: February 4th 2016 (originally July 3rd 2014)
Publisher: Windmill Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, True Crime
Length: 304 pages
Source: NetGalley eARC
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
The story of one of America’s most notorious wrongful convictions, that of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who spent eighteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit and now the subject of the hit series Making a Murderer. But two years after he was exonerated of that crime and poised to reap millions in his wrongful conviction lawsuit, Steven Avery was arrested for the exceptionally brutal murder of Teresa Halbach, a freelance photographer who had gone missing several days earlier. The “Innocent Man” had turned into a cold blooded killer. Or had he? This is narrative non-fiction at its finest and the perfect companion read for fans of Making a Murderer.
Like many thousands of other people, I was glued to Netflix when the ‘Making A Murderer‘ series came out. It was one of those shows that sparked debate and made you question everything. Even months later, people are still talking about it and still trying to decide whether or not Steven Avery was actually guilty. With that in mind, I was eager to see what would be revealed within this book, written by one of the lawyers that defended Avery in his first case.
This book was written before the docuseries was released and so it focuses heavily on the rape case that brought Steven Avery to notoriety. I found it fascinating to see the original case in more detail, getting facts that weren’t put across in the Netflix series because its focus was heavily on the murder trial.
I found the insight into the first case to be enlightening. Some of the information I was already aware of because of Netflix, but there was more depth to the case added in the book. Every event was recreated, discussed, and analysed to show the process that was taken by the defence and prosecution at the time. I found it really interesting having this deeper look into things and being able to judge more clearly what had happened.
In contrast to this, there was a very small section at the end of the book relating to the murder trial. I found it to be less informative, and more biased, than the first trial’s coverage in the book and I wondered why that was. Griesbach seems to be making his own opinions about the case – I don’t believe he actually worked on it – and a lot of what he’s put in could probably just be conjecture.
A couple of the things he puts in his analysis of the case don’t seem to add up with what was on the Netflix series, but having not read the court transcripts myself, I can’t say for sure whether or not he is flat out lying about things.
As seems to be the case with everything surrounding the Avery case, this book leaves you with a lot of questions and very little answers about the murder trial itself, but it does give a very thorough look at the rape case that some people might find interesting.
A good companion for the series, but probably to be taken with a pinch of salt.
About the Author
Michael Griesbach is a veteran prosecutor in the state of Wisconsin where the events recounted in his books occurred. He wrote The Innocent Killer as a gripping true crime novel, but also as a challenge to the system. He hopes to leave readers better informed about the inner workings of the criminal justice system and more concerned about those whose lives it deeply affects. He lives in northeastern Wisconsin with his wife Jody and their four children.