Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of capital murder in Alabama. He spent 21 years on death row. He had an alibi-iron-clad, at that. He was locked in a warehouse 20 miles from the crime. He had family support. He had the support of his friends and his church. What he didn’t have was an effective attorney. What he didn’t have was money to hire a decent expert. What he didn’t have was white skin.
The state of Alabama refused, repeatedly, to turn over evidence. The state refused to admit they had the wrong man. Anthony languished until Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative took his case. He was ultimately exonerated and released from prison. Unfortunately, his mother passed the year before he was released.
Anthony pointed out at the end of the book there are still a lot of people on death row. For every ten who are executed one is innocent. Read that sentence again. For every ten people executed – ONE is innocent. That is not a good percentage. It should give every single person pause. Do we really want to execute innocent people? Reading this book made me so angry. It made me feel like chucking the whole system and starting over again. And I work in the system. We have got to change the way we think about crime and punishment in this country. It should NEVER be okay to kill innocent people. It should never be okay for an attorney to be paid $1,000 for a capital case and refuse expenses for experts. The system isn’t supposed to be rigged in favor of one side, but increasingly, it is.
I loved this book. I loved Anthony. His mother, his best friend, and his faith got him through the dark years. He was able to survive on death row and bring humanity to the men who served with him. This book made me so angry. It made me sad. It made me cry. It made me happy. I can see why Oprah picked it for our book club and I’m glad it got picked for ours.
After I finished Loot in the hospital last week, I started The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton. It’s a good book. But I’m having a hard time with it. I’m sure it’s not the book. I just haven’t felt like reading much this last week. It happens every few months or so. Every book I pick up doesn’t hold my interest. I start and stop like ten different books. Eventually, I know I will find one that holds my attention. I’m just frustrated because I don’t feel good and haven’t been reading and, thus, haven’t been blogging. Not that I’m really good at it anyway. But I made a commitment to myself to post more than just reviews here. Now is my opportunity.
So, I’m throwing this out to anyone who reads this. How do you get yourself out of a reading rut or a book hangover? Is there any thing that is tried and true and works for you? Do you just wait until your attitude improves? I’m interested to know how other book works deal with this very frustrating thing.
So far, I’m just forcing myself through The Sun Does Shine. It’s the book club book and I need to pass it to my mom when I’m done. I will finish it this weekend. And I’m going to try not to let my mood influence of my feelings about the book.
Ben is an art historian. He gets a call from his friend who runs a pawnshop, saying that a guy came in and pawned what he thinks is a very expensive painting. The painting is a Velasquez, which was part of a truckload of paintings that went missing during WWII. When Ben goes back to his friend’s house, the friend has been murdered and Ben is attacked.
This is the set-up for Loot by Aaron Elkins. It is a mystery and a thriller. It has three of my favorite things, a murder, Nazi-looted art, and page-turning suspense. As Ben is starting to investigate Simeon’s murder, he gets a fax from Albrecht Stetten, an Austrian Count, who claims the Velasquez is his. He also claims he got a letter from a Czech art dealer who claims to have another Velasquez, belonging to Stetten, and part of the lost truck.
Ben goes to Austria, St. Petersburg, Budapest, and back again to try to track the art and find the missing paintings. I did not see the end coming – which is the best kind of ending.
Other than some unfortunate typos and type-setting errors, the book was really good. It was a tightly woven plot with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep you interested, but not enough to confuse you. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.