Wrongfully convicted Texan chronicles fight against justice system
A travesty of the Texas judicial system leads to death-row vindication in Anthony Graves’ memoir, “Infinite Hope.”
Though Graves served more than 18 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, his account is largely without bitterness or outrage — and is all the more powerful because of it. The facts speak for themselves. On a night when the author was with his girlfriend at his mother’s apartment, another man named Robert Carter committed a horrific mass murder, killing his young son, a number of other children, and setting the house on fire in order to minimize the evidence. After his apprehension, he confessed, saying he had an accomplice. He named Graves, who only knew Carter’s name as a man who had recently married one of Graves’ cousins and did not know any of his victims or even the house where the crime had taken place. The author insisted that this was a big mistake, that Carter had lied, and that there was so little to any case against him that he would soon be set free. Unfortunately, he writes, “no one cared about my alibi, or my fate. They wanted someone to blame, and here I was.” He took a polygraph and was told he failed, though no record of those results was kept, and then he was identified in a lineup where none of the others were close in age. Though Carter recanted before the grand jury and said he had lied about Graves, the latter was simply presumed guilty at every stage, despite a very weak case against him. Ultimately, the author found a lawyer who not only believed him, but stuck with him, a Texas Monthly reporter who made his case public, and an appeals court that recognized how much wrong had been done to him. But all along, he had his own inner resources and faith that the truth would set him free.
Graves’ memoir is a wellwritten, matter-of-fact, inspirational The Austin AmericanStatesman has teamed with Kirkus Reviews to bring you select reviews from one of the most trusted and authoritative voices in book discovery. For more reviews from Kirkus, visit kirkusreviews.com. account of how a man prevailed against a criminal justice system that is deeply flawed.
(Graves will speak and sign copies of his book starting at 6 p.m. March 24 at BookPeople. Free to attend; only books purchased at BookPeople are eligible for signing. Information: bookpeople.com.)
Destiny or science?
John Marrs’ debut novel, “The One,” traces the stories of five people who find their soul mates — or do they?
Imagine if you could submit to a simple DNA test and then receive your Match in your email. Not just an online date who might be geographically compatible, but a true and unique genetically destined partner. While the potential long-term benefits may seem to outweigh the negative consequences, the system is far from infallible; as any science-fiction fan could tell you, if it sounds too good to be true, there’s usually a catastrophe lurking at the other end. Marrs’ novel traces five individuals who meet their Matches under varying circumstances and with widely conflicting outcomes. During the course of their romantic adventures (and misadventures), the entire DNA matching algorithm will prove to be susceptible to hacking, also proving that (gasp!) just because something may be driven by science doesn’t mean that it’s free from the world of human error. The philosophy posed by the novel speaks not just to the power of love and the laws of attraction, but also serves as a commentary on today’s world of genetic exploration. Do these breakthroughs simplify our lives, or do they make us lazy, replacing the idea of “destiny” or “fate” with “science” as a larger power that we don’t need to question? These ideas keep the novel moving along and create a deeper level of interest, since most of the narrative threads are fairly predictable. The two exceptions are the psychopathic serial killer who meets his Match and begins to lose interest in killing and the heterosexual man matched with another man, both of whom must then redefine sexuality and love, commitment and family.
“The One” will simultaneously intrigue both romantics and skeptics. The science might oversimplify, but it’s gripping enough to read all in one sitting.
LOS ANGLES TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION
Sarah Webb. 4 p.m. Sunday. The poet speaks and signs “Red Riding Hood’s Sister.” BookWoman, 5501 N. Lamar Blvd. A-105.
Cleo Wade. 7 p.m. Monday. The inspirational writer speaks and signs “Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life.” BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.
Matthew Dowd. 6 p.m. Tuesday. The New York Times bestselling author speaks and signs “A New Way.” Chez Zee American Bistro, 5406 Balcones Dr.
“The One” by John Marrs
“Infinite Hope” by Anthony Graves
“The Writer’s Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction” by Michael Noll
“An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones