Wrong­fully con­victed Texan chron­i­cles fight against jus­tice sys­tem

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - THE PLANNER -

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

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