Also of interest…in crimes and punishment

A Wilderness of Error; A Death in Italy; Life After Murder; Life After Death

A Wilderness of Error

by Errol Morris (Penguin, $30)

Errol Morris, whose 1988 film The Thin Blue Line helped exonerate a Texas man convicted of murder, has written a “detailed re-examination” of the 1970 case against ex–Green Beret Jeffrey MacDonald, said Laura Miller in Morris is “like a dog with a bone” when combing through old evidence, and though he can’t say MacDonald didn’t kill his family, Morris is convinced he was railroaded by MPs and prosecutors. “By the end of this consistently engaging book, I was, too.”

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A Death in Italy

by John Follain (St. Martin’s $26)

Investigative reporter John Follain has written a “remarkably” fair-minded account of the Amanda Knox murder case, said Alexander Theroux in The Wall Street Journal. Based on case files and hundreds of interviews, Follain’s version of the events surrounding the 2007 stabbing death of Knox’s British roommate is built around a vivid portrait of the young woman initially charged with the crime. Follain’s Knox is “eccentric, obnoxious, and astonishingly self-centered,” but she’s no killer.

Life After Murder

by Nancy Mullane (PublicAffairs, $27)

“Stepping back into society after decades behind bars can be exhilarating—and jarring,” said Steven Levingston in The Washington Post. Following five California murderers after they’ve been paroled, journalist Nancy Mullane “captures moments of startled re-entry with vivid detail” and uses the convicts’ stories to build a case for easing parole restrictions. Dangerous policy, perhaps, but of 1,000 murderers freed in California in the past 21 years, none have murdered again.

Life After Death

by Damien Echols (Blue Rider, $27)

Re-entry can be even more difficult for the innocent, said Antoinette Brinkman in Library Journal. Freed last year after years of appeals, Damien Echols spent 18 years on death row as the supposed ringleader of the “West Memphis Three,” teenagers wrongfully convicted of murdering three other boys in an alleged satanic ritual. “Though its chronology is sometimes choppy,” Echols’s memoir is a “bitterly lyrical portrayal of how an innocent man can slip through the cracks of the legal system.”

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