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The Dreams of Ada Hardcover – April 16, 1987

62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A miscarriage of justice, in Mayer's unconvincing view, occurred in the Oklahoma town of Ada when two young men, Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot, were accused of the 1984 rape and murder of Denice Haraway, a newly married 24-year-old grocery clerk, for which they were sentenced to death although no body was found. The men repudiated their confessions, which were extracted by allegedly coercive police officers, claiming that they were recounting dreams. In suspenseful style, journalist-novelist Mayer recreates in minute detail the investigation and trial along with character and actions of those concerned with the casevictim, the accused, families, witnesses, authorities and outraged townspeople. Haraway's body has now been found, and the two men on death row await a new trial before a court of appeals. Photos not seen by PW. 25,000 first printing.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is a focused glimpse of the criminal justice system, a journalistic study of the disappearance of a young woman in Ada, Oklahoma, and the subsequent arrest and trial of two men suspected of kidnapping, raping, and murdering her. A jury convicted the two men without any eye witnesses, and without a body, a murder weapon, or the implicated vehicle. Mayer looks inside the various elements of the systemlaw enforcement, the work of the district attorneys and defense lawyers, and the responsibilities of the judge and the juryand reveals how this system, and an obsessed and overly zealous public, can lead to injustice. Mayer does an excellent job depicting all sides of the story thoroughly and objectively. The reader is left with an eerie, frightening view of our criminal justice system, which still holds these two men on Death Row.Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svces., Wondervu, Col.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1St Edition edition (April 16, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670810797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670810796
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,217,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By David Chopin on February 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read many true crime books in my life.
Out of these books I would estimate 10% qualify as truly excellent or great true crime books.
This is one of those books.

A Book Review should not be debating the guilt or innocence of the suspects mentioned in the book.

What the average reader wants to know is will this book keep me up all night turning the pages?

The best true crime books are better than their fiction counterparts because the things people do to each other are more unbelieveable than anything a fiction writer could invent.

This book qualifies as a book that will keep you up all night and the next day when you try to read it while eating lunch.

My sympathies are certainly with the relatives of the victim but nevertheless this is one of the best True Crime books I've ever read.

By the way, my secret to finding the best true crime books is to look at the bottom of the outside cover of the book. If the book was a Book of the Month Selection or an Edgar Award Winner or the book. (This book was an Edgar Award Nominee) You won't be sorry.

Here are 5 others that will keep you up all night:
1) Minds of Billy Mulligan
2) Zodiac
3) Unveiling Claudia
4) Zebra
5) Careless Whispers
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By TundraBee on November 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mayer's missive about miscarriage of justice in Ada, OKlahoma, has been re-released to coincide with best-selling legal thriller author (and attorney) John Grisham's first foray into non-fiction True Crime, *The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town.* Although chronicling different crimes and different cases, they occur on common ground. Both constitute a grippingly nauseating expose of Ada, America, run totally amuck. (Be afraid. Be very afraid that this can and IS happening right here, in the "Land of the Free") In the Afterward to this update, (no pictures :-( Mayer aptly describes the obscenity of District Attorney Bill Peterson (WHAT?!? He's still there, in his absolute power?!? Proving what they say about absolute power - it corrupts absolutely) and his band of Good Old Boys as "Kafka in Oklahoma."

Coerced, by interrogators who would make the SS & KGB proud, into dreaming up implausibly impossible "dreams" of what could have happened to a missing convenience store clerk, 2 then-young men have been matriculating in the Oklahoma prison system for over 20 years now.

This reviewer, graduate of the University of Oklahoma's College of Law, is simply dumbstruck. I have dreams of Peterson storm-trooping through his Pontotoc County Courthouse to the swirling strains of "Darth Vader's Theme." As another son of the South would ask:

People of Pontotoc County, What Are You Thinking?

And shame on the rest of you all, Oklahoma, for allowing this boil on the buckle of the Bible Belt to not merely fester, but prosper.

Both books should be required reading for those who profess to believe in Liberty and Justice for All.

[and see]

/TundraVision, Amazon Reviewer
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By frankie088 on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read this book well over a decade ago when Tommy told me about it in a letter. I knew both of these men fairly well and spent a great deal of time with them in the year before this crime occurred, particularly Tommy. Karl was a little "different" (mentally slow) but he was always kind to me and Tommy somewhat protected him because of what Karl had been through with his mother's death. They had many opportunities to hurt me as they spent a great deal of time in my apartment and I had been over to Tommy's mothers' home a couple of times and his brother's home on several occasions - I moved away from Ada just a few weeks before Donna (who I did not know) was killed. I also knew (or knew of) most of the other individuals in the book...and if I had to choose who would be most likely to commit a murder, Tommy would have been the last one I would have ever chosen. When I knew Tommy he was one of the gentlest souls I'd ever known - I can still see him talking and playing with his pet bird and how obvious it was that he valued life, even that of a a small creature. I don't believe he did it and I will never believe it. This book will keep your attention...and it will capture your heart as well.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Heather Negahdar on January 29, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Spring became summer in Ada. The fields in the outlying areas were green. Lilacs and hollyhocks and roses took turns blossoming on the small lawns that front most of Ada's houses. They bloomed on the large ranches surrounding the towns, and near the small working-class houses and in colored town, which is what the small black section is still called.
Stories about the case in the Ada News stopped in mid-May; but members of the Haraway family called the police frequently- every day in the early weeks- to see if there was any news."

Dreams of Ada is a true crime story which will have you turning the pages all night and you will find it very hard to put down. The author Robert Mayer has given us a detailed account of this crime and also about the interrogations and the trials.
The disappearance of Denice Haraway a young married woman working at a convenience store while attending college, sent the entire community of Ada and beyond into a tailspin. No one could find out how Denice just disappeared off her job one night at the convenience store, never to be heard of again. Was she raped and robbed, or was she murdered for any particular reason? And if not that, was she seeing someone else and just wanted out of her marriage to Steve Haraway, deciding to walk off into the twilight with another man and a new life? Whatever the conclusion, the police was not getting anywhere fast, and being pressured, they made their arrests. Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot were to be the arrested. I will not venture to go into any detail about the inquiries, the testimonies, the trial or the verdict. This is a book that has much food for thought and it stays on your mind, even after you have read these 512 pages. Thank you Mr. Robert Mayer, for a well-written work of non-fiction. It certainly broke my heart.
Reviewed by Heather Marshall Negahdar (SUGAR-CANE 28/01/07
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