- Ada, Oklahoma

CNHI News Service Originals

October 24, 2006

‘Dreams of Ada’

Robert Mayer book set for re-release today

As the popularity of John Grisham’s latest work, “The Innocent Man,” continues to rise, a book published nearly 20 years ago is also seeing an increase of interest.

“The Dreams of Ada,” by Robert Mayer, which documents Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot’s journey through the criminal justice system after being convicted for the 1984 murder of 24-year-old Denice Haraway, is set for re-release today.

“The reissuing of my book is totally thanks to John Grisham,” Mayer said. “His book mentions ‘The Dreams of Ada’ six times, and he recommends it in his author's note at the end. He called me last spring and told me a lot of people who read his book will want to read mine. When I told him mine was out of print, he personally lobbied his publisher to put it back in print. The first printing is 72,500 copies, which is very large for a reprint.”

During the book’s first release in 1987, ”The Dreams of Ada” sold approximately 150,000 copies in both hardcover and paperback, but was out of print by the mid-1990s.

Mayer, from Santa Fe, N.M., first became aware of the case through his girlfriend.

“The woman I was dating at the time — who became my wife several years after the book was published — has family in Ada,” he said. “I heard about it through them, and began visiting Ada frequently to speak with District Attorney Peterson, with Dennis Smith, who was the chief of detectives, with other officers and prosecutors, as well as with the defendants, their attorneys and their family members. The police and the district attorney were very cooperative during my research, though some were not enamored of the book when it appeared. I assume they will not be happy to have it popping up all over again.”

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