Book Review: Indefensible: The Missing Truth About Steven Avery, Teresa Halbach, and Making a Murderer


by Michael Griesbach

New York: Kensington, 2016. $26.00

The Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer (as of this writing unseen by me) has become a runaway hit and the topic of much discussion and outrage. Countless people, including many celebrities, have spoken about how important Making a Murderer is, and what a horrible miscarriage of justice has occurred. The documentary has left many of its viewers convinced that the convictions resulting from the case were a horrific miscarriage of justice and that the justice system that convicted two men was hopelessly corrupt.

Book Review: Indefensible: The Missing Truth About Steven Avery, Teresa Halbach, and Making a MurdererAs a Wisconsin resident, I followed the Avery case closely in the news as it was reported, as the crime was covered extensively by local reporters. I was far more familiar with the case than the average person pre-Making a Murderer. Having followed the coverage of the fallout from the documentary in the Wisconsin news, I got the sense that there might be more to the story than was seen in the film.

Michael Griesbach is a prosecutor who was involved in the case, and he has written another book on Avery—The Innocent Killer—long before Making a Murderer was released. Much of Indefensible is autobiographical as it traces Griesbach’s discovery of the documentary and how it shook his deeply held belief in Avery’s guilt. Griesbach then recounts his own investigation as he casts a fresh eye over all of the evidence, rebuts many of the allegations made in Making a Murderer, and eventually concludes that the authorities got the case right after all.

Indefensible makes it clear that the documentary did not tell the whole story of the Avery trial. Griesbach lists numerous pieces of damning evidence that were not included in Making a Murderer and also indicates that some important clues were distorted or misrepresented. As the book progresses, Griesbach takes on the role of a defense attorney for the Manitowoc justice system and a prosecutor accusing the documentary of presenting a severely flawed case.

The book is bound to be controversial. People who are convinced of Avery’s innocence may not be swayed by Indefensible, but others who are unsure of what to think may be won over by Griesbach’s arguments. Griesbach’s tone is restrained, but throughout the latter chapters of his book, he places special emphasis on his belief that honest, dedicated members of Manitowoc’s law enforcement have been unfairly maligned by Making a Murderer. Indefensible is a compelling read by a man who comes across as being deeply concerned with justice and the truth.