Greenville serves as backdrop for ‘The Network’

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The City of Greenville is no stranger to the realm of entertainment, and now the real-life Camellia City will serve as a backdrop in the fictional pages of author Peter Schmitt’s new book, “The Network.”

The book centers on the life of Michael Tyler, a fictional Greenville resident whose life is flipped upside down after being wrongfully convicted of the murder of a Montgomery television news and features reporter and given the death penalty.

While awaiting his fate on death row, Tyler sets out to overturn his own conviction by earning his law degree and passing the bar exam, all while behind bars.

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Meanwhile, a network of college alumni is working behind the scenes to help him avoid his fate.

Schmitt, a Wisconsin native, based his fictional account on nearly three decades of living in Montgomery and the neighboring areas.

His tale of the injustices of the South is also partially derived from his interest in the death penalty itself and its applications.

Schmitt dug into the history of the death penalty in Alabama and, following a visit to the Holman Correctional Facility and a chance meeting with an inspirational friend on death row, it was enough to get the creative juices flowing.

“The book centers on a very controversial law that Alabama has,” Schmitt said.

“It’s one of three states that allows jury overrides.  For instance, let’s say a guy is convicted of first-degree murder and a jury says ‘well, we’re going to give him life without parole.’ Circuit judges have the right to overturn the verdict and say ‘I think he should get the death penalty.’  Florida and Delaware (the other two states) rarely use it, and I think that, since the repeal of the death penalty in 1976, there have probably been close to 100 overrides in Alabama, and a majority of them have been upheld as they go through the appeal system.”

And though writing a book about a topic as divisive as the death penalty might seem like taboo for some, it was never a matter of concern for Schmitt.

Instead, his book offers a unique perspective on the subject as well as some eye-opening details concerning the death penalty’s history, particularly in the state of Alabama.

But above all else, Schmitt’s goal is to entertain as well as inform.

“It’s a good story — its is a very dark part of our lives, but I tried to add a little humor to it that maybe takes your attention away from the death penalty and enjoy a laugh once in a while,” he said. “It’s a mix of fact and fiction, and a little humor too.”

“The Network” is on sale now from for $19.

To find the book in the site’s extensive catalog, search by both the title of the book as well as the author’s name.