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Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three
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Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three (Justice Knot #1)

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  5,010 ratings  ·  461 reviews
For weeks after the murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas, seemed stymied. Then suddenly detectives charged three teenagers with the killings, despite a lack of evidence. Here, Mara Leveritt unravels this shocking case.
Published November 1st 2011 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 2002)
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Remind me not to wear a black t-shirt next time I'm in Arkansas. For those who have seen the two "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills" documentaries, you should know that the films barely scratched the tip of the iceberg. For those unfamiliar with the case, in 1993 in the town of West Memphis, three 8-year-old boys were found murdered in a ditch near a truck stop. The unbelievable investigative and judicial shit-show that followed resulted in three teenagers being convicted, wit ...more
I am a prosecuting attorney (I put bad guys in jail), and I regularly work closely with the police on investigations. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone (judge, attorney, cop) involved in criminal investigations with life or death consequences. I think I read half the book with my mouth hanging open because I was so shocked at the conduct of the police and so incredibly disappointed at the prosecutors who presented the case in spite of such glaring issues.

There is always pressure
Daniel Koehler
I live in Little Rock and have met Mara several times. She is a terrific investigative journalist and writer of non-fiction. I read her "The Boys on the Tracks" about the suspicious deaths of two young boys for political expediency during the Clinton Administration in Arkansas. A marvelous and chilling book.

Devil's Knot is the story of the West Memphis Three, three Delta teenagers convicted of the ghastly murders of three third graders in 1992, The story is highlighted by gross incompetence on
This book is phenomenal.

I have followed this case for so many years...I live in Memphis, so this happened about 20 miles from my house. I remember everything so vividly and this book is a dead on accurate RELEVANT gem.

If you don't know anything about the West Memphis Three...this book is an excellent starter.

on a side note, I got to meet Damien last month at a book signing in Oxford, MS. and he was a charming humble and very well spoken man. It was a pleasure to get to listen to him speak.

But I
I highly recommend everyone read this book.

First of all, the travesty of justice it describes is outrageous. It will make you angry. It will leave you virtually convinced that three teenage boys have been in prison for almost 20 years, one on death row, for a crime they didn't commit, while a savage, brutal killer goes free. But even IF you read this book and believe they still might have done it, the investigation and trial that put them in prison was clearly, irrevocably flawed. If this can s
First I want to say that I am not a lawyer and nor am I connected to the case. Everything I have found is public knowledge via movies, books and the internet.

I knew very little about the brutal tragedy that struck West Memphis Arkansas. I had noticed this book listed under true crime and added it to my read list. I quickly forgot about it until last week when someone on a message board posted about unsolved crimes. This case was a huge debate on the thread. I quickly watched Devil's Knot and th
it's hard for me to be proud to be an arkansan after reading this book. the examination of corruption--lots of it--revolving around the investigation and trials of the 1993 killings of 3 west memphis 8 year olds is center stage. and it's ugly.
in light of the west memphis three's release in august, i can only think that if i had read this book while they were still in prison, i'd be raising all kinds of hell. it's disgusting and shameful how matters were handled. leveritt has done a tremendous j
Laurie Gray
Journalist Mara Leveritt documents the investigation, trials and appeals of the West Memphis Three (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.) for the murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, on May 5, 1993. With more than 50 pages of endnotes, the events are well-researched and the account well-written, if not neutral. Despite the judge’s rulings, the juries’ verdicts, and the appellate courts affirming the convictions, Leveritt is convinced beyond a reasona ...more
The Story begins in West Memphis, Arkansas, on May 5th 1993, when three 8 year old boys were found brutally murdered. In the very beginning the police started to look into the possibility that these were 'satanic ritual killings', and as one defence lawyer later said, the police got a 'Damien Echols tunnel vision'.

Damien Echols was a 18 year old boy living in poverty (white trash as he himself has said), with a history of mental illness and more importantly, liked Stepehn King novels, wore black
While Leveritt's books offers a mound of information concerning the case that was necessarily left out by the brief Paradise Lost documentaries of Sinofsky and Berlinger, and her comprehensive focus allows her work to exonerate Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley the way the films could not, the one flaw I see in Devil's Knot is its lack of revelation about the personal qualities of the teenagers, with the possible exception of Jason Baldwin, who is shown to be strong and loyal. Devil's Knot also lac ...more
I picked this up for several reasons. For one, I've been hearing about this case from friends of mine for a really, really long time. For another, now that the WM3 have been released, they're turning Devil's Knot into a movie which is being shot in my homestate. (Incidentally, *not* Arkansas.) For a third thing, a friend of mine is going to be in the movie. So when I found the book on sale, I figured what the hell and gave it a shot.

And it... made me unreasonably angry, which is a mark of a boo
"I didn't think there was no possible way they could find us guilty when we didn't do it. Not in America. It's not what I was raised to believe would happen in America." - Jason Baldwin.

You might hold the same beliefs as Jason - I know I had always held to the notion that 'the truth will out' and believed that the justice system would ensure that people accused of crimes would be considered 'innocent until proven guilty', with evidence being a major consideration when investigating crimes. I cou
Leveritt is an Arkansas journalist who covered the initial trial in the local papers. Realizing the preposterousness of the entire affair, she went on to support the three and release this book full of facts, photographs, court records and interviews. A few years earlier, my mom and I spent all of Thanksgiving Day watching my DVD’s of Paradise Lost 1 & 2 (these are two HBO Documentaries by Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger that shine a light on all of the unjust facts of the case. The video I ...more
This book was all over the place for me. It evoked a wide range of emotion from anger, disgust, pity, love, hope, rage, acceptance, shame, and numerous others. It caused me to question how we as a society treat people who have been accused of a crime. In my humble opinion I believe America is no longer a country where the accused are innocent until proven guilty. We have become a bloodthirsty nation that thrives on negativity and revenge. Not by any means stereotyping ALL Americans into the cate ...more
Mara Leveritt gives her best with detailed research of the failed criminal justice system in this eastern Arkansas community following the murders of three 8-year-old boys. This is a story about how murder and fear created chaos, which in turn created desperation by police and prosecutors. Devil's Knot details unethical police work that resulted in three vulnerable teenage boys being accused, then convicted of a heinous crime. It becomes clear that community panic led to the acceptance of a botc ...more
Angela Jones
Omg, I am absolutely addicted to this case now. I have only been able to catch parts of the second HBO documentary but I am going to set aside uninterrupted time to see both films very soon. Knowing that they are now free and having that validation helps when you get to the end of the book and they are still in prison. This book was well written and the facts and statements are all backed up and referenced in the notes that are the last quarter of the book. I can't imagine how long it must have ...more
In 1993 three 8 year old boys were brutally murdered in the Arkansas town of West Memphis. Three teenagers were imprisoned for those murders despite no evidence connecting them to the crimes. Their only crime was to be different; to be interested in metal music, horror novels and to dress in black. Leveritt shows how the police bungled the investigation at every step and ignored any evidence that pointed towards other suspects in this modern day witch hunt. I vaguely remember this case as it occ ...more
Joy Wilson
I knew a lot about this case as it happened in a city I drove through regularly. I am familiar with the locations and Arkansas is my home state. Although it fell after my radar after the convictions, I do recall the fear of satanism and the conversations around town with kids about how to prevent yourself from being a victim of an occult action. I never took it seriously really, but I can certainly see how the fear could take over especially after such a horrific crime that had no leads for week ...more
This book elicited more emotions from me than can really be contained in one review. I had expected to write that it should be required reading for all Arkansans (of which I am one), but I'm reassessing that. I think, especially in light of Leveritt's first afterword of 2003, it should be required reading for all Americans. This book is a brutal, in-depth look at how group-think and mass hysteria can impact people's lives; it's also a requiem for untold lives damaged (and most tragically, ended) ...more
Karen Hopkins
I've followed this horrific story through the years, but this book really took the shocking crime to another level. As if the torture and murder of the three boys wasn't enough, the investigations, arrests, trials and prison stay for the three teens convicted of the murders was a judicial system atrocity. This book is meticulous and organized in it's depiction of the events from the days leading up to the murders until Damien, Jason and Jessie were abruptly set free in 2011. The truly haunting p ...more
Suzie Flohr
This book was great I couldn't put it down.
Even though I’m a longstanding fan of the “true crime” genre, somehow the case at the center of this book had completely escaped my knowledge until my niece mentioned it to me, about the same time the movie bearing the same title was released just a few weeks ago. I finally sat down and read it, and found it “enjoyable” (in the way probably only other fans of this genre can understand) as well as infuriating.

It also greatly reinforces my long-held opposition to capital punishment. It’s not that
Dysmonia Kuiper
I found this book to be extremely well-researched (I have never read so many footnotes to one text in my life) and well-written. However, I didn't learn anything significant from it. Having previously seen the "Paradise Lost" documentary and all three of its sequels, and having previously read Damien Echols's memoir, Life After Death, I was already pretty up to speed on the subject. That said, it was comforting to read something from a journalistic perspective that reinforced both the movies and ...more
Deeply disturbing on many levels and all very true, this book chronicles the murder of 3 young boys in Robin Hood Hills, West Memphis Arkansas in the early 90's and the resulting imprisonment of 3 teenage boys accused of committing these heinous acts of violence. NOTE: Parts of this book are very hard to read. I had to put it down several times because I was crying.

I vividly remember watching this unfold on the news when I was a teenager growing up in Arkansas, and could not believe these boys
this title is outdated, but it served as a pretty comprehensive look at the evidence that was presented in the trials and subsequent appeals filed by the defendants up until the early 2000's...

it was not an easy read...for one thing, the gritty, uncompromising look at the particulars of the crimes was hard in places to look at head disturbing, what was done to these three little boys, that it makes you mentally flinch away...i found myself having to put it down and walk away, take a brea
VERY interesting book. Of course hindsight is 20-20 but reading this it is so hard to believe that these kids were ever arrested let alone convicted. I was disgusted at pretty much every turn, especially by the actions of the Judge, but it also made me pause and think about some of the more recent trials that have been in the spotlight and how the public was appalled when certain individuals were found innocent...was the evidence (or lack thereof) in these cases any better or worse than what end ...more
It's always difficult for me to assign a rating to a book like this. Was it well-written? Yes. Did it make me think? Yes. Was I profoundly disturbed by how American justice can go so wrong? Absolutely. Do I hate that it had to be written in the first place? Definitely.

I began reading this shortly after the release of the West Memphis Three. Having only vague recollections of the murders and the trial from when I was a teenager, I wanted a better understanding of the case. And a better understand
I love true crime books, and this one was pretty well done. I went into this totally ignorant of the storyline, I didn't look up the facts first because I wanted to have an unbiased opinion of the book. Parts of it were a little slow, when they were reviewing all the details of the court preparations, but it definitely held my interest throughout most of it. I still don't know what I believe, if these 3 young men really committed this heinous crime, but there seemed to be a lot of glaring mistak ...more
Ed Eleazer
I read this in 2002 when it first came out, but have re-read it in preparation for a freshman composition class I'm teaching this fall, where the theme is "witch hunts." As other reviewers have pointed out, here, Leveritt is not unbiased, but it is hard to be unbiased in the face of such overwhelming evidence--that these three young men were the victims of a witch hunt quite similar to the day care center trials of the 1990's and ultimately to the Salem witch trials of the seventeenth century. T ...more
Jun 12, 2011 Mendy-Sue rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kelly, Mom and Lisa
Recommended to Mendy-Sue by: Laurie
I give it 4.5 stars minus my usual 1 star deduction for animal cruelty references ( i should have known when i read the reviews suggesting satanic activity!). This book really makes you question our judicial system. I can't say without a doubt the West Memphis Three are innocent (this book was obviously one-sided but the author did a great job laying out the facts supporting the argument) but I do definitely agree that they did not get a fair trial from their peers. So many examples were cited s ...more
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Mara Leveritt is an Arkansas reporter best known as the author of Devil’s Knot (Atria 2002) and Dark Spell, (Bird Call Press 2013), the first books of her intended Justice Knot Trilogy about three Cub Scouts who were murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas and the case of the three teenagers who were convicted of the murders and then, 18 years later--and after pleading guilty--were abruptly set free. A ...more
More about Mara Leveritt...

Other Books in the Series

Justice Knot (2 books)
  • Dark Spell: Surviving the Sentence
The Boys on the Tracks: Death, Denial, and a Mother's Crusade to Bring Her Son's Killers to Justice Dark Spell: Surviving the Sentence

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