Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  3,185 ratings  ·  306 reviews

The West Memphis Three. Accused, convicted -- and set free. Do you know their story?

In 2011, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American legal history was set right when Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released after eighteen years in prison. Award-winning jo...more
Paperback, 419 pages
Published October 21st 2003 by Atria Books (first published 2002)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiAssuming Names by Tanya ThompsonThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
True Crime
14th out of 343 books — 463 voters
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
220th out of 1,034 books — 3,294 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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...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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...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
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 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...more
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
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
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...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...more
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...more
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...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 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
This was an upsetting and disturbing book that actually changed my opinion on the death penalty. The book follows the crime, arrest, trial and conviction of the killing of 3 boys in West Memphis. I'm not 100% convinced the three convicted didn't actually committ the murders, but I'm not sure they did either and yet they are in prison for life and one on death row.

I used to be supporter of the death penalty, believing that it was a just penalty for certain crimes. I still believe that in theory,...more
This was a well-researched and polished true crime novel. The writer is a seasoned journalist and she made sure to dot her i's, etc. She talks to basically everyone involved and presents a clear picture of what went on - and makes a strong case for the innocence of the West Memphis Three. My only gripe, and it's a minor one, is that the book ends abruptly in 2002. It then has a few afterwords tacked on to update the reader up until the present day. Now, a lot of that can't be helped - the author...more
Michael Roop
Hey Roop, why is this in the conspiracy theory shelf? Read this book and you will know. I have been a huge supporter of the West Memphis three since the day I found out about them back in the late nineties. I can not buy into the lie that the Arkansas government is feeding the world. They (being the government) have zero remorse for the lies the perpetrated upon these boys, now men; nor the death they are sending these men too. One can almost feel the anger welling up inside of them as they read...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
I'm a person who generally believes in law and order. When someone is convicted of a crime, I generally believe that justice has been done.

This case, the case of the murder of three young boys in West Memphis continues to leave me wondering how any of the young men convicted for these murders were arrested, let alone actually taken to court and found guilty.

The more I read, the more I see, the more I have to say there may very well be an innocent man sitting on Death Row and two other men in ja...more
I was drawn to this story because it happened in Arkansas - where I'm from. I'm pretty sure these three are guilty but the evidence against them should NOT have been enough to send them to death row. I attended lectures by the forensic pathologist who autopsied the boys' bodies and by the lawyer for Jessie Misskelly. It's a very interesting story.
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
I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone out there. This book will stay with me for a long time. Deeply disturbing and scarey that our justice system could fail so horribly. A tragedy of immense magnitude for the victims as well as the West Memphis 3. A definite must read for all!
As I've said before, I'm not real big on true crime stories. However, this one interested me from the start because of all the news/publicity it received. And the book doesn't disappoint. This has got to be one of the most shocking miscarriages of justice ever. Time after time the people who should have been ensuring justice railroaded these kids. It's hard to believe this can occur in our "modern" and "enlightened" world, but it did. And it wasn't until long after the damage was done, and almos...more
I'm incredulous. This book will have me shaking my head for a long time.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Shut Up & Read: West Memphis Three/Paradise Series (Hbo) 3 27 Aug 24, 2013 08:05AM  
  • Almost Home: My Life Story
  • Lethal Marriage: The Unspeakable Crimes of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka
  • The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy
  • The Darkest Night: The Murder of Innocence in a Small Town
  • Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder
  • Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of the Serial Killer Next Door
  • Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters
  • Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster
  • Murder in Little Egypt
  • Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik
  • A Descent Into Hell
  • A Beautiful Child
  • A Death in White Bear Lake: The True Chronicle of an All-American Town
  • Under the Bridge: The True Story of the Murder of Reena Virk
  • Cannibal: The True Story Behind the Maneater of Rotenburg
  • Deadly Innocence
  • Cruel Sacrifice
  • House Of Secrets
The Boys on the Tracks: Death, Denial, and a Mother's Crusade to Bring Her Son's Killers to Justice

Share This Book