Devil's Knot

Devil's Knot

The True Story of the West Memphis Three

Book - 2014
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The guilty verdicts handed out to three Arkansas teens in a horrific capital murder case were popular in their home state ? even upheld on appeal. But after two HBO documentaries called attention to the witch-hunt atmosphere at the trials, artists and other supporters raised concerns about the accompanying lack of evidence. Now, award-winning journalist Mara Leveritt provides the most comprehensive look yet into this endlessly shocking case. For weeks in 1993, after the murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas, seemed stymied. Then suddenly, detectives charged three teenagers ? alleged members of a satanic cult ? with the killings. Despite stunning investigative blunders, a confession riddled with errors, and an absence of physical evidence linking any of the accused to the crime, the teenagers were tried and convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison. They sentenced Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. Ten years later, all three remain in prison. Here, Leveritt unravels this seemingly medieval case and offers close-up views of its key participants, including one with an uncanny knack for evading the law...
Publisher: London, Simon & Schuster UK Ltd,, 2014.
Copyright Date: ©2002.
ISBN: 9781471131066
Characteristics: 421 pages, 8 pages of unnumbered plates : illustrations, map, portraits ; 22 cm.


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Sep 18, 2014

I did not hear about this case until very recently, and I'm not really into true crime novels, but this case caught my attention. Leveritt did an outstanding job of researching documents, interviewing key players, and presenting the facts in an logical order that made the information easy to access. It was a very interesting read, and I actually enjoyed reading the many pages of sources and additional notes.

While the last note states that the three were released in 2011, readers are still left with the question of who committed these horrible acts. The author lays out the numerous errors in the case, but there is no resolution as to who IS guilty. I'm left shaking my head with sadness.

Jun 24, 2014

Probably the definitive book about this situation. Very well written and well documented. Since it was written in 2002, there is nothing about any developments since that time (that's what Wikipedia is for). Although I was not really shocked by the shoddy police work and the rush to judgement on the part of the juries, what really amazed me was the incredible unfairness of the judicial reviews. In some cases, the judge that heard the original case was also hearing reviews, which often included questions about his decisions or conduct (seriously?). The whole story is a real eye-opener. I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5 for the following "mechanical" reasons: (1) The print of the text is very small and my eyes got tired after only a few pages of reading at a time; and (2) although there are extensive end notes and they are clearly referenced in the text, it would have been helpful if the notes had been marked by either page number or divided and identified by chapter.

Sep 25, 2013

For weeks in 1993, after the grisly murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas, seemed stymied. Then suddenly, detectives charged three teenagers—alleged members of a satanic cult—with the killings. Despite the witch-hunt atmosphere of the trials and a case that included stunning investigative blunders, the teenagers, who became known as the West Memphis Three, were convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison and Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. The guilty verdicts were popular in their home state—even upheld on appeal—and all three remained in prison until their unprecedented release in August 2011. In Devil’s Knot, award-winning investigative journalist Mara Leveritt presents the most comprehensive, insightful reporting ever done on this story—one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American legal history. In-depth research, meticulous reconstruction of the investigation, and close-up views of its key participants unravel the many tangled knots of this endlessly shocking case. Acclaimed as “an indictment of a culture and legal system” (Library Journal) and “the best blow-by-blow account available of the investigations and trials” (The Memphis Commercial Appeal), this award-winning account will shape the American legal landscape for years to come. - See more at:

Jun 19, 2013

Was inspired to read this book after seeing the documentary about the case, "Paradise Lost." The more I read about true crime cases and our country's legal system, the less a mystery it is to me how innocent people serve time for things they didn't do, and how guilty ones can get off scott free.

Jul 19, 2012

This book, in conjunction with the HBO documentary Paradise Lost, does show how our judicial system can really mess up. The judge in this case was biased towards the prosecution and makes one realize that when it comes time for voting on local judges, we better do our homework.

Nov 10, 2011

A sad true story of how corrupt the legal system is and how narrow-minded some people are... The book was a bit too drawn out and repetitive, was hard not to loss interest and force yourself to read it through to the end...

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