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Devil's Knot
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About the Author

Mara Leveritt has won several awards for investigative journalism, including Arkansas's Booker Worthen Prize for her book The Boys on the Tracks. She is also author of The Mena File, Dark Spell, and Devil's Knot. A contributing editor to the Arkansas Times, she lives in Little Roc

Reviews

Arkansas investigative journalist Leveritt (The Boys on the Tracks) presents an affecting account of a controversial trial in the wake of three child murders in Arkansas. In May 1993, three eight-year-old boys were found mutilated and murdered in West Memphis, a small and tattered Arkansas town. The crime scene and forensic evidence were mishandled, but a probation officer directed the police toward Damien Echols, a youth with a troubled home life, antiauthoritarian attitudes and admiration for the "Goth" and Wiccan subcultures. Amid rumors of satanic cult activity, investigators browbeat Jesse Misskelley, a mentally challenged 16-year-old acquaintance of Echols, into providing a wildly inconsistent confession that he'd helped Echols and a third teen, Jason Baldwin, assault the boys. Leveritt meticulously reconstructs the clamorous investigation and two jury trials that followed. All three boys were convicted on the basis of Misskelley's dubious statements and such "evidence" as Echols's fondness for William Blake and Stephen King. Leveritt, who makes a strong argument that the convictions were a miscarriage of justice, also suggests an alternative suspect: one victim's stepfather, who had a history of domestic violence, yet was seemingly shielded by authorities because he was a drug informant for local investigators. Sure to be locally controversial, Leveritt's carefully researched book offers a riveting portrait of a down-at-the-heels, socially conservative rural town with more than its share of corruption and violence. (Oct. 8) Forecast: This case may be familiar to viewers of HBO, which aired a documentary about it in 1996. True crime fans and readers concerned with miscarriages of justice will want to pick this up. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Devil's Knot becomes the best horror novel you've ever read, one of those that leaves you wondering what new sick dread might be lying in wait on the next page...The monster Leveritt reveals in the end, however, is more terrifying than even the fork-tailed boogeymen conjured by West Memphis police and prosecutors to fit their crime. What Leveritt reveals to us is the most horrible fiend a rational person can imagine when matters of life and death are at stake: the Specter of Doubt.-- "Arkansas Times"
The chronology [of Devil's Knot] is the first time all elements of the case have been assembled in one narrative, which offers surprises, even for those familiar with the events. As such, it is a true public service.-- "Arkansas Democrat Gazette"
Well written in descriptive language, Devil's Knot is an indictment of a culture and legal system that failed to protect children as defendants or victims. Highly recommended.-- "Library Journal"

Arkansas Times investigative reporter Leveritt explores the 1993 West Memphis Three murder convictions, which have been the subject of two HBO documentaries. The book is arranged chronologically, from the crime through the trial, and dispassionately dissects the prosecution's case against three teens who were convicted of the grisly murders of three eight-year-old boys. Leveritt interviewed the principals, reviewed the police file and trial transcripts, and leads the reader to conclude from her exhaustive research (430 footnotes) that the case was botched, improperly based on a single confession from a retarded youth and the defendants' alleged ties to satanic rituals. Well written in descriptive language, the book is an indictment of a culture and legal system that failed to protect children as defendants or victims. Highly recommended.-Harry Charles, Attorney at Law, St. Louis Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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