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Extended Audio Sample Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three, by Mara Leveritt Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,390 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mara Leveritt Narrator: Lorna Rave Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“Free the West Memphis Three!”—maybe you’ve heard the phrase, but do you know why their story is so alarming? Do you know the facts?

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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The abuses of the criminal justice system shown here are so blatant—and so profoundly tragic—that they would be hard to believe were it not for the depth and evenhandedness of Mara Leveritt’s reporting.”

    Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking

  • Devil’s Knot is the brutal, riveting story of the Robin Hood Woods murders and the amateur justice meted out in the subsequent trial and sentencing. The true horror of Leveritt’s well-written book is that this barely believable fate could potentially befall any American.”

    Henry Rollins, American singer-songwriter, artist, and actor

  • Devil’s Knot…leaves you wondering what new sick dread might be lying in wait on the next page, one of those that telegraphs the frustration and fear of its characters through the cover like a chunk of iron struck with a mallet. The monster Leveritt reveals in the end, however, is more terrifying than even the fork-tailed bogeymen 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

  • “An affecting account of a controversial trial in the wake of three child murders in Arkansas…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.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “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

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Margi | 2/15/2014

    " An absolutely amazing story about two awful crimes. The murder of three young boys and the witch hunt that occured after which lead to the conviction of three innoccent youths. WOW!!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Tessa Foreman | 2/14/2014

    " I read this book after reading "Life After Death" by Damien Echols, one of the teens convicted of murder in this case. The one sentenced to death. I knew enough about the case prior to reading Echols' book that I believed that the 3 had been wrongly convicted. I just kept thinking, though, that surely the cops, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, had some reasonable foundation upon which they made made this horrible mistake. It couldn't have been based on absolutely no evidence at all. It just couldn't have happened because of bad cops, inept attorneys, and stupid juries. After reading this book, no doubt is left. That is exactly what happened. This book was well researched and well written. They must be exonerated. The person or persons who really committed this horrible crime must be brought to justice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Brian | 2/3/2014

    " If the three Paradise Lost films made you angry, this book will have you absolutely livid. The judge in this case (who is now a state Senator in AR) should be disbarred. A lot has happened since this book was published (the WM3 were released in an Alford plea)--would be great to have a sequel covering the legal machinations and backroom dealings involved in the plea. Also would be great if the state of AR and the West Memphis police had actually put some effort into solving the case--shoddy, shoddy, shoddy. Leveritt's extensive documentation makes for compelling testimony--a shame that the trials weren't as thorough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Christopher Cook | 2/3/2014

    " Like a lot of others are saying in their reviews, this book is incredibly disturbing. It took me quite a while to read, and part of the reason is because it is indeed so difficult to read. It's not difficult as in challenging but difficult as in disturbing, especially near the beginning of the novel when the focus is on the boys' murders. The author of the book, Mara Leveritt, does an incredible job of laying out the facts, and the hours that she had to have put into conducting research for this book amaze me. This book not only goes to show how corrupt and unjust the legal system can be and often is but also demonstrates what can happen when tragedy hits and people need someone to blame. It is an incredibly sad, disturbing and thought-provoking book that takes you on an emotional ride that you will never forget. "

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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. A contributing editor to the Arkansas Times, she lives in Little Rock.