Customer Reviews


202 Reviews
5 star:
 (136)
4 star:
 (35)
3 star:
 (14)
2 star:
 (6)
1 star:
 (11)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


149 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and much-needed
I'm fascinated by the West Memphis Three case, but the advocacy nature of so much of the available information (the documentaries, the wm3.org website) has always left me with the feeling I'm not getting the whole story. The main figures in the West Memphis and Arkansas justice system have long said that the movies and website skirt the true facts, and if those facts were...
Published on October 11, 2002 by Brian Flemming

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dry & tedious
A really dry read, with a lot of information to sift through. I still haven't been able to finish it!
Published 1 month ago by Lara Long


‹ Previous | 1 221 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

149 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and much-needed, October 11, 2002
By 
I'm fascinated by the West Memphis Three case, but the advocacy nature of so much of the available information (the documentaries, the wm3.org website) has always left me with the feeling I'm not getting the whole story. The main figures in the West Memphis and Arkansas justice system have long said that the movies and website skirt the true facts, and if those facts were known people would understand that the guilty parties are in prison. Leveritt wisely took this assertion as the premise of her book--she decided to put it to the test. She has done a brilliant, dispassionate job of it. My understanding of this case had deepened tenfold by the time I finished reading the book (as well as its exhaustive end notes). Every opportunity is given to advocates of the boys' guilt to bring to light those missing "true facts." It is utterly horrifying to see how this process actually casts more doubt on the case that the prosecutors and police created. The horror is compounded by the obvious fact that Leveritt is not presenting a slanted version of the story. She goes above and beyond to find those crucial "true facts" that will establish guilt. But it seems they don't exist.
The documentaries, website materials and other information about this case (I've been semi-obsessed with it since 1996) have always left vague, nagging doubts in my mind. This book erased them.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tremendous Service To The World, January 13, 2003
By A Customer
Having followed this case since 1996 and read much of the publically available documentation on the WM3.org site, I can say that Mara Leveritt's book is meticulously researched - more so than most of the Pre-Mallett legal cases except perhaps Stidham's - and the fact that it is by a respected Arkansas journalist ought to help put to rest the notion that only "outsiders who don't understand" would support the WM3.
Leveritt does a commendable job on two counts - showing Arkansans that not only "outsiders" believe that the WM3 cases were travesties of justice, and showing the "outsiders" that not all Arkansans are as biased, incompetent, self-serving, and self-deluded as the officials in Crittenden County involved with the WM3 case seem to be.
It is preposterous that people continue to believe Misskelley's confessions after reading their transcripts and circumstances. You don't need to be an expert like Leo & Ofshe (whose papers can give much more detailed arguments as to why Misskelley's confession is bogus) to realize that the confession is coerced, and the specifics given in it are produced by Det. Ridge and fed to Misskelley. If you can read Chapter 7 in this book and still believe that this confession is valid, you've either not paid attention to the transcripts (feel free to ignore anything that you may consider Leveritt's "interpretations") or you have such preconceptions about the defendants' guilt (and/or the infallibility of Police and Prosecutors) that even scientific evidence would not convince you.
You can't get through this book without feeling that there are serious grounds for a retrial, and that there is more than a reasonable doubt as to the defendants' guilt. Leveritt brings to light serious issues which were left out of the 2 HBO documentaries, regarding Judge Burnett's handling of the case, stemming from documents and evidence which were revealed after the trial and even after the completion of both films. Even if the defendants are guilty (which I do not, based on all I've read, believe they are), they would still deserve a retrial based on the bias, irregular procedural decisions of Judge Burnett, and on evidence that later came up (which, among other things, cast serious doubts on the testimony of Carlson and Hutcheson, and introduce further scientific evidence based on the work of B. Turvey and Dr. T. David, despite the state's further questionable attempts to claim they already discounted this evidence). New DNA testing and other reanalysis techniques, granted by a new Arkansas State Law, may also finally bring this case out of the realm of the circumstantial and into the
evidential.
Regarding John Mark Byers, it is appalling that that man is still walking the streets and not in prison. Even if he did not kill his son (which, from what I've read and seen in the documentary films, I believe he did), his myriad of other crimes should have landed him behind bars a long time ago. You can not read about Byers, or see him on film, and think he's a safe person to walk the streets. Leveritt is not the first to propose Byers as the real killer, but she makes the notion more compelling through bringing up a slew of facts which were previously all put together into a coherent picture (as Fogelman himself has said of the case against the WM3, you need the full picture).

I find it depressing but not suprising that the parents of Michael Moore and Stevie Branch can continue to defend Byers and the Crittenden County officials after supposedly seeing the two documentaries and reading the book. I can only assume it is too painful for them to actually view or read the material, and they continue to simply reiterate the beliefs they came to when people they thought they could trust claimed that the killers of their boys had been found and convicted. To say they should want to see real justice done for their boys is easy for WM3 supporters, but they probably think it already has. However, as Leveritt mentions, if a parent can bear to do the research into the truth, even they can be convinced that justice is left undone - Chris Byers' biological father (R. Murray) has come out publically as saying that he believes that the WM3 are innocent.
If you care about the truth rather than emotional ties to the notion that the defendants "seem evil" (as quoted from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) and must therefore be guilty, you should read this book (which, according to its author, did not start out as an attempt to exonerate the defendants, but rather to find the truth that the state kept saying was evident if the "media" would just pay attention and stop listening to the WM3 supporters). It is not "Pro-WM3 Propaganda" from some "outsider who don't know the facts" but a serious, and disturbing, look at the case by a distinguished professional reporter from Arkansas who came to her conclusions by analyzing the (publically available) facts of the case from transcripts of interview, trials, appeals, etc. I can not recommend it highly enough for anyone who cares about this case, or who is interested in how American justice can go horribly wrong.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


71 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly Disturbing, December 2, 2003
By 
This review is from: Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three (Paperback)
I suppose there are hundreds of cases such as this hidden away in American history justice files - sensational crimes, creating mass hysteria, law enforcement officials desperate to catch a break and solve terribly violent murders. What is most profoundly disturbing about "Devil's Knot - The True Story of the West Memphis Three," a well-researched and eye-opening account by Mara Leveritt, is there is no comfortable resolution to this case.
If the three teenagers who were convicted in the slayings of three eight-year-old boys in 1993 are truly guilty - as the juries found them - then it is a sad testament to the ever-decreasing humanity existing within the interstate wasteland of faceless trailer parks, strip malls and fast food dives. However, if these three anti-social teens were railroaded simply because they were counterculture, adorned in black listening to Metallica and Black Sabbath while perusing Anne Rice, then this morbid tale is an example of a modern-day witch-hunt akin to the Salem Witch Trails hundreds of years ago.
Has justice been served in West Memphis, Arkansas - a small, faceless Southern town near the banks of the Mississippi River? Someone murdered those three innocent boys in or near the woods outside of town. But is that someone truly behind bars?
When reading "Devil's Knot," it is abundantly clear these law enforcement officials had little experience dealing with a violent case such as this. The crime scene was contaminated, officers didn't follow leads, interviews were not recorded, evidence was lost, witnesses were threatened, body conditions leaked to the press. Most disturbing of all, there seemed to be an inability by these desperate officials to believe a God-fearing resident of their community - one of them - could ever murder three boys in this brutal a fashion.
"It had to be someone who is not one of us. Someone who does not believe in God."
When terrible crimes like this happen in our society, there is always an instinctive reaction to find a boogey man - some kind of monster not one of us. Damien Echols, goth and counterculture, with a creepy (though creative) presence fueled by depression and smalltown restraint, made the perfect boogey man for a wounded community trying to understand and cope.
It is clear when reading "Devil's Knot" that Damien fueled much of this talk, and relished his role as eventual goth martyr. It is also clear mentally handicapped Jessie Misskelley, Jr. was intimidated and taken advantage of during his 11-hour ordeal when he eventually implicated himself, Damien and Jason Baldwin in the murders. The confession itself is so unconvincing as to be surreal. And the scant evidence - some of which was discovered or found months after the murders, was never scientifically related or matched to a single wound on the victims' bodies. But drop the name of Satan or Cult into a hysterically uneducated, conservatively religious town needing, if not wanting, to lynch someone for these murders, and all bets are off. All workings of a fair justice system are suddenly crippled. Damien and company made the perfect boogey men. Of course, Damien and company could truly be the boogey men we have always feared since the beginning of time......since the days of Salem Witch Trials.
From all sides, this is an ugly story. As America, one way or another, we should be ashamed. "Devil's Knot" documents this in perfect fashion.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, July 3, 2003
By 
Ksuzy (Washington DC) - See all my reviews
The author says she wants to provide all the details, and that she does. I can't quite say she did it in a completely unbiased manner. For example, she spends a lot of time writing of their time in prison. This is perfectly okay with me, as I think it added to the book tremendously and helped to make the teenagers more human. I was even moved to tears. She is clearly on their side, however, but doesn't seem unable to consider the facts. She documents all of her work with so much evidence and almost 400 endnotes. She interviews hundreds of individuals and had access to documents that had never been seen before. She even reports on what could be some pretty damning evidence, in my opinion, which unfortunately was all that the juries were allowed to hear in some cases. She also provides access to all the details that the juries did NOT have. Much of the information that could have changed the outcome of the trials for these three teenaged boys was surprisingly supressed by the judge. During the trial portions, I literally could not put this book down and found myself reading aloud from it to others. This book should be required reading for anyone who thinks we have an impartial justice system in the U.S.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe we'll know soon, May 14, 2005
By 
Carol (Walnut Creek, CA. USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three (Paperback)
DNA testing may soon tell us if any of these three were involved in the crime. You can find out sooner by reading this book.

That the police can lie about a polygraph result to badger a retarded kid into confessing and then the defense is not allowed to show at trial that the kid actually passed that polygraph? Something very wrong about that.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Billy, June 22, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Mrs. Leveritt does a wonderful job of showing the absurdity of this 1994 trial. She asks the hard questions that the people of West Memphis, Arkansas didn't bother exploring when this horrible murder took place. Whether if you believe they are guilty or not, the bottom line is that the evidence was not there to convict these three teenagers. This is my personal belief after reading Leveritt's book, watching the documentaries, and researching this case on-line. If you want to better understand this bizarre case I urge you to read this book. The author goes into great detail to help the reader gain a better grasp of the events that took place in West Memphis, Arkansas.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre and astonishing case; excellent reporting, December 30, 2007
This review is from: Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three (Paperback)
Since I watched Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, I have been learning what I could about the case of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelly ("The West Memphis Three"), and Mara Leveritt's book compiles a vast amount of information on the case-- a case that just gets stranger at every turn.

The major drawback I could see was that Leveritt seems to assume the three are innocent. I lean toward thinking that they are, but there are still some odd facts that need to be resolved for me to completely believe that they are. She hints at the fact that there is evidence pointing to the teens' guilt, but also points out that, frustratingly, the police investigators who hint at this refuse to speak openly about it. Whether or not they are guilty, the amount of secrecy, bungling, and prejudice surrounding this case is infuriating, and all but unbelievable in a country where citizens, if they are to be sentenced, must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Leveritt also weakens her argument by focusing on John Mark Byers, stepfather of one of the victims, as one of the only other suspects. Byers has certainly lived an outlaw's life, and made many bizarre and self-incriminating statements (for instance, that he himself had been tortured as a child in a way that was very similar to the way the three 8-year-old boys were murdered). However, recent DNA evidence seems to link Terry Hobbs (stepfather of another of the victims) to the scene of the crime, but he is hardly mentioned in Leveritt's book. In all fairness, she couldn't have foreseen this development, but I hoped that she would investigate each of the victims' families in more depth.

I highly recommend this book, mostly because I would like people to know about the case of the West Memphis Three, but also because the case is well-told and highly interesting.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I wish I could give this 5 stars!, December 13, 2007
This review is from: Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three (Paperback)
If you are interested in true crume, justice, or specifically the case of the West Memphis Three, this is a must read book. Leveritt lays out the case meticulously and endeavors to present an unbiased look at an extreme miscarriage of justice. I would love to give the book five stars but the book does have one major flaw: it is the most annoyingly written book I've ever encountered. Instead of writing a seamless book with a few end notes, Leveritt writes half of the book in the end notes, causing the reader to constantly flip back to the notes in order to read some key piece of information. There is no logical reason for this end note oddity and it makes the book seem much longer and a bit tedious.

The above objection aside, this book is truly one to read if you are even slightly interested in the case of the West Memphis Three.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping true life story, March 5, 2013
This review is from: Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three (Paperback)
A gripping true life story of the West Memphis Three, Mara Leveritt wrote a honest and revealing look the murder, investigation, trial and appeals. A horrific story the starts with the brutal murder of 3 young boys, and leads to the arrest and conviction of 3 innocent teenagers as the detectives fumble the investigation, and have to create a scenario in which to frame someone for the murder.

Since it was never proven in court that the 3 accused were innocent, the last statement is my belief, not proven in court. But reading the book, it is shocking how little evidence they had in the murder trial, and how much the judge allowed the prosecutor to get away with. I would guess, given any other judge, prosecutors and detectives, these men would never have been convicted and sent to jail. It's sad that while 3 innocent men spent 18 years behind bars, the original murders are still unsolved.

Good if you like true life mysteries, and luckily this one has a good ending (via NYtimes). (note: this book was published in 2002, so if you read it, be sure to read the current news stories to learn about recent events.)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars greatly done, February 24, 2013
This review is from: Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three (Paperback)
I love this book. Getting 2 read all the mess up in the justice system and how evidence is miss placed or never taken. Amazing. Glad all 3 we released and able 2 live freely. Wish true killer wad found.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 221 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three
Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt (Paperback - October 21, 2003)
$17.00 $11.20
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.