During one of my six month cruises in the Navy, I read American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I’m not necessarily going to pontificate on that book in detail, other than to say that some of the violence in its pages was graphic enough for me to set it down periodically and go find pictures of rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns to remind me there is good in the world too.
Devil’s Knot is the first book since then to receive the same treatment. I am in no way demeaning the book and actually would recommend it to anyone interested in the following subjects;
1) True Crime
2) Miscarriages Of Justice
3) Wrongful Imprisonment
4) Freedom of Speech
5) Societal Outcasts
6) Artistic Expression
I feel a bit like a schmuck for not having heard, up to this point, about The West Memphis Three. In 1993, three young boys were found in a wooded area in Arkansas brutally murdered with no viable leads in the case. Three teenagers, one of which gave a coerced confession and was working with an IQ in the 70s, ended up pointing the investigation towards himself and two other young men.
Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin were both fans of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and acquaintances of Jessie Misskelly (the young man who was questioned for 12 hours with no legal representation).
Although I was not really a fan of that music, I remember the bands quite well. As a child growing up in the 80s, I remember the negativity directed towards that music and those who listened to it. The general feeling back then was that opening your mind to that type of subject matter would result in traveling down a dark path from which there was a difficult return.
As the young men ended up being referred to as The West Memphis Three, their court case and subsequent incarceration become the subject of an HBO documentary entitled Paradise Lost (and two sequels).
I mentioned in my thoughts on Destiny Of The Republic that I am always interested in learning something new. While visiting family back in Florida, my son and I kept looking for an opportunity to hit up a bookstore (seeing as True Grit was my planned “vacation read” and I was finished in roughly 24 hours, I was in desperate need of something for the return trip). Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it to Chamblin Bookmine, but we found ourselves near a Books A Million. As my kid headed in his favorite direction (James Patterson has started writing kids books!), I made a beeline for the budget section, hoping to stumble across a hidden literary gem. The fact that it’s been on my TBR list for some time AND it was marked down from its original double digit price to only $4.97, meant there was no way I could pass it up.
As a guy who is chronically skeptical, I’m always curious as to which agenda is being pushed on any polarizing issue. This case is not without its supporters and opponents. The author (and filmmakers from HBO) would lead you to believe that a religious witch hunt took place. If this is true, it’s absolutely horrifying that a difference of opinion and taste in entertainment could result in nearly two decades of imprisonment. I would not mind reading another point of view on this crime, so if you’re out there and have a recommendation feel free to let me know.
I enjoyed this book and read it with my jaw open both due to the horrendous crimes against these young boys and what appeared to be a massive travesty within the Arkansas judicial system.
It is written well, and fits quite well into the “page turner” category so often alluded to in reviews as a buzz word (or two, technically). The passages describing the crime scene and the state these poor boys were left in are not for the squeamish, however. It was during those several places that I had to set it down for a few minutes and come back later. I’ve always had a bit of a morbidly curious nature (love me some zombies!), but even I have a limit.
To think that people are out there capable of doing this sort of thing is terrifying and stomach churning. To think that, in a free country such as ours, there still exists the possibility of witch hunts? That’s pretty scary too.