Untying the Knot: John Mark Byers & the West Memphis Three

Review by Rachel EC
Untying the knot is a well written, well researched conclusion to the West Memphis Three case by Greg Day. It is overly detailed in regards to the victims, their families and the three accused. It outlines confidently the unsubstantiated (although not completely out of scope) suspicion of John Mark Byers as well as providing details of the evidence against Terry Hobbs and possibly David Jacoby.
The West Memphis Three case is now 20 years old and still remains a detailed mystery. There is plenty of ongoing speculation surrounding this case and it will probably puzzle people for a long time to come. Untangling the knot really highlights the bittersweet victory of the West Memphis Three and their eventual Alford Plea which brought none of the families on either side any closure but did allow the West Memphis Three their eventual freedom after an epic and difficult 18 year legal battle.
Untying The Knot was definitely readable but at times a bit dry. I would not recommend this book to readers who aren’t well informed in the case of the West Memphis Three as it is quite detailed and doesn’t take the usual time to set up a story like a regular true crime book would. Having read hours of internet material on the West Memphis Three and seeing large amounts of the Paradise Lost documentaries I found it easy to follow the stories and the family situations (of which there are many). It’s not a book to begin your reading on West Memphis Three, but a great follow up from Devil’s Knot and the Paradise Lost documentaries.
Untying The Knot really highlighted the issue of justice for the accused overshadowing justice for the victims and their family, especially as the crime and the crime scene grew stale. Apart from the lingering accusations of Byers, Hobbs and perhaps Jacoby there is very little opportunity so long after the crime that anybody else would be investigated or prosecuted for these crimes for a second time.
For more information go to facebook.com/untyingtheknot
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1 comment
  1. Thanks for reviewing my book. You are correct in saying that Untying the Knot assumes a basic knowledge of the case, but is still readable to the uninitiated. There is only one objective report on the case of the West Memphis Three, and that is “Blood of Innocents” by Guy Reel, Bartholomew Sullivan and Marc Perrusaquia, all reporters for Arkansas Newspapers at the time of the murders. Published in 1995, and predating the first HBO film (Paradise Lost) by a year, BOI tells the story of the murders with little bias, though because of the publication date the book is also short on any of the more recent developments in the case; It was written prior to the evolution of the “Free the West Memphis Three”, support movement.

    I am working on a second book on the case which will not only go into the crime in greater detail, but will also outline the case AGAINST the West Memphis Three.

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