Life After Death: The Story of Damien Echols

It’s a nightmarish scenario that reads like a crime novel.  Arkansas, 1993.  Damien Echols is an eighteen year old outcast – he’s from a troubled family and has a bad reputation in the small town of West Memphis.  Then the unbelievable happens:  he and two of his friends are falsely convicted of the brutal murders of 3 young boys.   In the midst of a surreal media circus, using the flimsiest of evidence, Echols is sentenced to death.  

Maybe you know this story – the true saga of the Memphis 3, dramatically told in a series of HBO documentaries, beginning with Paradise Lost: The Child Murders of Robin Hood Hills.  Echols and his friends would spend the next 18 years of their lives in prison, freed only after a tremendous worldwide effort to earn their release.   

Life After Death is Echols’ memoir and it is an extraordinary story.    One reviewer put it this way: “Exceptional…Echols is at heart a poet and mystic, and he has written not just a quickie one-off book to capitalize on a lurid news story, but rather a work of art.” (Kirkus Reviews)   Life After Death is many stories in one – a shocking memoir of life behind bars, a moving story of the struggle to make spiritual sense of injustice, a poignant and unlikely love story (while still imprisoned Echols met and married Lorri Davis – a supporter from New York City).  The book is also a powerful cry for justice that reminds us of the others – equally innocent – still behind bars.  A dramatic and haunting read.