Mx3 Review: The Devil I Know by Jackie Barrett

October 10, 2012 Berkley Prime Crime, Murders, Monsters, & Mayhem, Review, True Crime 3

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (August 7, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0425250423
  • Source: Personal Copy

Fans of horror are familiar with devastating killings that took place at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, NY. 23-year-old Ronnie DeFeo was subsequently convicted and imprisoned for killing his entire family.  These killings were just the precursor to decades of unnatural occurrences that took place in this home. Later, another family, the Lutzes, moved into the home. They didn’t last long…the supernatural activity they experience caused them to flee less than a month after moving in. A book and subsequent movie, named The Amityville Horror were released, once again  shining the spotlight on this eerie home.

Countless numbers of press contacted DeFeo after the book was published, wanting to know about the supernatural events that took place in his home. They all wanted to hear about the hauntings; no one wanted to hear about what happened the night his entire family was brutally murdered. DeFeo withdrew from all the attention, growing more bitter and angry as his celebrity status increased. One day, he receives a letter from psychic Jackie Barrett. Barrett insists that she learned about him from an unknown force, but feels she has to talk with him about the evil that has been tormenting him all these years.

DeFeo and Barrett start communicating via letter and then by daily phone calls. Barrett is startled, but not necessarily surprised, when DeFeo is able to mention incidents in her past that aren’t publicly known. The two seem to be forced together an energy that neither one can control. Thousands of hours of recordings and hundreds of phone calls later, Barrett is finally able to extract the truth from one of the most evil individuals, reportedly the Devil himself.

Whether or not you believe the stories about the Amityville Horror, The Devil I Know is a truly well-researched exploration an study of a truly evil, and obviously imbalanced, man. That said, it portrays not only DeFeo’s story, but Barrett’s herself. Starting at a very early age, she was forced by her mother to take part in a number of exorcisms and seances, her gift to draw out spirits and talk to the dead a valuable one.  But one case involving someone dear to her didn’t turn out the way she’d expected, an event that continued to torment her life. Ultimately, this is a story of freeing one’s own personal ghosts, be it supernatural or spiritual.

There are a few scenes that are particularly spooky…but in my mind not nearly as terrifying as the account of the horrid crime that took place in this home. It could be that it takes a bit more to scare me than the average person?  Ultimately, it’s not the supernatural aspects of this case that are terrifying but instead the documented events that transpired the night of the DeFeo family killing.

Fans of horror and of true crime are certain to enjoy this book. Do a fiction/non-fiction mash-up, read it alongside Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror. Or even better, watch the film & then read this book. Any way you go about it, this is a book you must add to your Halloween reading list. Highly recommended.


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