Update: Tuesday, October 26, 1999

The true and complete story

By Linda Ives

In August 1987, the body of my 17-year-old son, Kevin, who had been murdered, was left on a railroad track near our home to be dismembered by an oncoming train. His best friend, also murdered, was placed on the track beside him. The mutilation was a savage attempt to destroy evidence of the murders. Other futile attempts to thwart an investigation quickly followed--first in our county, then in our state, and finally during federal investigations. Even now, twelve years later, the FBI refuses to open its files on this case.

Many news outlets over the years, including Dateline, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times Magazine, have run stories on the murders. But until now, there has been no comprehensive, definitive book. The Boys on the Tracks, by Mara Leveritt will be released by St. Martin's Press on November 1. It is the true and complete story of how my son died and how law enforcement at every level did its best to sabotage justice.

Note: ACTION ALERT: Erroneous Date

Mara is one of Arkansas's most highly respected journalists, a reporter who has devoted her career to investigating criminal justice issues. When she told me she wanted to write this book I gave her my unreserved cooperation, opened my files to her, and welcomed her interviews. Having followed her work for quite some time, I knew that her reporting would be accurate and her writing would be vigorous. I have read the book. I am well pleased.

If you have followed the story of my son's murder, read The Boys on the Tracks. It will fill in every detail you might have missed. If you know nothing about this case, read The Boys on the Tracks. It is a complete telling of the tale. And if you've doubted, even for a second, the rationale behind our country's "war on drugs," read The Boys on the Tracks. And see how the war has been on us.

The Boys on the Tracks

From Kirkus Reviews
Award-winning investigative reporter Leveritts debut is a wrecking-ball tale of tragedy, malfeasance, and machine politics that resembles an all-true Arkansas Confidential. In 1987, Linda Ives suffered a parental worst-nightmare when her son and a friend were run over by a train, whose crew observed them supine and covered with a tarp before impact. Local law enforcement attributed the deaths to a massive overdose of marijuana and dismissed the crews tale as optical illusion, in the first of many suspicious official fumbles. Ives compelled a series of investigations that began promisingly yet were inexplicably stifled by such malign forces as the states notoriously incompetent medical examiner (protected by then-Governor Clinton) and an admired local prosecutor who championed her cause as camouflage for his own criminal activities. As years passed, and more unsolved killings occurred, Ives assembled evidence that the boys had stumbled upon a diffuse conspiracy involving CIA-backed air suppliers to the Contras, who ran an enormous cocaine-trafficking operation from a remote airport. Fanciful as this may sound, Leveritt documents how Ivess quest for transparency was consistently stymied, first by local agencies, then the state police, finally by the FBI. A portrait emerges of state governance as a deeply corrupted good-ol'-boy network, funded by drug money and protected by blackmail and violence. Leveritts prose is less than taut, and she too often indulges in repetitive emotional rhetoric regarding the Iveses loss. That said, her investigatory efforts seem impeccable; little within this page-turner reads as implausible conspiracy theory. Unlike many works that have dug for the dirt of the Clinton gubernatorial era, this is an authentically shocking, deeply unsettling portrait of contemporary American power backstopped by arrogance and callous greedand of the drug war as a weapon of social control from which insiders enjoy impunity. One hopes for sufficient outrage garnered to substitute for justice denied; also, for an inevitable movie adaptation that wont dilute the storys uglier civic dimensions.

Copyright 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.