Seductive Poison

  • by Deborah Layton
  • Narrated by Kathe Mazur
  • 14 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Told by a former high-level member of the Peoples Temple and Jonestown survivor, Seductive Poison is the "truly unforgettable" (Kirkus Review) story of how one woman was seduced by one of the most notorious cults in recent memory and how she found her way back to sanity.
From Waco to Heaven's Gate, the late 20th century saw its share of cult tragedies. But none was quite so dramatic or compelling as the Jonestown massacre of 1978, in which the Reverend Jim Jones and 913 of his disciples perished. Deborah Layton had been a member of the Peoples Temple for seven years when she departed for Jonestown, Guyana, the promised land nestled deep in the South American jungle.
When she arrived, however, Layton saw that something was seriously wrong. Jones constantly spoke of a revolutionary mass suicide, and Layton knew only too well that he had enough control over the minds of the Jonestown residents to carry it out. But her pleas for help - and her sworn affidavit to the U.S. government - fell on skeptical ears.
In this very personal account, Layton opens up the shadowy world of cults and shows how anyone can fall under their spell. Seductive Poison is both an unflinching historical document and a riveting story of intrigue, power, and murder.


What the Critics Say

"A suspenseful tale of escape that reads like a satisfying thriller, Layton's account is the most important personal testimony to emerge from the Jonestown tragedy." (The Chicago Tribune)
"A fascinating account of a debacle that continues to resonate" (Entertainment Weekly)
"A chilling account... Truly unforgettable" (Kirkus Review, starred review)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Brilliant, Haunting, Chilling

Would you listen to Seductive Poison again? Why?

Definitely! For years I have been curious about Jonestown - more about the people who followed Jim Jones to their deaths than about the man himself. A couple of years back I read Julia Scheeres' "A Thousand Lives" (a brilliant book in its own right), a thorough journalistic look at Jones and his followers. Deborah Layton laid herself bare in "Seductive Poison," detailing how she herself got drawn in to Jones' orbit, her rise to power in Peoples' Temple, her disillusion, escape, and putting her life back together.

I must also say that Kathe Mazur's performance was superb! Her depiction of Jones - in either his caring or brutal persona - was chilling and believable. Deborah's fear, sorrow, and fumbling are portrayed realistically.

What other book might you compare Seductive Poison to and why?

it is a great companion piece to "A Thousand Lives". ATL is more journalistic and deals more with the suicides themselves; "Seductive Poison" is more personal, about one woman's own journey of self-discovery and deprogramming. But these together and you have a comprehensive look at Jonestown!

What does Kathe Mazur bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Her performance was superb here and turned a great memoir into a terrific audiobook

Any additional comments?

If you have any interest in Jonestown specifically, or indoctrination in general, or if you like to read about resilience against impossible odds, read this book!

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- Daryl

This Book Kept My Attention For 14Hrs Straight!!!

Has Seductive Poison turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. Not at all. I loved it completely. But it wasn't just the story. It was just a very good quality book.
Not even a world class seminar could hold my attention for fourteen whole hours!!! I mean, like...C'mon now?

What didn’t you like about Kathe Mazur’s performance?

Kathe Mazur's performance was sssssooooo incredible!!! I couldn't believe that she WASN'T the author of the book. She'd totally embraced every single nuance of the protagonist's experience. Great job Kathe!!!

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

This book is for anyone who thinks that it could (being swept up in a cult...even for just a few Sundays) NEVER happen to them. In this case, the author was entangled in this (Jim Jones) cult/culture for over five years. We're talking seven days a week; practically twenty+ hours a day!!! That's commitment. How sad that it was so full of deception and criminal activity.

One thing that this book has proven to me for sure is that: Jim Jones had pretty much duplicated himself through the naivete of his followers. He kept his own filthy hands out almost every dirty deed that was done (baring all his sexual assaults). It amazes me how much one man could've spent so much time under the proverbial radar, and leave the country with over nine-hundred members in tow; temporarily unscathed .

Any additional comments?

When I review all the things this woman went through...And all the things that she's put herself through, it causes me to pale in comparison when I think of just how LITTLE I actually contribute to my own organization. And it's not even a cult.

This book was definitely an eye opener for me: this book has "revolutionized" the very core of my ho-hum church life.

What a courageous woman!!!

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- Ralphy Novotney "Ralphy Novotney"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-14-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio