Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple

Deborah Layton,

Doubleday, 1998

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

In this haunting and riveting firsthand account, a survivor of Jim Jones's Peoples Temple opens up the shadowy world of cults and shows how anyone can fall under their spell. 

A high-level member of Jim Jones's Peoples Temple for seven years, Deborah Layton escaped his infamous commune in the Guyanese jungle, leaving behind her mother, her older brother, and many friends. She returned to the United States with warnings of impending disaster, but her pleas for help fell on skeptical ears, and shortly thereafter, in November 1978, the Jonestown massacre shocked the world. Seductive Poison is both an unflinching historical document and a suspenseful story of intrigue, power, and murder.

“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.” 
Chicago Tribune

“A fascinating account of a debacle that continues to resonate.” 
Entertainment Weekly

The Boston Globe

“An emotionally articulate and gripping account.” 
The Nation

“Why do apparently normal people surrender in body and soul to a charismatic egomaniac? Deborah Layton knows. This haunting book, written with candor and passion reads like a thriller. I could not put it down.”
 —Isabel Allende

“An absolutely riveting story, told as memoir but with the pulse-pounding suspense of a murder mystery. I read Layton’s account non-stop through the night, unable to let go, struck by the realization that this is not simply an account of a bygone tragedy. It has great relevance to many of the terrible events we see unfolding today, for this is a story about those who seek a better world and are then inextricably caught in a plan to end it. This is a universal tale about ideology gone awry.” 
Amy Tan