Review: The Kid Was a Killer

By Caryl Chessman.

For those not up on their histories of late-’50s cause celebre, Chessman was a death-row inmate who did a trio of books about his life and experiences.  Bit of an international outcry when he went to the chair (he perhaps didn’t need to.)

The three non-fiction books were renewed by his estate.  However this novel, first published in Paris, was not.  By no means a classic of ’50s noir, Kid Was a Killer is a tale of a boxing match, seen through the eyes of a newspaperman.

The Kid in question is one of those guys who, while not necessarily evil, doesn’t take nothing from nobody, fights for everything, and thinks little of god.

There’s a lot of plot, involving reformatories, Korea, psychology, waterfront mobs, the underside of boxing, etc.–much of it an ehh.  Even worse than the plot are Chessman’s “observations on the human condition” (written third-person by the reporter.)

But, if you’d like to get an insight into the mind of the author, who was clearly projecting much about his life, and what he held to be the justifications for it, into this novel, eh, the price is right.

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