NINTH LIFE by

NINTH LIFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Two members of the staff of magazine, who entered the Caryl Chessman case in virtually its last stages, now believe they have turned up enough evidence to prove that Chessman died unjustly. They claim that ""the most litigated criminal action in the history of U.S. Jurisprudence"" was a macabre travesty of due process of law, and in their closing statements set forth specific items of fact which (they say) it would be highly informative for legal authorities to pursue in search of the underlying truth of Chessman's various claims. Because Chessman's case was an international cause celebre, the twin but separate issues of his guilt or innocence and the merits or disadvantages of capital punishment were both beclouded for many years. The authors' allegations of suppression of evidence, political maneuverings, neglect of systematic forensic detection methods, and supposedly improper judicial exercise, no doubt have some substantive basis. In the matter of sheer cost, to say nothing of the suggestion of cruel and unusual punishment, the authors have a powerful argument. They also level the hideous charge that ""one of the reporters"" (assigned to Chessman's hearings) ""told a friend in confidence that his editors wouldn't allow him to include any of Chessman's strong points in his story."" This episodic rendition of Chessman's long journey from freedom to death in California's gas chamber is highly charged with emotion, and may again inflame the wide-spread partisanship apparent at the time of his execution. Clearly, the authors are more interested in the abolishment of capital punishment than in the possibility of exonerating Chessman; nonetheless Ninth Life makes it difficult to believe in his guilt as charged.

Publisher: Putnam