I Was a Killer for the Hells Angels: The Story of Serge Quesnel

Description

263 pages
Contains Photos
$10.99
ISBN 0-7710-5492-0
DDC 364.1'092

Year

2003

Contributor

Translated by Jean-Paul Murray
Reviewed by Geoff Hamilton

Geoff Hamilton, a former columnist for the Queen’s Journal, is a
Toronto-based freelance editor and writer.

Review

This is the true story of Serge Quesnel, a former assassin for the
Trois-Riviиres chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. Quesnel
worked for the gang in the early 1990s, committing five murders, among
other crimes, during an extremely bloody “war” with the rival Rock
Machine. He was eventually betrayed by a friend and forced to work out a
plea deal with the police. Sentenced to 12 years in prison, he will be
released under an assumed identity in 2007.

While not quite a “crime classic,” as the publishers insist, this
is a disturbing, detailed account of a contemporary criminal’s
misdeeds. Quesnel’s descent into the underworld is convincingly
related, and we gain some insight into that world as well as into the
weaknesses of the man who wanted so badly to join it. Some of Jean-Paul
Murray’s translation is a little stiff, but the writing is generally
limpid and engaging. The contrast between Quesnel’s brief foreword, in
which he apologizes and begs forgiveness for his crimes, and the brutal
narrative in which he candidly describes them is genuinely startling.
Some of Quesnel’s confessions are, however, so repellent as to be
difficult to read: “My mother had given me a BB gun. One day, when
I’d done PCP, for kicks I took shots at two mentally handicapped
people who lived nearby. I opened my bedroom window and fired a few BBs
at them. I couldn’t tell if I was hitting them because the two men
were continually scratching themselves.” While author Pierre
Martineau, a Quebec journalist, claims that the book does not make any
attempt to polish the convict’s image, one often gets the sense that
the subject’s obviously deep-rooted psychopathy is being, if not
soft-pedalled, then at least shabbily decorated with a rather
implausible belief in anyone’s redemptive potential. As Martineau and
Murray write of their subject, Quesnel now spends his time “studying,
and finds freedom in books about algebra, in solving complicated
problems. This is where he gets fulfillment. This is what allows him to
keep hoping that he’ll redeem himself, that he’ll forever leave the
world of crime and become an asset to society, as the lawyers say.”

Citation

Martineau, Pierre., “I Was a Killer for the Hells Angels: The Story of Serge Quesnel,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17407.