Books: Murder One

THE MUGGING by MORTON HUNT 488 pages. Atheneum. $10.

Breathing hard, a shabby old man climbed two flights to his flat in a Bronx slum. As he turned the key, he heard behind him a sudden pummel of racing feet. When he began to shout, somebody struck him powerfully five times in the left side with a knife, and as he fell to the floor of his kitchen, a flesh-colored hearing aid popped out of his ear and landed close to his face.

The end of Alexander Helmer is the beginning of this remarkable study of crime and punishment in the U.S., 1964-72....

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