Books: Fatal Encounters

SERPENTINE by Thomas Thompson Doubleday; 563 pages; $12.95

Jack the Ripper, John Dillinger, Willie Sutton, the Boston Strangler, Charles Gurmukh Sobhraj. Charles who? Does this unknown belong on the list of world-class criminals? After this pounding story of larceny and murder from Hong Kong to Paris, the answer must be yes, and Sobhraj, now in an Indian prison, can serve his ludicrously lenient seven-year sentence with his considerable ego gratified. Serpentine, Thomas Thompson's corpse-by-corpse account of Sobhraj's career, took just a month from publication in October to make the bestseller list and a $1 million movie deal.

Thompson will net...

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