Books: Pardoner's Tale

MARIE: A TRUE STORY by Peter Maas Random House; 420 pages; $16.95

After excursions into fiction (Made in America) and exotic subculture (King of the Gypsies), Author Peter Maas has returned to his most substantial theme: intractable loner vs. corrupt organization. In Serpico (1973), a singleminded narcotics agent challenged the authorities and won. The heroine of Maas' new nonfiction drama triumphs over a stained bureaucracy, headed by the Tennessee Governor's office, that sells pardons to murderers and rapists.

Marie Ragghianti did not set out to shake up statehouses. She was a Florida...

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