At Close Range

TITLE: A VIOLENT ACT

AUTHOR: ALEC WILKINSON

PUBLISHER: KNOPF; 226 PAGES; $22

THE BOTTOM LINE: Unflinching close-ups of sociopath, hunter and victims developed by a master of the true-crime drama.

On the afternoon of Sept. 22, 1986, Indianapolis, Indiana, probation officer Tom Gahl paid a call on his new client, "Crazy" Mike Jackson. The nickname was not frivolous; Jackson was a 200-lb., 40-year-old addict with a history of irrational behavior. As Gahl approached, Jackson abruptly opened fire with his shotgun. He listened to the wounded officer plead for his life, then pulled the trigger twice more at close range. Fifteen minutes...

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