THREE WEEKS IN OCTOBER: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper, by Charles A. Moose and Charles Fleming is the memoir of an embattled former law enforcement official rather than a gripping account of the heinous shootings that captivated an entire nation last fall.
While the book does a decent job at chronicling the 14 random shootings and the eventual capture of suspects Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, the book is too much about Moose and not enough about the story itself.
However Moose wastes little time in taking potshots at the press for escalating the incidents and leaking crucial information concerning the investigation. Yet Moose's account of the press is extremely questionable at times. Unfortunately, it is as if he doesn't recognize the importance of a free press in a democratic society. Like Moose, journalists had a job to do --- and a tough one at that --- during the entire ordeal. Moose never gives any credence to the press.
Instead of writing a book about the impact and aftermath of the serial sniper incident, Moose talks about becoming a police officer. Who cares? Many times while reading the book, I was perplexed at the title of the book. It should have a different name, because it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface in revealing the depths of this horrific crime spree.
Another problem with THREE WEEKS IN OCTOBER is that there are no photographs. They would have given a lot more depth to the book.
Moose also wastes time writing about the racial overtones of black-on-black crime. At first glance, THREE WEEKS IN OCTOBER appears to be an insider's point of view of the Washington D.C.-based sniper case, but it's really a mixture of psychobabble from a former African-American law enforcement official who doesn't have enough sense to realize that crime knows no color and has no barriers --- and occurs in good neighborhoods as well as bad.
Sure, the fact that Moose writes about growing up in a segregated North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s is interesting, but what does his specific background have to do with the sniper case? Moose was a compassionate police chief and was deeply affected by this incident. But that doesn't mean he needed to pen a book of this magnitude before the judicial process is finished. Time is needed to take a look back at this case.
Hopefully in time, and after the suspects have their day in court, someone other than Moose and Fleming will put into words the importance and overall ramifications of this terrible event that killed 10 people and left a nation shaken.
Reviewed by David Exum, who works for bostonherald.com as an online news editor/reporter. on September 15, 2003