Wolf hunt

Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, the subject of Maryanne Vollers’s Lone Wolf (out 11/7), spent years evading the FBI during one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history. He is, by definition, an ultra-elusive character — but Vollers, author of Ghosts of Mississippi, is up for the task of pinning him down in this smartly reported book.

The fact that quite a few Americans still view this murderer as a hero — he was an anti-abortion terrorist responsible for a string of bombings beyond the Olympics, including one at an Alabama women’s clinic that killed a cop — makes the Rudolph case a uniquely American cultural drama.

Vollers’s narrative is packed with fascinating details about cutting-edge policing (e.g., forensic bomb investigations) and old-fashioned shoe leather (FBI agents sorting through hundreds of thousands of money-order receipts to find one signed by Rudolph).

But what makes this book so chilling is how the self-righteous criminal mastermind comes into clear focus as he begins an intimate correspondence with Vollers. We hear in his own “mild, polite” words exactly how and why he managed to outsmart the Feds for so long.

BUY Lone Wolf (HarperCollins; 368 pages)

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Wolf hunt