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May 12, 1985|MARTY LIEBERMAN

OUTLAW: THE TRUE STORY OF CLAUDE DALLAS by Jeff Long (Morrow: $12.95). If you're in the market for an insightful, captivating and coherent work of investigative journalism, this is it. Long details the personalities and events surrounding the 1981 murder of two Idaho Fish and Game officers and the ensuing two-year, coast-to-coast manhunt for Ohio farm-boy-turned-buckaroo-outlaw, Claude Dallas. Long's narrative is spellbinding as he paints a layered portrait of life in today's American West, contrasting traditional values with contemporary realities. It's the stuff Hollywood would eat up. Dallas personifies the fading ideals and passions of the Old West, while his victims are the perfect symbols of the red-tape, by-the-book bureaucracy of 20th-Century law and order. As a result, Dallas' cold-blooded act and his defiance take on near-legendary proportions. Long's fact-filled storytelling is to be commended.

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