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Moose Book on Sniper Probe Released

Charles Moose (searchlooks deeply pained on the cover of his book about his life and sudden vault into fame as head of the Washington-area sniper investigation. His brow is screwed tightly, his eyes cast downward in the close-up photo.

Much of what follows in the 319-page story "Three Weeks in October" (search) may explain why: Anger over a life tinged by racism. The pressure of leading the massive manhunt. Sorrow over the loss of life. And a simmering bitterness over the criticism that followed when he signed a book deal to tell his story.

"It's the story of how I went from being lionized for helping bring the snipers to justice to being vilified for writing a book about it," the former Montgomery County police chief writes in his introduction.

Moose's book goes on sale Monday, nearly a year after the sniper shootings (searchstarted in the Washington area. It's his insider account of the manhunt, combined with the story of his North Carolina childhood and his rise through the police ranks.

He reveals little about the three-week sniper investigation that isn't already public knowledge. Much of his story simply describes the players involved and chronicles his thoughts as the shootings unfolded.

When six people were shot in 24 hours starting Oct. 2, Moose and his commanders were dumbfounded. There was no connection between the victims and no big clues. Moose said he thought the shooter was someone having "one hell of a bad day" who would be caught or killed quickly.

But as time passed and more people were shot, Moose had to admit that he couldn't give the public what it needed most from the police -- safety.

"People want the police to tell them what to do, that it is going to be OK," he said in an interview Saturday. "We couldn't do that. You felt like you were letting everybody down."

He worried for his job as the shootings grew and struggled with relinquishing some control to federal law enforcement. When the shootings were over, he had a hard time feeling happy and apologized to the victims' families for not solving the crimes earlier.

He frequently criticizes the press, especially reporters and news organizations that reported on leaks from investigators. He says the release of a tarot card left at a shooting scene may have prolonged the spree by cutting off fragile communications with the sniper.

The release caps nine months of controversy about whether Moose could even write the book. Montgomery's ethics panel ruled he couldn't profit from his job as police chief. He filed lawsuits to overturn the decision, but ended up quitting in June, concluding he couldn't keep his job and write the book.

He has no regrets about leaving and partially blames the media for his problems. He said coverage of the case helped make the situation in Montgomery County "untenable" for him to stay on.

"I could have turned my back on that option," he said of writing the book. "But at the same time, it just seemed like the right thing to do."

Although prosecutors and defense attorneys for sniper suspects Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad have expressed concern about Moose's book being released before their trials this fall, Moose believes his story won't sway potential jurors.

He writes he has mixed feelings about Malvo and Muhammad facing the death penalty. Both are black, a racial group that faces death sentences in disproportionate numbers, Moose writes.

"I don't think there was a lot of cheering in the black community that these guys were going to go on trial in a death penalty state," he said.