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The New York TimesMs. Strand's slim book is part true-crime entertainment, part academic exegesis, part political folk ballad. I don't wish to overpraise it: it has soft spots; it frequently deals with material covered in better books; you will not confuse the author's modest prose with Nabokov's. Yet her cross-threaded tales of drifters, stranded motorists and madmen got its hooks into me. Reading Ms. Strand's thoughtful book is like driving a Nash Rambler after midnight on a highway to hell.