However, in terms of style, the two pieces differ from each other in at least two ways. First, “In the Crosshairs”’s writing is plainer. The sentences are shorter, simpler. Schmidle’s style is quintessentially factual. A Schmidle sentence is sturdy, Shaker-like. Here are three typical samples from “In the Crosshairs”: “The point man, a twenty-eight-year-old named Marc Lee, began climbing the stairs”; “For all his bravado, Kyle had a compassionate side”; “They loaded up Kyle’s truck and went to pick up Routh.” Paumgarten’s style is richer. He writes a longer line; he uses figuration. Here, for example, is his description of Steck at a climbing gym:
Second Thoughts: I want to clarify what I said above. Schmidle is a plain-style writer, but his “In the Crosshairs” is anything but plain. It’s an intricate, elaborate canvas, with a wealth of memorable detail worked into it (e.g., the “red crusader’s cross” tattooed on Kyle’s arm, the crawfish - “some live, some cooked” - that Rury stuffed down Kyle's shorts, New Mexico's “tumbleweed expanses,” the “knobby” tires on Kyle’s F-350, the “grooves in the sand around Littlelfield’s fingers”). It connects the Iraq war with Chris Kyle with P.T.S.D. with Eddie Ray Routh with Texas gun culture with murder on a rifle range. It makes the killer’s life as much a tragedy as the victim's. It’s an astonishing piece of work. It would make one hell of a great movie.