Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin by Hampton Sides
My rating: ✰✰✰✰
Hardbound, Library Book, Finished: 7/13/2012
This book opens with the escape from Missouri State Penitentiary “Jeff City” at Jefferson City of Prisoner #416J on April 23, 1967. Through out the book we follow his travels to Mexico, where he is going by the name Eric Starvo Galt. We follow him as he travels north to California, then west to New Orleans, Atlanta and Memphis. He bought a gun using the name Harvey Lowmeyer and rented a room in Mrs. Brewer’s rooming house as John Willard. From the bathroom of the rooming house he shot Martin Luther King while Dr. King was standing on the balcony of his room in the Lorraine Hotel.
Narrowly escaping the police in Memphis Galt travels to Canada where he obtains a Canadian passport in the name of Ramon George Sneyd due to Canada’s policy of “Welcome to Canada, We Believe You”. By this time due to the mountain of physical evidence Galt had left behind and an enormous amount of manhours the FBI had discovered that his name was really, James Earl Ray. Ray was trying to get to Rhodesia, he was arrested by Scotland Yard detectives minutes before he was about to board a plane to Brussels, Belgium.
With interviews and consulting published works the author is able to recreate the movements of the principal members of this narrative. He details the massive efforts made by the FBI in their search for Dr. King’s assassin, as well as the help provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Scotland Yard. He chronicles what was happening in King’s live at the same time and also the effect his death had on his movement and the country, the riots, Resurrection City and the signing of the Civil Rights Bill.
Mr. Sides has a way of writing that carries you along, while not being ‘thrilling’ or ‘suspenseful’, I found this to be an absorbing read. The narrative never lags and while detailed is not repetitive or boring. I stayed up to 2 a.m. to finish it and highly recommend it.