Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides

Hampton Sides has written an engrossing thriller full of near misses, daring escapes and the kind of action-packed drama that leaves readers with bite-shredded nails. It just happens to be about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Sides chronicles James Earl Ray's methodical trailing of his target and gives an almost second-by-second account of King's stay in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and what happened when he walked out on that balcony on April 4, 1968. Once the horrifying murder is completed, Sides switches gears and focuses on what was at the time the largest FBI manhunt ever: 3,500 agents were dispatched to track down King's killer. More ambitiously, Sides concludes that the assassination could have been avoided — if, say, King had agreed to police protection, or Ray, an escaped convict, had been picked up earlier by authorities — which makes the great man's death all the more tragic.