Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin

Reads like a murder mystery, but is a well-researched compilation of information about the days leading up to MLK’s assassination and the two month manhunt to find his killer.
James Earl Ray is introduced to us as “416-J”, his inmate number in Jefferson City, Missouri. He escapes from this maximum security prison by squeezing himself into a breadbox (he practiced making this tight ball in his cell night after night), then bursting out of the bakery truck once it had cleared prison grounds. 416J heads to Mexico and becomes Eric Starvo Galt, determined to pick up photography and earn money as a porn producer.
Galt makes his way to Los Angeles and volunteers at the George Wallace for President headquarters (Wallace gets enough signatures to be allowed on the California ballot for President that year). Next stop, Atlanta, where he boards at a flophouse and plots his coming attack on MLK in Memphis. Galt takes a room in Memphis with a view of the Lorraine Hotel, and scurries into the bathroom for a direct bead on MLK’s room. Once MLK is shot, Galt bolts, but has to jettison his gun in the doorway of a store so as not to draw attention to himself from the cops nearby. He heads to Atlanta, leaves his car abandoned in an apartment complex parking lot, then Greyhounds to Detroit, and then into Canada. He then researches likely names to take, deciding on Ramon George Sneyd. After a nervous two weeks, he obtains a passport and flies to London, briefly to Portugal, then back to London where he is finally detained by the Scotland Yard for possession of a gun when trying to fly to Brussels. Then extradited to the US, sentenced to 99 years, and the final chapter details his escape and subsequent capture from a Tennessee prison.
Interspersed with Ray’s story is the story of Martin Luther King, whose popularity in the Civil Rights movement is waning with an uptick in Black Power. Memphis is the site of an outbreak in violence when he tries to lead a peaceful march to support the garbage workers union. He decides to come back to Memphis and lead a successful march, but first must overcome a federal injunction not to march. This keeps him in the area for days, and his team is celebrating their victory in court at the motel when King is shot. He is just about to go to a soul food feast at a friends, and lingers on the balcony talking to people in the court below. All accounts make it seem that he knew it was coming. If not today, then soon. In the chaos after the shooting, Jesse Jackson lies to reporters and says that he cradled Martin’s head and that Martin’s last word were spoken to him. Jackson puts his palms in the blood pool and wipes them on his clean white shirt, then flies to Chicago with bloodied shirt. The leaderless group decides to continue with MLK’s plan for a Poor People’s encampment in Washington DC. While the thousands are camped in a shantytown on the Mall, they receive word of Ray’s arrest in London.