African American Literature,  America,  Book Reviews,  History,  NON FICTION,  Sixties,  Suspense

Hellhound on his Trail by Hampton Sides *** (of 4)

Hampton Sides gimmick as a writer is to start two or three parallel stories and watch as they converge in a single moment in history.  I strongly recommend Ghost Soldiers by the same author, the story of the Bataan death march in the Philippines.  In this case we travel with Martin Luther King Jr. during his last fateful months before his assassination.  Simultaneously we track the movements of his killer, James Earl Ray, as he prepares for the shooting.  All the while we get inside the head of J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, and lifelong enemy of King.  On the upside the author does an excellent job of recreating a time and place in American history: the devastating racism of the deep south in the 1960s and the virulent paranoia of Hoover’s cold war FBI.  Somehow, however, I did not feel the suspense.  Maybe I recall too much of the events from my childhood and the book would be more successful for younger readers and maybe it just wasn’t that suspenseful.  Everyone knows the outcome long before the first page.