Prisoner #416-J in Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City is a slender, fair-skinned man in his late thirties with raven hair flecked with gray at his sideburns. He is a person hard to describe or remember – a model prisoner the guards overlook. He has spent most of his adult life behind bars. Today is the day #416-J will escape (in a bread box no less) and be on the run for many months just under the radar.
It is a happy time in Memphis. Tennessee. The third annual Cotton Carnival, Memphis’ answer to Marde Gras, is about to begin. The barge carrying the cotton king and queen is scheduled to arrive shortly after sunset. It is also a time of unrest. The sanitation workers are on strike. The garbage is piling up on the street of Memphis and the Major refused to negotiate. Martin Luther King Jr, is scheduled to lead a peaceful march in support of the workers.
Prisoner #416-J, or Eric Galt as he calls himself, is in Puerto Vallarta pertaining to be a photographer making a movie. The manager of the hotel where he is staying doesn’t know what to make of his mysterious new guest. Gault is meticulously dressed, is a fidgety gringo who mumbles when he talks and drives a two-door Mustang hardtop.
Former Governor George C.Wallace is running for President of the United States. He is making white supremacy the centerpiece of his campaign. Wallace’s hatred of the back man and King in particular is widely known. King is extremely troubled by Wallace’s popularity. King is crisscrossing the country promoting his upcoming Poor People’s Campaign. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has been obsessed with King for decades. He has carried in a semi public feud with King and the SC LC.
Wallace’s campaign in Los Angeles draws Galt. When did he return to the United States and under what alias? His hatred for blacks and King is growing to the boiling point. He leaves Los Angeles for Memphis and begins stalking King. Martin Luther King Jr, is shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee by an unknown assassin who escapes under the very noses of the Memphis police. At 7:05 pm at St, Joseph Hospital is pronounced dead. Who is the assassin?
Every able bodied man and women of the FBI and all police departments are looking for who. Clues point to a man named Eric Galt, but who is he? Galt, under an alias, is eventually caught by Scotland Yard trying to board a plane to Brussels. He is returned to the United States and put in solitary confinement in the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary – one of Tennessee’s tightest maximum security prisons. By a quirt of faith he escapes and for several days is on the run. He is captured, by accident, in the rugged mountains surrounding the prison and returned. He later died in 1998.
The question is – who is Eric Galt? Some believe he is James Earl Ray or is he. How did an uneducated small time criminal, using so many alias, allude the FBI for so long? A 65 day search that took investigators to Canada/Portugal/England in the most massive man hunt in history. Did he have help – where did he get his money? Was there a conspiracy?
Highly recommended. A very interesting read – a hard book to put down.
Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.