Chasing King's Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Assassin Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-10-12 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

"What a pleasant surprise! I picked up this nonfiction YA novel because I’m going to hear the author speak in May. I had no idea how little I really knew about King’s assassination and assassin. The book was the perfect amount of detail - enough to get the full story but not drown in overwhelming facts. Perfect for a young adult (high school) and older. It briefly covers MLK Jr’s involvement in the civil rights movement, then moves on to the background of James Earl Ray, the facts of the assassination and the FBI hunt for Ray. One of the best parts of the book was the plethora of amazing photographs- they put you right there in history and helped you live in the moments being discussed. Highly recommend and hope my kids will read this when they are older." said.

"I received this ARC for free from the publisher. An excellent, fast-paced nonfiction read that would be a great option for reluctant readers and school assignments. There were plenty of photographs throughout connecting directly to the information being read next to it. I think people think they know about Martin Luther King JR., but until reading this I didn't realize how much I didn't know about him, such as when he was stabbed in the chest with a letter opener and a sneeze or cough would have killed him at 29 years old. Before reading this I had no idea what James Earl Ray's background was, his plastic surgery history, and only knew him as the man who killed King and later escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. It was all fascinating to me. My ARC had some missing images and information and not the finished product." said.

"As usual, Swanson creates a spy thriller from a true crime with spectacular back matter. The most frustrating thing about this is how open-ended it still feels. James Earl Ray died in prison and he never actually said WHY he did what he did--Swanson plays up the fact that although Ray had a rap sheet a mile long, he never participated in hate crimes or violent crimes until he shot Martin Luther King. The manhunt for him lasted longer than that for any other assassin; the assassins of JFK, Lincoln, and William McKinley lasted mere hours and John Wilkes Booth was caught in just twelve days, but Ray eluded the police for more than two months and made it as far as London before being apprehended. Then he pleaded guilty, so there wasn't a trial, which fed the conspiracy theories (many of which Ray started himself). Very interesting." said.

"I think I might be alone on this one, but I definitely didn't enjoy it. I felt like the author was talking down to the reader the entire time. I've read enough teen fiction to know when an author is being condescending, but maybe this is just a thing in YA nonfiction? At the very least this was written for young teens or tweens. I cannot imagine enjoying this as a 17-year old high school senior. Also, [SPOILER. But really is this a spoiler?] he spends 2/3 of the book on the chase and then basically winds up Ray's motivations with a shrug and a "Nobody knows why he did it and he never said." I don't actually feel like I learned anything from this book.

I'm guessing a teenager would be intimidated by the thickness of the book, but the last 113 pages are just notes, so no worries!

Maybe I'm just too old for this one. Or I've read enough adult nonfiction to know the difference between good and mediocre true crime writing.

Overall, not recommended.
" said.

" Every aspect of this book was fascinating and I appreciated the many photos and other visuals along with the very thorough bibliography and suggestions of places to visit. The civil rights museum at the Lorraine Motel is one of the best smaller museums I have been to. " said.

"The story: Read the true story of how James Earl Ray stalked and murdered Martin Luther King, Jr. Gives details about the life of the great civil rights leader, and about the career criminal who, for reasons unknown, decided to murder him.

June Cleaver's ratings: Language G; Violence PG-13; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse G; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content G; adult themes (racism, prejudice, murder, civil rights abuses) PG-13; overall rating PG-13.

Liz's comments: The rating is due more to the fact that most middle-school kids just aren't going to sit down and read this kind of book by choice. It will be a hit, though, with any reader who prefers real-life crime drama to fiction.
" said.

" One of the best books I’ve read this year. I’m so glad students will have the opportunity to read this book! " said.

" Well-crafted and researched nonfiction account of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr - perfect for middle schoolers. Swanson does an excellent job of incorporating primary sources into his text while keeping a strong narrative thread. Highly recommend. " said.

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