When I asked Dean Street Press to send me books for Dean Street Press in December, I felt that a mystery starring Elvis Presley might be clever and amusing. This was despite my usual dislike for mysteries using an actual person or someone else’s character as the detective. So, I asked for the first book in the series. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to post my review until now, so I missed the event.
Elvis is feeling strange and unfocused since he returned from his army service. He keeps an eye on his correspondence and is distressed to learn that the president of one of his fan clubs, a young girl, died of a heart attack. Also, someone has sent him a record of an Elvis impersonator singing one of his songs, only with the lyrics horribly changed. Then, he learns that another fan club president has died unexpectedly—and both girls had a red spot on their tongues. After a third death, Elvis begins to suspect that someone is killing off his fans. Elvis feels he must get to the bottom of this.
His investigation leads him to meet colorful characters—an uncredentialed doctor serving the Black community and his beautiful nurse, a whole room of Elvis impersonators, an expert on criminology, and a hippy-like jail resident who seems to be psychic.
The humor of this novel seems to be based in strange encounters and outrageous behavior, and it didn’t really work for me. Far from the witty maybe sharp novel I expected, it comes off as a fanboy tribute.
What bothered me more, though, was that while Klein obviously researched Elvis, he didn’t spend the same amount of time checking the accuracy of his memory of 1965. For example, a 14-year-old Southern girl of the time would be very unlikely to even know the language that one character uses. Elvis’s affair with a black nurse is also unlikely. But there is at least one downright anacronism—the use of the term “serial killer” ten years before it was coined.
Characterization is mostly one-dimensional in this novel except for Elvis himself. The rest of the characters are just being put through their paces.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and fair review.