Kill Me Tender and

VIVA LAS VENGEANCE: A Murder Mystery Featuring Elvis Presley

Daniel Klein, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-28806-8

The world's only hip-swiveling detective takes on crime in Sin City in Klein's third rollicking Elvis mystery (after Kill Me Tender and Blue Suede Clues), which includes dueling casinos, battling brothels and rival marriage chapels. For novelty, a swarm of killer bees also makes a deadly appearance. Throw into the mix the Strip's most notorious insult comedian, Howie Pickles (rhymes with "Rickles"), an Aquarian Age religious cult and gonzo journalist Digby Ferguson (think Fear and Loathing, complete with firearms and Drugs-'R'-Us), and Viva has something for everybody. Readers unversed in the spiritual urges that assailed Presley in the mid-'60s, however, may find off-putting the King's attraction to a Hare-Krishna commune in the desert hills; his attraction to the commune's voluptuous leader, on the other hand, should come as little surprise. Nonetheless, those yearnings, central to the plot, are accurately portrayed, though Klein does slip on a few minor biographical details (e.g., Presley's vagueness about Vietnam and unfamiliarity with Bob Dylan). One of the staples of the series is The Big Concert Scene, and Klein does not disappoint. Indeed, the "Don't Be Cruel Peace Concert" may be the author's best such production yet. Not only is the Elvis-as-P.I. conceit now well established, but the sure-handedness that marks both the character's evolution and the story's multiple plots should draw new fans to the series. (Mar. 10)

Reviewed on: 02/17/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
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