cover image Disgraceland: Musicians Getting Away with Murder and Behaving Very Badly

Disgraceland: Musicians Getting Away with Murder and Behaving Very Badly

Jake Brennan. Grand Central, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5387-3214-4

The title of Brennan’s entertaining debut refers to the name the locals came to call the Nesbit, Miss., home of singer-songwriter Jerry Lee Lewis, who led a well-publicized dissolute life, in contrast to that of their hero, Elvis Presley, the proprietor of Graceland. (It’s also the name of the author’s rock ’n’ roll true crime podcast.) Lewis is notorious for having married his 13-year-old cousin, but the Killer, as he was known, may have been a real killer. Brennan presents a convincing case that Lewis, who was married seven times, murdered his fifth wife, to whom he was married only 77 days; local law enforcement was in his pocket, and the authorities ruled the highly suspicious death accidental (the victim’s bruised, dirt-covered body was resting atop a perfectly made bed; Lewis had defensive-looking scratches on his hand). Lewis’s is one of 11 stories that blend true facts with vivid imaginings of the musicians’ thoughts and mental states. Other misbehaving celebrities include Sam Cooke, Phil Spector, Sid Vicious, and Elvis, who merits two chapters (“Fat Elvis” and “Skinny Elvis”). The lesser known story of Mayhem, a Norwegian black metal band, makes for particularly creepy reading. This gossipy account is sure to fascinate music fans and true crime lovers. Agent: Byrd Leavell, United Talent. (Oct.)