Monthly Archives: September 2012
This book gave me an evening of pure entertainment. It’s full of formatting glitches, a typo or two and some grammar miscues, but most of time I was so busy laughing I breezed right on by. Elvis isn’t really dead; he’s in a witness protection program. When he bounds onstage to perform at an Elvis Impersonators show my computer rocks.
Funny though it is, SUSPICIOUS MINDS is a crime novel and Paul Bishop has the bona fides for it. He spent 35 years with the Los Angeles PD, twice winning Detective of the Year awards. Currently he is a Detective III. A prolific writer, he’s the author of three crime fiction series, plus stand-alones. His blog features a collection of vintage Crime Detective book covers.
SUSPICIOUS MINDS was a “trunk book,” a good book that publishers don’t want to take a chance on, so the author puts the manuscript in a trunk for another day. In his Forward, Bishop wrote:
“Some books are just plain fun to write, and so it was with Suspicious Minds — a crazy Elvis conspiracy novel with a character — Cole Ramsey — who stepped onto the page fully formed. … Sometimes, parts of a trunk novel are cannibalized by the writer and dropped into other novels. In a different form, the finale of Suspicious Minds morphed into the finale (without the Elvises) of my novel Chalk Whispers. With the advent of e-books and e-publishing, I wanted to bring Suspicious Minds out of the trunk and into the light of day.”
SUSPICIOUS MINDS, the story —
March 1977, New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 2: Gordy Fontaine and Lew Sutton, DEA partners, show up for the burial of drug dealer Zachary Arceneaux. Trouble is, there’s someone else in the coffin, while Arceneaux, guarded by two FBI agents, sits in a limousine watching his own funeral.
As the coffin is lowered, Gordy jumps on top of it and unscrews the lid, revealing the wrong corpse. The traditional jazz band strikes up like all heck breaking loose and in the melee an FBI agent is shot in the leg. It’s a wild shot from the limo but Gordy gets the blame and goes on the lam.
June 1977, an arena in Indianapolis: Gordy buys a ticket to an Elvis concert. They’ve been friends ever since Elvis showed up at a DEA office wanting to help in the war on drugs. Gordy meets Elvis in his limo after the concert. The wheels begin to turn.
August 1977, Graceland, Memphis: Outside the Graceland gates, a man runs through a crowd of weeping mourners yelling that Elvis is not dead; it’s a hoax. Nobody pays him any attention. Of course Elvis is dead. It was on radio and TV.
April 1996, West Hollywood, California: Cole Ramsey, a popular Elvis impersonator, gets a call from his sister, Joella, a deputy at West Hollywood Station. She wants him to find a safe place for a straggler who claims to be Elvis Presley. He looks like death warmed over and is asking for a DEA detective named Gordon Fontaine. He has no ID and there’s no DEA agent named Gordon Fontaine, but there is something about the straggler … if Cole would just check him out …
Cole is a talented and affable young man with many friends. He calls in some favors that lead him to a sanitarium. So far, so good, but it’s a set-up, and the chase is on. Gordy Fontaine has that evil old thug Zachary Arceneaux in his sights. And Elvis … well, that would be telling. The ending is a pip.
This is one of the funniest books I ever read. I know … I know… I’m easily entertained, but I can’t help laughing when I read lines like this:
**”Cole didn’t just march to a different drummer he boogied with a whole different orchestra.”
**”It was a good scam, but it was being wasted on a guy who if you blew in his ear would thank you for the refill.”
The story’s the thing in this book. It grabbed me from the beginning and never let go.
by Carole Nelson Douglas
In a week when Hurricane Isaac swamped the GulfCoast, the UN said it did not plan to invade Texas, and Rosie O’Donnell announced that she is married, had a heart attack and is selling art on eBay, CAT IN A JEWELED JUMPSUIT was a blessèd relief.
So, is Elvis alive? Maybe, maybe not.
CAT IN A JEWELED JUMPSUIT’S Prologue is from Elvis’s POV, with Elvis – or his ghost – watching TV and reflecting on his life as it was according to the tell-all books written about him. Quoting: “Only one who hasn’t been heard from on the grand glory days and sad last nights of Elvis Aaron Presley is the King his own self. And even that isn’t impossible. Heck, all the King’s men had mostly used ghost writers to get their side of things down on paper. And here he was one. The King laughed …”
Chapter One, from Midnight Louie’s POV, is exquisite, with ML watching himself in a TV commercial as he descends a grand staircase with all the aplomb of Fred Astaire. Keeping in mind that this book was written in 1999, you shouldn’t be surprised that ML is watching a VCR tape while his owner, Miss Temple Barr, fusses with the recorder, winding and rewinding the tape in her efforts to keep the commercial running.
Temple is a public relations freelancer, on retainer from the Crystal Phoenix Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Her boss is Van von Rhine, wife of Aldo Fontana, one of nine Fontana Brothers. Brother Nicky Fontana owns the Crystal Phoenix. The nine Fontanas keep a low profile most of the time, but never fear, they are around.
With a new “Elvis” hotel—the Kingdome—going up on the Strip, Van von Rhine instructs Temple to snoop around and report on its progress. An upcoming publicity stunt is an Elvis Impersonator competition. Elvises of every size, shape and theme converge on Vegas.
When Quincey, a teenaged girl who is to portray Priscilla, gets death threats, her mother comes to Temple for help. Temple hires six of the Fontana Brothers to serve as bodyguards disguised as Elvis impersonators.
Further muddying the waters, an Elvis sound-alike begins to call the Mr. Midnight radio show. Matt Devine, the show’s host, doesn’t take him seriously but listeners do. Groupies wait in the studio parking lot so they can get Matt’s autograph simply because he talks to The King. Matt tries to discourage them by asking why Elvis would wait so many years to show up again. One of the true believers says, “He knew how to make an entrance.”
Matt recognized pure faith when he saw it. He had never seen it shown to anything other than a religious figure. Maybe the shrinks who identified Elvis as a shaman, a primitive holy man, weren’t all wet. Didn’t the faithful visit the burial shrine at Graceland every August, and every day of the year, making it second only to the White House in annual visitor count?
The FBI shows up wanting copies of the radio tapes. When the wedding dress designed for Quincey’s appearance as Priscilla is slashed to bits, her mother takes her out of the show. The FBI persuades Temple to replace her.
Meantime, Midnight Louie slinks through the story, always under the radar but ever alert in his zeal to protect Temple. His unlikely accomplices are an 18-foot anaconda and a chimpanzee with his own jumpsuit. Unlikely they may be, but they’re effective. With Temple as bait and a killer disguised as an Elvis impersonator, the show goes on. The results are totally unexpected. The ending is a gas. So, is Elvis alive? I’ll never tell.
August was for Elvis Week and a blue moon. Give a listen to YouTube’s 1956 recording of Elvis performing “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold.” It’s early Elvis, when the voice was pure and the beat was easy. It’s at http://tinyurl.com/8mwwro8.