Blue Suede Clues: A Murder Mystery Featuring Elvis Presley

Overview

After winning the hearts of critics and audiences (all over again) in Daniel Klein's Kill Me Tender, Elvis Aron Presley returns once more to try his hand at crime-solving in a fun, suspenseful sequel.

1963. Elvis Presley has just completed filming "Kissin' Cousins," a hillbilly romantic comedy of which he is instantly ashamed. His romance with Ann-Margret has just become public knowledge and Priscilla is on the warpath. It is a critical period for Elvis, a time in which he must ...

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Overview

After winning the hearts of critics and audiences (all over again) in Daniel Klein's Kill Me Tender, Elvis Aron Presley returns once more to try his hand at crime-solving in a fun, suspenseful sequel.

1963. Elvis Presley has just completed filming "Kissin' Cousins," a hillbilly romantic comedy of which he is instantly ashamed. His romance with Ann-Margret has just become public knowledge and Priscilla is on the warpath. It is a critical period for Elvis, a time in which he must sort out his own contradictory feelings and make life-changing choices.

Against this backdrop, one "Squirm" Litteljon, an old army friend, contacts Elvis. Littlejon is serving life in a California penitentiary for the murder of a young actress on the MGM lot and he insists he was framed. Elvis figures that taking the case is just what he needs to escape all those people making demands of him, both professionally and romantically.

So begins a fast-paced mystery train-ride that takes Elvis from the weird world of movie stuntmen to a ground-breaking genetics laboratory in Mexico. His sidekick on this adventure is Squirm's deadbeat, Freud-spouting lawyer who has personal insight into the psychological quirks of surviving twins -- like Elvis.

Before he's through, Elvis will have to disprove a murder charge of his own and stop a diabolical film producer from publishing career-wrecking photographs of Elvis and Ann-Margret making love. Blue Suede Clues is a who-dunnit that keeps readers guessing right up to an ending worthy of only one man: The King!

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Editorial Reviews

Elvis in Print
Klein manages to build an enthralling tale, very much in the line of a Christie murder mystery.
Elvis News
If only Elvis could have exploited his interests like Mr. Klein makes us believe . . . The author [Klein] succeeds once again.
St. Petersburg Times
Presley fans will be delighted...this accurate,well-constructed mystery maintains integrity and affection to the memory of the King.
Nigel Patterson
An involving,fast paced murder mystery full of intrique,laughs and suspects!
Publishers Weekly
What intrigues most about Klein's treatment of the rock-and-roll icon in this appealing follow-up to Kill Me Tender (2000) is the King's moral center. Belying his image as a jaded, drugged-out corrupter of traditional American values, Klein's Elvis is a man drawn to criminal investigation and the dark side of the human psyche by his abiding purity of heart. This Elvis understands that the pursuit of justice may require confronting perversity, brutality and the gross abuse of power especially in Hollywood. As the shoot for Presley's 1963 film Kissin' Cousins winds down, Elvis hears from a fellow G.I., now serving a life sentence for murder in a California pen. Drawn into the case, Elvis teams with the has-been lawyer, now full-time alcoholic, who defended the accused in the original trial. Not incidentally, this diversion enables Elvis to slip the clutches of the suffocating Colonel Parker his longtime, anything-for-a-buck manager and rid his mouth of the profound distaste he feels for another in an unending series of slapdash movies and their treacly soundtracks. While Hollywood's fetid underside has been done countless times, accompanying Elvis on his own journey into the abyss affords new pleasures along with the tried-and-true (e.g., ruthless moguls exploiting would-be starlets). Klein unobtrusively renders Elvis's early foray into painkillers, makes convincing Elvis's discovery of Freud and describes an impromptu concert in a way that reminds us what made Presley the astonishing artistic force that he was. (Mar. 16) Forecast: Faithful to the Elvis of Peter Guralnick's exhaustive two-volume biography, Klein should continue to build up his base among Presley fans. According to the supermarket tabloids, Presley himself called from a phone booth "somewhere in the Midwest" to say he was "tickled pink" with the author's portrayal. Klein's Elvis would seem a natural for a series of made-for-TV movies. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
An old army buddy, jailed in 1963 for the murder of a Hollywood starlet, appeals to Elvis for help. Despite personal problems of his own, including his romance with Ann-Margaret, allegations regarding the death of his French mistress, and the remarriage of his father, Elvis sleuths. An entertaining sequel to Kill Me Tender. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The King just can't get any respect in Hollywood. Colonel Parker's wearing him out with demeaning publicity stunts, and Ann-Margret's making trouble by announcing to the press that she and Mr. Presley are in love. What will his new bride Priscilla think? Trapped in fluffy vehicles like Kissin' Cousins, Elvis longs for a challenging role to display his acting chops. When he puts out a call for high-quality scripts, wackos come out of the woodwork with everything but. Even so, one appeal strikes his fancy. Stuntman Freddy Littlejon, a.k.a. Squirm, writes from prison to claim that he's been framed for the murder of starlet Holly McDougall. He encloses a picture of himself meeting Elvis, both in military uniforms. Elvis doesn't remember Squirm, but because he feels a special affinity for both stuntmen and servicemen, he turns sleuth for the second time (Kill Me Tender, 2000). The search takes him from a rodeo to the mean streets of Durango to the UCLA science lab, with stops at many Hollywood locations. Meantime, Squirm's suspiciously easy escape from prison makes the investigation a race against the clock. Multiple sets of twins, including both attorneys in Squirm's murder trial, run illogically through the story, triggering wistful flashbacks for Elvis, whose twin brother Jesse died at birth, and exasperation for everybody else. Klein's serviceable writing doesn't fulfill the promise of his idea. Surrounded by desperately unfunny cartoon suspects, his Elvis is a surprisingly generic sleuth, with few quirks and little appeal. Readers are likely to leave the building way ahead of him.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312262495
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/6/2002
  • Series: Elvis Presley Mysteries Series
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Klein is the author of the highly-acclaimed first Elvis murder mystery, "Kill Me Tender." His other mysteries and thrillers include, "Embryo" and "Beauty Sleep." He is the co-author of the humor books, "Where's Elvis?" and "Macho Meditations" and of an even dozen non-fiction books. A graduate of Harvard, he lives in Great Barrington, Masschusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

1
Setting the Story Straight
November 1963

Elvis took a flying leap over a hay bale, executed a lackluster hip twitch in mid-air, and landed ungracefully on his heels. Behind the camera, Gene Nelson, the director, was making monkey faces at him and mouthing the word, “Smile.” Elvis cranked up the corners of his mouth like he was hauling dead weights out of the sea.
“Cut!” Nelson shouted.
The playback stopped and the entire cast of Kissin’ Cousins stumbled to a halt. Nelson ambled over to Elvis with a pleading look in his pale gray eyes.
Please, Elvis, it’s the last day,” Nelson said soothingly. “Try and look like you’re having fun.”
“I ain’t that good an actor,” Elvis replied, deadpan.
Fact was, it had taken a supreme act of willpower for Elvis to drag himself onto the MGM lot that morning to finish filling in the dance sequences. He’d been able to overlook just how ridiculous this picture was while they were on location, up in the luminous San Bernadino Mountains, but back here, hearing himself sing those god-awful hillbilly songs in playback, there was no way he could ignore how moronic it was.
“Well, I’m having fun,” Wayne LeFevre said, sidling up beside Elvis with a goofy grin. “Just pretend you’re me, Elvis.”
LeFevre was Elvis’s double. Elvis played two roles in Cousins: Jodie Tatum, a dim-witted yokel straight out of L’il Abner, and Josh Morgan, Tatum’s straight-arrow, Army lieutenant, look-alike cousin. When both cousins appeared in a scene—like in this hoedown number—LeFevre stood in for one of them.
“Man, you’d have fun at a public hanging,” Elvis muttered to LeFevre.
“At least I’d try to make myself useful—like by comforting the widow in my own obliging way,” LeFevre replied, winking.
“One more time!” Nelson called out. “Hit your marks, folks!”
Elvis rambled back to the hay bale, hooked a thumb into the pocket of his Josh Morgan army khakis, and was preparing to leap on the downbeat when he spotted Colonel Parker galloping onto the set. The Colonel’s bovine face was a mean shade of red. A newspaper flapped in his stubby right hand.
“Time-out!” Parker hollered, and Nelson flashed five fingers for a five-minute break.
“Son, we are thigh deep in cow patties this time,” Parker said, thrusting the newspaper in front of Elvis’s face.
Elvis peered down at it. The headline read “Elvis Wins Love of Ann-Margret.” It was datelined London, where Miss Ann was attending the royal premiere of Bye Bye Birdie and where she had taken it upon herself to announce to the press that she and Elvis were in love, adding, “I cannot say when, or if, we will marry.”
“Fool woman,” Elvis mumbled, even as a genuine smiled tugged at the corners of his mouth.
“Damn shot worse than a fool,” Parker snapped. “That woman’s a home wrecker.”
God Almighty, the Colonel was right. Elvis hadn’t figured that when Miss Priscilla saw this—and some damned fool would surely show it to her—she’d throw a fit and a half. She’d just flown in from Memphis day before yesterday with a bad case of jealousy on the brain, and this could put her over the top. Make her threaten to go running home to Daddy in Germany again.
“Guess we need to do something about this,” Elvis murmured.
“I’m doing it already,” Parker snapped. “Called a press conference for six sharp. We’ll set the story straight.”

Elvis watched the Colonel greet the reporters at his MGM office door, where he was decked out in knickers, a buttoned-up Hawaiian shirt, a floppy bow tie and, to top it off, Elvis’s Kissin’ Cousins blond wig set at a jaunty angle on his moon-shaped head. It was one of the Colonel’s standard gambits: When you’ve got a crisis, bamboozle them with buffoonery. After the journalists had taken their seats, he grinned at them for a full minute, then removed the cigar from his mouth and barked, “Okay, gents, one question per. And be gentle, boys, Mr. Presley has been feeling kind of put upon lately.”
Elvis lowered his eyes. The way Parker put things, Elvis always ended up sounding like some touchy mamma’s boy.
The first question came from Dunlap of the Hollywood Reporter: “Exactly how would you describe your relationship with Ann-Margret?”
Elvis leaned back in the Colonel’s leather desk chair and scratched his jaw. He was still in costume and makeup, so his fingernails scraped off a thin line of tan foundation. “I would describe our relationship as a deep friendship,” Elvis began. “Sort of like brother and sister. Yes, Miss Ann is like my long-lost sister.”
Truth to tell, he had felt a deep connection to his Viva Las Vegas costar the moment he laid eyes on her. And that connection went way beyond Ann-Margret’s sexy good looks. He’d felt from the start that she was a soul mate, some kind of female mirror image of himself.
“So you are denying that there is anything romantic going on between the two of you?” the Variety reporter said.
Elvis sat up straight and looked directly in the reporter’s eyes. “Sir, denying and affirming are awful grand words to be using when you’re talking about romance. Seem more like church words, if you know what I mean.”
From the corner of his eye, Elvis saw the Colonel grinning and nodding with approval. No doubt he thought Elvis was doing a little bamboozle of his own, but actually Elvis was trying to get a point across, so he went on. “You see, there are all kinds of ways that a man and a woman connect with one another and most of them are a mystery. Least they are to me. So it’s hard to put into words exactly the way I feel about Miss Ann. It’s a deep and complicated feeling.”
The Colonel turned to Elvis and pumped his eyebrows up and down by way of reproach; this wasn’t going the way he’d scripted it.
Ferguson from Time magazine chimed in with: “With all due respect, Mr. Presley, you’ve been seen all over town motorcycling with Miss Margret, holding hands, going into your trailer with her and closing the door behind you …”
In spite of himself, Elvis felt the sweetness of those glorious times with Ann-Margret sweep over him. The feeling only lasted a split second, but that was long enough to show in his eyes; the reporters responded with knowing smiles and started scratching furiously in their notepads.
That did it; this was going from bad to worse. The Colonel popped in front of Elvis. “Thank you, gentlemen,” he said dismissively. “I know you’ll do right by Mr. Presley in your papers. Now we’ve got stills from our new movie over on the table there. You can pick them up on your way out.”
“One last question please, Elvis.” It was Mike Murphy, the famously wise-guy reporter from the L.A. Times. “And I promise you, it’s got nothing to do with your private life.”
The Colonel started to wave him off, but Elvis stood and said, “Okay, one last one.”
“Well, I was talking with Hal Wallis the other day,” Murphy began, “and he said that he just loves producing your pictures, because with all the money he makes from them, he gets to make first-rate films with actors like Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. Would you care to comment on that?”
It felt like a punch in the gut. Elvis reeled back into his chair. That one hurt bad, terrible bad. Far worse than anything anybody could say about his love life. No, this one got Elvis right where he lived. His great pal Hal Wallis had put it out there plain and simple: Elvis was just a money machine so Wallis could make real movies, movies that actually meant something, unlike this joke of a picture. And damnit, the Colonel had handpicked Kissin’ Cousins. He’d said the script had Elvis written all over it.
The Colonel shot eye daggers at Murphy. He yanked the blond wig off his head in what he must have thought was a gesture of fury, but it only made him look more buffoonish. Man, Elvis hated that wig. He’d hated it every time he had to put it on to play that pea-brained country bumpkin, Jodie Tatum. And at this moment, he hated it with all his heart because he saw it for it what it really was—a clown’s wig. And he was the clown.
Before the Colonel could say another word, Elvis rose again from his chair. If he had been shaky on his feet a moment before, he was steady as a rock now. He stood tall and calm and resolute in his army khakis with the lieutenant’s stripes, looking for all the world like a man in command. The entire room went dead quiet, a couple of the reporters freezing in mid-motion as they packed up their notebooks and pens.
“Let me put something straight here,” Elvis began in a low voice. “There is nothing I would like to do more than make a picture that has some real meaning to it. A picture that would give folks something to think about after they left the movie theater. Something to consider about their own lives. Maybe about their families or their country or anything else that’s meaningful to them.”
Elvis paused, looking the reporters in the eye one at a time. He felt better than he had all day and he surely knew why: He was finally speaking his own lines.
“I’m no great actor,” he went on. “No Richard Burton or Peter O’Toole. I wouldn’t kid myself about something like that. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do a real picture if I had the right script. And that’s the thing I want to say here. I want to find a story—a movie story—that I’d be proud to make. I don’t know what that would be, but I’m pretty sure I’d know it if I read it. So I’d appreciate it if you gentlemen would do me the favor of writing in your papers that I am on the lookout for a first-class script. I don’t care who writes it. Could be a fisherman or a truck driver for all I know. But I’m looking. And I need your help finding it. Thank you. Thank you very much.”
The reporters broke into spontaneous applause. In the doorway, Ned Florbid, the sleek MGM production manager who had wandered in during Elvis’s little speech, joined the applause, smiling broadly. And then Colonel Parker started clapping too, the blond wig swinging comically from one hand, but clapping for all he was worth. That was one of his standard gambits too: Always cheer, but cheer the loudest when you are losing.
BLUE SUEDE CLUES. Copyright © 2002 by Daniel Klein. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 21, 2011

    Best Elvis mystry I have read.

    I have been on a Elvis mystry binge and this story brings him to life more than any other. Humanises someone I never knew anything about. Fun read.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

    Enjoyed

    I love Elvis. This book was recommended and I read it in a day. I recommend if you like the Elvis P.I. stories.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    If you are an Elvis fan, this is a must read!

    Daniel Klein really captures the spirit of Elvis! Laugh-out-loud scenes made me feel like Elvis was, indeed, alive. Made me want to get the rest of series right away! Great job Mr. Klein.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2007

    Story stronger than Elvis?

    Any mystery featuring legendary stars from the past are a hit-or-miss risk for a reader. Usually, the character(s) and Hollywood gossip outshine the weaker storyline. Daniel Klein manages to do the opposite. A strong mystery is actually weakened by a holier-than-thou Elvis, who despite the rumors of a fling with Ann-Margaret, is 'sickened' by any talk of sex or nudity. Elvis seemed like a nice guy, but he is certainly not the Puritan that Klein has created. For a book featuring Elvis, there are surprisingly few other stars, with the majority of the characters in the story fictional. This is one story that would have been better served if Elvis had skipped an appearance, and gone to an all-night buffet instead!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2004

    Not cheesy as thought would be

    I thought this would be a cute cheesy book with Elvis in it, but I was wrong. It definitely had me turning the pages. The beginning started a little slow, I think because I expected it to be cheesy, but the mystery was well developed and Elvis was just another character. Glad I picked it up for a great deal!

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