Kill Me Tender

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The King is back! With his fan club presidents dying mysteriously, Elvis steps in to find the killer . . .

Back from his tour of duty in Germany-and desperately missing his Mamma-Elvis Aron Presley just isn't turned on by the music anymore. Not the way he used to be.

Between dealing with his Machiavellian manager, the hangers-on and childhood pals crowding his Graceland mansion, and his own propensity for ...

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The King is back! With his fan club presidents dying mysteriously, Elvis steps in to find the killer . . .

Back from his tour of duty in Germany-and desperately missing his Mamma-Elvis Aron Presley just isn't turned on by the music anymore. Not the way he used to be.

Between dealing with his Machiavellian manager, the hangers-on and childhood pals crowding his Graceland mansion, and his own propensity for gobbling down fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, the King tries desperately to get his heart back into Rock and Roll.

But how can the King sing when young girls-the presidents of his fan clubs-are dying all over Tennessee? Elvis suspects foul play. To prove it, and to find the killer, he'll need to navigate the resentment, squareness, and bigotry that hound-dog him at every turn. Only by allying himself with a self-taught doctor in a small black community, his alluring-and forbidden-nurse, and a mysterious early Elvis impersonator, can Presley hope to Take Care of Business in time to save the next victim . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Toby Bromberg
The youthful, optimistic Elvis makes for a totally endearing slauth in Kill Me Tender. Klein spins a beguiling mystery, sure to capture your imagination Elvis fans and non-fans alike are going love thisnew detective.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Unlike your usual celebrity sleuth, Elvis Presley makes a natural detective in this winning whodunit, set in Tennessee after the singer has returned to civilian life from the army. When Elvis Presley fan-club presidents, all teenage girls, start dying of unknown causes, Elvis becomes concerned enough to do more than just write condolence notes to the families. He personally investigates the deaths (not an easy task when you're famous), in due course determining that each victim was poisoned by a rare Chinese drug. Meanwhile, he begins to receive demo records with sinister parodies of his songs, such as "Kill Me Tender" for "Love Me Tender." In his statewide quest for the murderer, Elvis attends his high school reunion, wanders into a bar full of Elvis impersonators and finally gets arrested in a small redneck town--the perfect setting for a real jailhouse rock. At the climax, in a suspenseful race to stop the killer from striking again, he must even pass as an Elvis impersonator. For all the novel's amusing contrivances, nothing seems forced or ridiculous, so cleverly does Klein (Beauty Sleep, etc.) use actual Elvis lore to serve his plot. The background of the early-1960s segregated South is also deftly presented, and the method of poisoning is both ingenious and fiendishly fitting. Elvis's romance with a black nurse, Selma du Pres, may be too good to be true (or to last), but Selma takes a key part in the bittersweet ending. Above all, Elvis, here at his most gentle and charming, is irresistible. This mystery has a heart as big as its humble hero's. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Poor Elvis. First he was an unflattering postage stamp, now an unconvincing sleuth. With nothing much to do at Graceland except fend off the sycophants and down high-calorie breakfasts, the King decides to pay a condolence call when a young fan club member surprisingly succumbs to cardiac arrest. He's soon singing gospel on her church steps and being untrue to his intended, Miss Priscilla, with Miss Selma, a real fine black lady. Then two more fans die, a high-school gal pal now writing a tell-all book about Elvis follows, and all these deaths start to look suspicious. Could an Elvis impersonator be responsible—or a member of the King's inner circle? And who's taunting Elvis on those 45s delivered to Graceland? Elvis skips a recording session to investigate, consults a New York lesbian psychiatrist about possible motives (yeah, right), then learns about an instantaneously acting exotic poison from Miss Selma's boss, a medic treating po' black folk. He also runs afoul of a southern sheriff and manfully locks horns with many more cholesterol nightmares before he confronts the demented murderer in a scene as unlikely as his being named a spokesperson for the Vatican, or for Slim-Fast. More clichés than a hound dog has fleas. Klein, coauthor of Where's Elvis? (1998), hits every wrong note, from bad dialogue to unfunny farce. Skip the book; play the records.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312261870
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Sorrowful Sad

Elvis was sitting at the kitchen counter in the red silk pajamashe had bought in Munich, working his way through a three-eggomelette and humming with his mouth full. It was the kind ofsingsong hum he often woke up with in his brain, more feelingthan melody, the leftover sounds of a dream that had swum awayfrom him before he could remember it. From the noise he wasmaking through his omelette, he figured it must have been onehell of a melancholy dream—probably the result of reading thatwretched book about devildom into the wee hours of the morning.

    Cook slipped a plate of bacon and grits onto the counter andElvis smiled up at her appreciatively. Breakfast was Elvis'sfavorite meal of the day, even if he was breaking his fast this dayat one in the afternoon. The only decent hours of sleep he gotlately came after the sun was up. Doc Mack thought he was stilladjusting to the time change from Europe, but that didn't figure—he'dbeen back for months. No, it was something else that yankedhim awake every time he'd start to drop off, this sudden panickyfeeling that he was in free fall.

    Elvis started cutting up his omelette when he heard a ruckuscoming from the front hall. It sounded like Mel giving the businessto Artie again. Mel took his job as gatekeeper pretty damnedseriously, maybe too seriously sometimes.

    "What the hell's going on out there?" Elvis called. "Soundslike a couple of piglets fighting over the teat."

    Mel ambled up to the door to thekitchen but, respectfully,stopped just short of entering. Lately Mel had been letting his hairgrow long, beatniklike, transforming a fairly good-looking youngman into what looked for all the world like a crab-faced harridan.

    "Didn't know you were up, Elvis," Mel said.

    "What's Artie want?" Elvis said. He could see Artie lingeringin the hallway with some papers in his hand. Artie was in chargeof correspondence and took his job pretty seriously too, especiallyfor a kid who was only eighteen. Elvis had hired Artie as a favorto his second cousin, Babs, but the boy had turned out just fine.

    Mel motioned with his chin for Artie to come forward and statehis case, a slight gesture but enough to cause a lank of Mel'ssandy hair to fall across one eye. One of these days Elvis wasgoing to have to say something to him about his hair, if he couldonly figure out a way of doing it without hurting Mel's feelings.

    "It's ... it's a condolence note, Mr. Presley," Arthur stammered,the "S" in Presley lingering in a little whistle.

    "Jesus, you can't be bothering Elvis with shit like that!" Melbarked.

    "He surely can," Elvis said, setting his fork onto the plate."This here is protocol—I sign condolence notes myself."

    The boy crossed in front of Mel, holding a sheet of paperstraight out in front of him, and set it on the counter facing Elvis.Arthur responded to all of Elvis' s fan mail, usually with the standard,"I very much appreciated hearing from you" letter thatArthur then signed himself with a remarkable facsimile of Elvis'sown signature. But there were certain letters that Elvis insisted onseeing before they were sent out and that he signed personally—itwas just human decency: responses to folks who had named achild after him, to young people who had confided in their messagesabout difficulties with their parents, and to bereavementnotices, almost always to fans whose parents or grandparents hadpassed away and who were reaching out for some kind of consolationfrom their idol. But this condolence letter was to a MelbaWatkins of Maury City, just north of Memphis in CrockettCounty, and Melba was the mother of Lucybeth Watkins who haddied just a day before at the age of fourteen. Lucybeth, it wasnoted in Arthur's response, had been president of the Maury CityElvis Presley Fan Club.

    "Jesus God, fourteen years old," Elvis murmured, shaking hishead back and forth. "So young. Too young. Did they say what shedied of?"

    Arthur wagged his head, No.

    "It breaks my heart," Elvis murmured. Arthur handed him apen, and Elvis wrote at the bottom of the page: "I cannot imagineanything worse than the loss you have endured, and I wish therewas something I could do to ease the pain. God bless you, ElvisPresley." He started to hand the letter back to Arthur when hesaid, "Didn't we have another young one not too long ago?"

    "Week before last," Arthur said. "Seventeen years old. Outnear Chattanooga."

    "Sorrowful sad," Elvis whispered.

    "She ... she was a big fan too," Arthur said, keeping his eyesdown.

    "How do you mean?"

    "You know, president of your fan club down there," Arthurreplied.

    "Jesus!" Elvis drew in his breath in a big gulp and stood up,banging the counter so hard some coffee bounced out of his mug.

    "Hey, everybody's a big fan, man," Mel blurted. "Pick a manwalking down the street and ask him? He's a big fan. He's justalive, that's all."

    "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Elvis snapped.

    "Nothing," Mel said. "Just, you know—nothing."

    Mel saw it as part of his job to keep Elvis on an even keel, tosandbag any subject with the potential to rile him. No doubt theColonel had charged him with this particular duty, but Mel didn'thave the talent for it. In fact, whenever Mel blurted out somethinglike that, it made Elvis wonder if there wasn't some stick of dynamitehe'd missed.

    "Damn, it's probably drugs that did them in, poor kids," Elvissaid.

    "Yup, drugs," Mel chimed, just quick enough to make Elvisconsider that it might not be drugs at all.

    "What did that Chattanooga kid die of? You know?" Elvisasked.

    "Heart," Arthur replied. "Cardiac arrest."

    "Lord, God!" Elvis put a hand across his eyes. He could feeltears suddenly welling up for this poor child who probably didnothing worse in her life than listen to rock and roll after schoolwith her friends. Those sneak-up tears were starting to become aproblem too, just like the sleeplessness. Sometimes it felt like awhole lifetime of choking back tears was starting to catch upwith him.

    "That's the way drugs get you, right in the heart," Mel said.

    Elvis swallowed hard and opened his eyes again. "Did we sendthem anything, Artie?"

    "Just the note," Arthur replied.

    "We should have sent flowers at the very least, you know?"Elvis said. "Let's do that now, okay?"

    "Okay," Arthur said.

    "Not just a bouquet either. Send them a whole bushel of flowers.Lilies. My mama loved lilies. Found a whole lot of comfort inthem."

    "Okay," Arthur said. "Want me to do that for the folks up inMaury City too?"

    "Yes, you do that," Elvis said somberly, sitting down to hisbreakfast again. Arthur took the letter Elvis had signed and startedto leave when Elvis called after him, "You know when thatfuneral is, up there in Maury?"

    "Today," Arthur replied. "About now, actually."

    Elvis had started mopping up the coffee he had spilled when heabruptly stood up again.

    "I think we should pay our respects," he said.

Excerpted from Kill Me Tender by Daniel Klein. Copyright © 2000 by Daniel Klein. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Elvis rocks as an amateur sleuth

    When he left to serve in the Army, Elvis loved the music. Now that his tour is over and he is back as a civilian, Elvis struggles to regain the heart and soul that made him the King. <P>Elvis soon becomes aware that someone is killing the presidents of his Tennessee fan clubs. He also begins to receive records parodying his top hits. Not one to sit around munching on fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, Elvis begins an investigation into the murders, using the guise of an Elvis impersonator. <P>On the surface, readers, including this reviewer, will think that KILL ME TENDER is a ludicrous tale using Elvis to sell books that only presleyologists would enjoy. However, do not allow the title, the lead character, or the subject to fool the reader into thinking this novel is impersonating an amateur sleuth take. Instead, Daniel Klein succeeds into turning the King of Rock and Roll into the King of amateur sleuths. The tale works because the story line intermingles irony, facts and legend to turn Elvis into a genuine person not an icon investigating murders in a very segregated south. Sub genre fans will not now or ever return this superb novel to the publisher because this entertaining jailhouse tale rocks. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2000

    The King Rules!

    Elvis is alive and swell and hot on the trail of a serial killer in Daniel Klein's engaging new mystery called-- what else?-- Kill Me Tender. Seems somebody may be bumping off presidents of the rock idol's Tennessee fan clubs, too many of whom are dying suddenly of supposedly natural causes.But who'd do such a thing? And why? And, perhaps most baffling, how? Since the cops down there don't care much-- hell, the first victim's just a black teenager-- it's up to Elvis to do some investigating, with a little help from his friends (and from the perfect woman to make a grownup man of him).Surprisingly, the singer shows a real flair for sleuthing, bringing to the job plenty of down-home smarts as well as restless energy and refreshing decency. I've read some pretty entertaining mysteries featuring celebrity detectives such as Alfred Hitchcock, Talullah Bankhead, and Eleanor Roosevelt, but in story as in song I have to say the King rules. I give this charming and clever page-turner five pork chops.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2000

    The King Would Be Proud

    Just read a pre-publication copy of Daniel Klein's Elvis mystery, 'Kill Me Tender'. What a hoot! Elvis proves to be more than just another pretty pair of hips as he solves the mystery of the serial killings of his fan club presidents. Witty and suspenseful, 'Kill Me Tender' captures the King's style dead-on. This book is must reading for Elvis fans, mystery fans, and anyone looking for a good, fast-paced read. I hope this is the first of a long series. The possibilities for Elvis, P.I. are limitless. 'Kill Me Tender' would also make a great movie.

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