Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Elvis -- or his ghost -- rocks the joint!

E-book 2011

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.

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