Such Vicious Minds

Author: Daniel Klein

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

ISBN: 0-312-31940-1 (Hardback, 226 pp.)


Daniel Klein does it again!

Thanks to author Daniel Klein, we Elvis fans have been able to enjoy our hero in a guise that we know he would himself have enjoyed, that of amateur sleuth, on three occasions already: Kill Me Tender, Blue Suede Clues, and Viva Las Vengeance. Klein maintains the musical link in the title of the fourth book in the successful series, with Such Vicious Minds.

Dateline 1965 and Elvis finds himself thinking about starring in a decent film for a change. He realises that the likes of Parker and Wallace are unlikely to come up with the goods, so he decides to take matters into his own hands. His plans, however, are interrupted when he is accused of numerous unseemly relations with some of the local lassies -- and, worse, there is photographic evidence to prove it! Elvis has no choice but to take matters into his own hands in order to clear up the mystery and clear his name.

As in the previous titles, the story of Such Vicious Minds is embellished by a cast of weird and wonderful characters, plus occasional flashbacks to the earlier adventures. Tom Parker gets a sizeable supporting role, but the main sidekick this time is none other than Terry Southern, the writer who provided the screenplay for one of Elvis's favourite films, Doctor Strangelove, and who in Klein's story has been summoned by Elvis to help provide him with a film story, based on Elvis's own ideas.

Careful sleuthing and encounters with numerous peculiar, sometimes less than savoury, characters finally lead Elvis and Terry to the truth behind the crimes of which Elvis is accused. The whole story is filled with amusing situations together with some excellent banter and word-play along the way, as the main protagonists travel around Tennessee following their various leads. All is revealed in the end, of course, and the climax provides for the real-life events that occurred to both Elvis and Terry Southern some time after these fictional ones -- clever stuff! Great escapist reading, never too heavy and always enjoyable.

Perhaps Klein has taken rather more liberties with the "truth" in Such Vicious Minds than in his previous efforts, but that really doesn't matter, for everything fits nicely into the timeframe. At the same time, Klein again demonstrates his understanding of Elvis's mindset and a great sympathy for him. The story is an excellent addition to the series, that seems as if it could go on for a long time yet. Sadly, however, rumours have it that Such Vicious Minds will be the last. A pity -- after all, Agatha Christie's Belgian amateur sleuth, Hercule Poirot, managed no less than thirty-nine novels (along with sixty-five short stories!), so there is a good precedent for expecting more Elvis sleuths!


David Neale
(Please note that this review is based on an uncorrected proof copy of the book. Such Vicious Minds will be published on 18 August, 2004.)

copyright June 2004

email me!

Return to previous page Return to previous page