Viva Las Vengeance

Author: Daniel Klein

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

ISBN: 0-312-28806-9 (hardback, 264 pp.)


To paraphrase a well-known song from the musical "My Fair Lady," the rain in Spain really is a pain. Fortunately, however, during the brief period of rain experienced during my recent stay in that wonderful land, I had "Viva Las Vengeance" to keep my mind off the weather. Just the sort of light reading, but with a touch of Elvis, that someone like myself needs!

Continuing the tone set in the previous two "Elvis Sleuth" novels, "Viva Las Vengeance" offers compulsive reading. In this latest episode, Elvis is taking a rest in Las Vegas before starting the filming of "Roustabout" (and moaning about the quality of his films, too, as he studies the script!). However, the relative calm of Vegas is soon disturbed by a series of murders, arson attacks and even bee attacks, none of which the local police force seems capable of dealing with effectively. Elvis is prodded into action by an obnoxious college drop-out-cum-reporter-cum-writer, and is further aided by a local comedian, a prostitute and an exotic dancer. Add to the plot a hippie community, a born-again Christian group and some other off-centre characters and the recipe is complete for a superb piece of escapism that once started is hard to put down.

Once again, Klein has managed to keep the events within the realms of credibility, even given the line-up of characters in the previous paragraph! He uses just a small amount of literary licence to enhance the story, but it generally fits into Elvis's real-life time schedule, and his characterisation of Elvis is spot on: the way he speaks, his movements, his reactions, all just right. As fans we know that it was at about this time that Elvis became interested in spiritual matters, yoga, and so on, and this is cleverly linked into the story.

But you need not be an Elvis fan to enjoy the book, though if you're reading this review, then you probably are! Still, you could always offer the book as a present to someone who needs persuading that Elvis can be great fun even away from the CD player or TV screen! It's a great story that just rolls along, with plenty of fun, action, discovery and disappointment.

There are a few references to the previous stories in the series, but these do not make any knowledge of those books necessary and "Viva Las Vengeance" can be read perfectly well on its own. Mind you, if you missed the earlier two, you'll almost certainly want to find them after having finished this one.

"Viva Las Vengeance" is the third in a series of "Elvis sleuth" novels, following on from "Kill Me Tender" and "Blue Suede Clues," written by US author Daniel Klein. This is one American Trilogy that I hope will become a Million Dollar Quartet, so I can't wait for the next one to come along!


David Neale

copyright April 2003

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