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ELVIS AND THE GRATEFUL DEAD
by Peggy Webb
Kensington, October 2009
240 pages
$22.00
ISBN: 0758225911


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Callie Valentine Jones is still not divorced from Jack, because Jack won't give her custody of their basset hound Elvis. Elvis is passing comment, about every third chapter, about his human "parents" and the myriad of Elvis impersonators at the Tupelo Elvis Festival. Callie's Uncle Charlie is on the Committee, as (apparently) are a substantial number of the citizens of Mooreville. For some reason, Uncle Charlie and Aunt Rubie Nell are not getting along; this is unusual. Aunt Rubie Nell is Lovie's mother, and Lovie and Callie are best friends. Do you need a scorecard yet?

As one might imagine, there are lots of Elvis impersonators wandering around Tupelo. They start dying. Publicly. Poisoned. For reasons which didn't stick in my mind (and I finished this book yesterday), Lovie is a suspect. Callie is determined to prove her cousin is not guilty. Lovie is far more interested in getting Rocky, the boyfriend from ELVIS AND THE DEARLY DEPARTED, to take their relationship to the next level. A level apparently enjoyed by lots of men in Lovie's past, but not one that Rocky seems inclined to enjoy. This is making Lovie absolutely crazy.

Of course, there are other suspects. There are lots of shenanigans going on, and lots of people are involved. Eventually, the reader finds out who is making sure that Elvis really leaves the building.

Webb's strong suit is definitely her ability to create characters. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time thinking that Callie should get over Jack - just because he's wonderful in bed doesn't mean he's worth the energy to shoot him. Jack is, no matter what Callie thinks of him, a lying dog-in-the-manger selfish guy. Callie also ventures a bit far into TSTL [too stupid to live] territory more often than I'd like. See - Webb creates characters that evoke a strong response. Why is it that none of the people in Webb's Mississippi are people of color? Why do most of them have incredibly odd names, reinforcing some major Deep South stereotypes? My other major problem with this book is this: nobody really solves the crimes. Callie narrows it down a lot, but the killer eventually goes off the deep end and in the process reveals him/herself to everyone. Callie and Lovie spend a lot of time trying to track down a killer, but don't really succeed. If character-driven novels work for you, and you don't mind over-the-top cutesy (Elvis and his world view), Webb may be just the writer for you.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, November 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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