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by Timothy Hallinan
Soho, January 2013
352 pages
ISBN: 1616952776

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Junior Bender is a professional burglar who has at times acted as a private investigator for some of his friends on the wrong side of the law. Unfortunately, Detective DiGaudio is using this information against him. In exchange for not being accused of a robbery he did not commit, Junior must prove that the cop's uncle, Vincent Di Gaudio, did not murder a slimy tabloid journalist named Derek Bigelow. Back in the 1960s, Vinnie was the manager for a series of young pop stars known as "Little Elvises." Each of the boys would be in the limelight for a short while and then replaced when their popularity waned.

Things quickly get complicated. While he is investigating the murder, he meets the writer's wife and finds himself falling for her. He knows that this is probably not a good idea, since it doesn't appear that she is not somehow involved in what happened to her husband. At the same time, his landlady's daughter goes missing and he feels compelled to try to find her. And then there's the drama on the home front—his ex-wife has a live-in boyfriend and his 13-year-old daughter Rina is trying to figure out which parent she will choose to live with in the future.

Rina proves to be invaluable in working on Vinnie's case. She has deep background knowledge of the music industry and aids Junior in understanding the Little Elvises' situation. There are a few of the Elvises who stood out, some for their talent and some for other reasons. "Giorgio" falls into the latter category; he is completely beautiful but doesn't have an ounce of talent. Eventually, he becomes a movie star; later, he completely disappears from the life and is presumed dead.

In addition to a nicely complex plot, Hallinan has peopled LITTLE ELVISES with a wide variety of unforgettable characters. He has an uncanny knack for inserting humorous observations into a narrative that is by turns amusing or suspenseful without ever going over the top. I did wish that Junior would balance his private investigation duties with his trademark robberies—those are always very entertaining. But that's a minor issue in a series where the lead character has so much heart, despite his career choices.

§ Formerly a training development manager for a large company, Maddy is now retired and continues to enable the addiction of crime fiction fans as owner of the online discussion group, 4 Mystery Addicts(4MA), while avidly reading in every possible free moment herself.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, February 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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