The King just can’t get any respect in Hollywood. Colonel Parker’s wearing him out with demeaning publicity stunts, and Ann-Margret’s making trouble by announcing to the press that she and Mr. Presley are in love. What will his new bride Priscilla think? Trapped in fluffy vehicles like Kissin’ Cousins, Elvis longs for a challenging role to display his acting chops. When he puts out a call for high-quality scripts, wackos come out of the woodwork with everything but. Even so, one appeal strikes his fancy. Stuntman Freddy Littlejon, a.k.a. Squirm, writes from prison to claim that he’s been framed for the murder of starlet Holly McDougall. He encloses a picture of himself meeting Elvis, both in military uniforms. Elvis doesn’t remember Squirm, but because he feels a special affinity for both stuntmen and servicemen, he turns sleuth for the second time (Kill Me Tender, 2000). The search takes him from a rodeo to the mean streets of Durango to the UCLA science lab, with stops at many Hollywood locations. Meantime, Squirm’s suspiciously easy escape from prison makes the investigation a race against the clock. Multiple sets of twins, including both attorneys in Squirm’s murder trial, run illogically through the story, triggering wistful flashbacks for Elvis, whose twin brother Jesse died at birth, and exasperation for everybody else.
Klein’s serviceable writing doesn’t fulfill the promise of his idea. Surrounded by desperately unfunny cartoon suspects, his Elvis is a surprisingly generic sleuth, with few quirks and little appeal. Readers are likely to leave the building way ahead of him.