David's Reviews > Kill Me Tender

Kill Me Tender by Daniel Klein
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Feb 17, 11

bookshelves: completed
Read in February, 2011

Once again, author Daniel Klein offers us an insight into the character and nature of Elvis Presley while offering a cleverly written mystery. Klein has obviously done his homework on the history and private life of "the king" and this flavors up a clever mystery that is often morose and worried.

This time, members of Elvis fan clubs are dying mysterious deaths related to heart failure. Elvis gets word and begins to suspect foul play. He begins to investigate leading to run-ins with Elvis impersonators, local law enforcement, gushing fans, and Jew-hating klansmen. Klein emphasizes Elvis' fascination with reading non-fictional materials and karate chops. Once again the fun of this series, more than each individual mystery, is that the hero is Elvis. While it is a "fictional" Elvis, Klein works to get the details right and it is done in such a way that the reader can almost hear Elvis' throaty drawl while reading the dialogue. Klein also inserts REAL events into the novels to give the reader even more insight into Elvis.

Klein pushes the envelope a bit in this particular novel, however. How far should a fiction writer go when using a real-life character? In this instance, I felt that Klein went too far with a romantic entanglement. Elvis becomes in involved with a beautiful African-American women and almost immediately they are involved sexually. On one hand the quick sexual involvment pushed the line-- but Klein also puts Elvis BEYOND a simple sexual affair, making it seem like a tragic love affair and that Elvis would have done the "right" thing by falling in love and marrying her. This was over-the-top for me not because Elvis was a typical Southern white boy with racist attitudes (though rumors suggest that he was exactly that, you better research them more carefully- he demonstrated over and over that he was not a racist)-- but because I don't feel that people really fall completely and totally in love (as suggested in this work of fiction) in just a day or two. The only people who feel as strongly as Elvis does so quickly are people who are messed up emotionally, and desperate to be loved. And there, Klein ties fiction in with reality. Elvis, though beloved by millions, was indeed, desperate for love, or what he thought was love. So while Klein pushes the envelope, he probably isn't as far over-the-top as I felt as I read this work.

The mystery itself is well-played, and even though Klein played fair and planted real clues for the reader so we wouldn't call foul when the killer came from left field (he didn't.. it was there for the reader to see, even though I didn't see it until nearly the end) A fun read.
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