Cover image for Kill me tender : a murder mystery featuring the singing sleuth Elvis Presley
Kill me tender : a murder mystery featuring the singing sleuth Elvis Presley
Klein, Daniel M., 1939-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2000.
Physical Description:
227 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Lackawanna Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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The King is back! With his fan club presidents dying mysteriously, Elvis steps in to find the killer . . .Back from his tour of duty in Germany-and desperately missing his Mamma-Elvis Aron Presley just isn't turned on by the music anymore.Not the way he used to be.Between dealing with his Machiavellian manager, the hangers-on and childhood pals crowding his Graceland mansion, and his own propensity for gobbling down fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, the King tries desperately to get his heart back into Rock and Roll.But how can the King sing when young girls-the presidents of his fan clubs-are dying all over Tennessee? Elvis suspects foul play. To prove it, and to find the killer, he'll need to navigate the resentment, squareness, and bigotry that hound-dog him at every turn. Only by allying himself with a self-taught doctor in a small black community, his alluring-and forbidden-nurse, and a mysterious early Elvis impersonator, can Presley hope to Take Care of Business in time to save the next victim . . .AUTHORBIO: Daniel Klein is the author of four previous novels, including the thrillers, "Embryo" and "Beauty Sleep."He is the co-author of the popular humor books, "Where's Elvis?" and "Macho Meditations."A graduate of Harvard, he lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Unlike your usual celebrity sleuth, Elvis Presley makes a natural detective in this winning whodunit, set in Tennessee after the singer has returned to civilian life from the army. When Elvis Presley fan-club presidents, all teenage girls, start dying of unknown causes, Elvis becomes concerned enough to do more than just write condolence notes to the families. He personally investigates the deaths (not an easy task when you're famous), in due course determining that each victim was poisoned by a rare Chinese drug. Meanwhile, he begins to receive demo records with sinister parodies of his songs, such as "Kill Me Tender" for "Love Me Tender." In his statewide quest for the murderer, Elvis attends his high school reunion, wanders into a bar full of Elvis impersonators and finally gets arrested in a small redneck townDthe perfect setting for a real jailhouse rock. At the climax, in a suspenseful race to stop the killer from striking again, he must even pass as an Elvis impersonator. For all the novel's amusing contrivances, nothing seems forced or ridiculous, so cleverly does Klein (Beauty Sleep, etc.) use actual Elvis lore to serve his plot. The background of the early-1960s segregated South is also deftly presented, and the method of poisoning is both ingenious and fiendishly fitting. Elvis's romance with a black nurse, Selma du Pres, may be too good to be true (or to last), but Selma takes a key part in the bittersweet ending. Above all, Elvis, here at his most gentle and charming, is irresistible. This mystery has a heart as big as its humble hero's. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Sorrowful Sad Elvis was sitting at the kitchen counter in the red silk pajamas he had bought in Munich, working his way through a three-egg omelette and humming with his mouth full. It was the kind of singsong hum he often woke up with in his brain, more feeling than melody, the leftover sounds of a dream that had swum away from him before he could remember it. From the noise he was making through his omelette, he figured it must have been one hell of a melancholy dream--probably the result of reading that wretched book about devildom into the wee hours of the morning.     Cook slipped a plate of bacon and grits onto the counter and Elvis smiled up at her appreciatively. Breakfast was Elvis's favorite meal of the day, even if he was breaking his fast this day at one in the afternoon. The only decent hours of sleep he got lately came after the sun was up. Doc Mack thought he was still adjusting to the time change from Europe, but that didn't figure--he'd been back for months. No, it was something else that yanked him awake every time he'd start to drop off, this sudden panicky feeling that he was in free fall.     Elvis started cutting up his omelette when he heard a ruckus coming from the front hall. It sounded like Mel giving the business to Artie again. Mel took his job as gatekeeper pretty damned seriously, maybe too seriously sometimes.     "What the hell's going on out there?" Elvis called. "Sounds like a couple of piglets fighting over the teat."     Mel ambled up to the door to the kitchen but, respectfully, stopped just short of entering. Lately Mel had been letting his hair grow long, beatniklike, transforming a fairly good-looking young man into what looked for all the world like a crab-faced harridan.     "Didn't know you were up, Elvis," Mel said.     "What's Artie want?" Elvis said. He could see Artie lingering in the hallway with some papers in his hand. Artie was in charge of correspondence and took his job pretty seriously too, especially for a kid who was only eighteen. Elvis had hired Artie as a favor to his second cousin, Babs, but the boy had turned out just fine.     Mel motioned with his chin for Artie to come forward and state his case, a slight gesture but enough to cause a lank of Mel's sandy hair to fall across one eye. One of these days Elvis was going to have to say something to him about his hair, if he could only figure out a way of doing it without hurting Mel's feelings.     "It's ... it's a condolence note, Mr. Presley," Arthur stammered, the "S" in Presley lingering in a little whistle.     "Jesus, you can't be bothering Elvis with shit like that!" Mel barked.     "He surely can," Elvis said, setting his fork onto the plate. "This here is protocol--I sign condolence notes myself."     The boy crossed in front of Mel, holding a sheet of paper straight out in front of him, and set it on the counter facing Elvis. Arthur responded to all of Elvis' s fan mail, usually with the standard, "I very much appreciated hearing from you" letter that Arthur then signed himself with a remarkable facsimile of Elvis's own signature. But there were certain letters that Elvis insisted on seeing before they were sent out and that he signed personally--it was just human decency: responses to folks who had named a child after him, to young people who had confided in their messages about difficulties with their parents, and to bereavement notices, almost always to fans whose parents or grandparents had passed away and who were reaching out for some kind of consolation from their idol. But this condolence letter was to a Melba Watkins of Maury City, just north of Memphis in Crockett County, and Melba was the mother of Lucybeth Watkins who had died just a day before at the age of fourteen. Lucybeth, it was noted in Arthur's response, had been president of the Maury City Elvis Presley Fan Club.     "Jesus God, fourteen years old," Elvis murmured, shaking his head back and forth. "So young. Too young. Did they say what she died of?"     Arthur wagged his head, No.     "It breaks my heart," Elvis murmured. Arthur handed him a pen, and Elvis wrote at the bottom of the page: "I cannot imagine anything worse than the loss you have endured, and I wish there was something I could do to ease the pain. God bless you, Elvis Presley." He started to hand the letter back to Arthur when he said, "Didn't we have another young one not too long ago?"     "Week before last," Arthur said. "Seventeen years old. Out near Chattanooga."     "Sorrowful sad," Elvis whispered.     "She ... she was a big fan too," Arthur said, keeping his eyes down.     "How do you mean?"     "You know, president of your fan club down there," Arthur replied.     "Jesus!" Elvis drew in his breath in a big gulp and stood up, banging the counter so hard some coffee bounced out of his mug.     "Hey, everybody's a big fan, man," Mel blurted. "Pick a man walking down the street and ask him? He's a big fan. He's just alive, that's all."     "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Elvis snapped.     "Nothing," Mel said. "Just, you know--nothing."     Mel saw it as part of his job to keep Elvis on an even keel, to sandbag any subject with the potential to rile him. No doubt the Colonel had charged him with this particular duty, but Mel didn't have the talent for it. In fact, whenever Mel blurted out something like that, it made Elvis wonder if there wasn't some stick of dynamite he'd missed.     "Damn, it's probably drugs that did them in, poor kids," Elvis said.     "Yup, drugs," Mel chimed, just quick enough to make Elvis consider that it might not be drugs at all.     "What did that Chattanooga kid die of? You know?" Elvis asked.     "Heart," Arthur replied. "Cardiac arrest."     "Lord, God!" Elvis put a hand across his eyes. He could feel tears suddenly welling up for this poor child who probably did nothing worse in her life than listen to rock and roll after school with her friends. Those sneak-up tears were starting to become a problem too, just like the sleeplessness. Sometimes it felt like a whole lifetime of choking back tears was starting to catch up with him.     "That's the way drugs get you, right in the heart," Mel said.     Elvis swallowed hard and opened his eyes again. "Did we send them anything, Artie?"     "Just the note," Arthur replied.     "We should have sent flowers at the very least, you know?" Elvis said. "Let's do that now, okay?"     "Okay," Arthur said.     "Not just a bouquet either. Send them a whole bushel of flowers. Lilies. My mama loved lilies. Found a whole lot of comfort in them."     "Okay," Arthur said. "Want me to do that for the folks up in Maury City too?"     "Yes, you do that," Elvis said somberly, sitting down to his breakfast again. Arthur took the letter Elvis had signed and started to leave when Elvis called after him, "You know when that funeral is, up there in Maury?"     "Today," Arthur replied. "About now, actually."     Elvis had started mopping up the coffee he had spilled when he abruptly stood up again.     "I think we should pay our respects," he said. Excerpted from Kill Me Tender by Daniel Klein. Copyright © 2000 by Daniel Klein. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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