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Little Elvises: A Junior Bender Mystery    by Timothy Hallinan order for
Little Elvises
by Timothy Hallinan
Order:  USA  Can
Soho, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This new series features a very unlikely protagonist. Junior Bender is not only a Los Angeles thief with a deft touch, but he also dabbles in detection for individuals on both sides of the judicial system.

In this story Junior is enlisted by a LAPD detective to prove that his shady uncle did not murder the tabloid journalist whom he had threatened to kill a couple of times.

The informal investigation centers around Vincent DiGaudio whose claim to fame dates back to the 1950s when he was the brains behind creating and marketing a series of minor rock stars known in the industry as the Little Elvises.

The former Philly music mogul is hiding some deep, dark secrets but not necessarily the ones that Junior expects to find in his posh mansion. With the help of his savvy, teenage daughter who knows more about pop music than he does, Junior uses his shady contacts to dig into DiGaudio's past. That path, though, brings him to the attention of Irwin Dressler, Hollywood's behind-the-scenes mover and shaker who has been dubbed The Dark Lord.

For decades Dressler has been the puppet master controlling not only politicians and businessmen but also the criminal element in LA and throughout the state. 'The man with the plan, the geographer of local history. Famous and powerful men and women had been his hand puppets, acting out the plays he wrote for them.'

Eventually, Junior realizes the murder he was coerced into investigating is not the one he should be focusing upon and that this little caper has career altering possibilities.

Although his main focus is on DiGaudio and his activities, Junior takes a little detour to also deal with a serial killer who has run off with his landlady's daughter. Providing an interesting sidebar to the central problem facing Junior, this little diversion is one of a few others, of a personal nature, that spice up the plot a bit.

With a sense of humor and dry wit that has had his novels mentioned in the same breath as those of Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen and Donald Westlake, Timothy Hallinan's work is not only very entertaining but funny too. He doesn't take himself too seriously and that's a good thing, a very good thing!

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