- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Review: `Little Elvises’ compelling, suspenseful
Ever since Dashiell Hammett introduced us to Sam Spade in “The Maltese Falcon” 83 years ago, hundreds of writers have adopted his formula, flooding the bookshelves with wisecracking private eyes who work both sides of the law, disrespect authority, icily stare down gun barrels and conceal an immutable code of honor beneath a cynical outer shell.
This can get awfully tiresome, but every now and then a writer comes along with the imagination and skill to make the whole thing feel fresh and new again. That’s what veteran crime novelist Timothy Hallinan has accomplished with his latest series of novels featuring Junior Bender, full-time Los Angeles burglar and part-time private eye-style fixer for the city’s criminal element.
The first book in the series, “Crashed” (2012), was great fun. The new one, “Little Elvises,” is even better, with an intricate high-stakes plot, a compelling subplot and heart-pounding suspense.
As the story opens, Junior is in a fix, or rather, a bunch of them. The ex-wife he still yearns for has a new man in her life. His precocious daughter, who just turned 13, has acquired her first boyfriend, and Junior doesn’t approve. The daughter of Junior’s eccentric landlady has run off with a cad, and she needs Junior’s help to bring her home. And an L.A.P.D. detective is going to frame Junior for invading a judge’s house, pistol-whipping his honor’s wife and stealing their jade collection unless Junior finds a way to get the cop’s elderly uncle out of a murder rap.
The uncle, a record producer in Philadelphia back in the 1950s, got rich by recruiting a bunch of no-talent pretty boys, fixing their hair and teaching them to curl their lips to make them look like Elvis Presley, and foisting their abysmal howls on teenage record buyers. (Those with the misfortune of remembering the likes of Len Barry, Johnny Caswell and Johnny Madara know this really happened.) Hence, the book’s title.
Along the way, Hallinan introduces us to a drugged-out, pain-impervious hit man, a nonagenarian puppet master who rules the L.A. underworld, a tabloid reporter who uses his job as a cover to blackmail the rich and the famous, and a host of other characters as dangerously outrageous as the murderous crew obsessed with obtaining the black bird in Hammett’s 1930 masterpiece.
Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of “Cliff Walk” and “Rogue Island.”
TWT Video Picks
By Emily Miller
Billionaire gets mobbed by fans at CPAC
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- BRUCE: Obama's bizarre immigration rules
- Unemployment insurance vote could happen next week
- Two liberals say Sarah Palin is right: Obama lacks substance
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- 'Holy grail of guitars' among those in N.Y. auction
- IRS to turn over Lerner emails in tea party targeting probe
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again