The only problem with Little Elvises is that you’ll laugh so hard the tears are apt to short out your eReader. A screwball comedy worthy of Johnathan Latimer’s William Crane and cynically funny as Donald Westlake’s John Dortmunder stories. You just can’t help but love Junior Bender.
This isn’t just a funny book. This is serious hardboiled noir and Los Angles, and the area around L.A., make even the most screwball characters believable. I think I went to high school with Fronts and Marge has been my landlady more than once… Little Elvises is a romp through LaLa land inside a convoluted plot that somehow is familiar and decipherable and, most of all, enjoyable. Junior Bender is a high-end thief and burglar who not only has never been caught, but is well known by the authorities, but often finds himself in the unenviable position of solving problems for other criminal elements and those who can’t seek “justice” through the law. He’s the crook's cop; the lost and found detective for those on the other side of the fence.
The Little Elvises opens with Junior being detained by the police for the Hammer job, which he wasn’t involved in. A judge and his wife were robbed at gun point and the wife was pistol whipped. Naturally the cops are under some pressure to bring the perps in. It’s well known that Junior never uses a gun, and he has many alibi witnesses. Case closed… but not so fast. It doesn’t matter that Junior is innocent to Detective DiGaudio, because he has intimidated the witnesses. As he tells Junior, “It doesn’t matter whether you did it. What matters is that we can make you for it.”
Junior quickly sees that they are working towards “an act of generosity” on the part of the cops. Seems detective DiGaudio has an uncle, Vincent (don’t call me Vinnie) DiGaudio who back in the fifties made a mint turning out Little Elvises in the music business. Little Elvises; Handsome Italian kids with tight pants and big hair and little or no tallent. American pop culture imitates itself, the way it stamps out little tin copies of anything original that makes money. For instance all the Little Elvises from Philly who were churned to the surface in the wake of Elvis Presley. Vincent DiGaudio, who lined his pockets with the star dust of the imitation Elvises is rumored to be mob connected. But only rumored, you understand. Just because he’s Italian. In Philly. In the music business, why would anyone think he was mobbed up?