Cue the love interest as the comely if eccentric widow of the late journalist – the latter something of a scoundrel, it turns out – warms up merrily to Junior, while he warily reciprocates. After all, she’s a bit of an unknown entity in the midst of trouble-tossed circumstances, and he’s preoccupied with his investigation. Which might get a little sidetracked from time to time: Things get a little more complicated when Bender’s boozehound landlady implores him to look into the disappearance of her daughter. At this point, Junior may as well quit his day job for a while – with his new schedule, he’d be lucky to be able to steal a few minutes for a nap now and then.
Indeed, the plot thickens as the pace quickens in this rewarding if off-kilter crime caper. Little Elvises' twists and turns have their own twists and turns – hairpin turns – as the narrative careens at hazardously high speeds through circuitous story arcs and screwball scenarios all over the map (well, mostly back and forth “over the hill” between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley). Reading along gets to be a whiplash of a challenge, but it’s well worth hanging on, cliffhangers and all. Along the way Hallinan’s tossing out more than the odd bon mot and witty quip; he captures the SoCal milieu perfectly and impeccably. As illustrated in his take on the modern obsession with plastic surgery and botoxicated makeovers, Hallinan asserts that one such dupe may even “had surgery on her vowels, which sounded like she’s spent her childhood as a prisoner in a BBC serial before escaping to Brooklyn.” In any case, her facial restructuring suggests a one-step-forward, two-steps-back course of inaction:
"Melissa Simmons spent a fortune on not aging, and she hadn’t. Instead of moving forward with the rest of us, towed in the wake of time’s arrow, she’d gone sideways, into a parallel universe where people’s faces morphed monthly, lips plumping, cheekbones swelling, chins clefting, noses shrinking, muscles relaxing to the point of paralysis, neck skin stretching as tight as a drumhead.”