review of One Less Elvis (and Other Stories) from WCR

 

Book Review: One Less Elvis (and Other Stories)

Elvis,w effects 2One Less Elvis (& Other Stories). Kent McDaniel. Amazon Digital Services, Inc., December 20, 2013, Kindle E-Book, 64 pages.

Reviewed by David Laipple.

Chicago author Kent McDaniel shows us how to have fun with short stories, starting with a novelette, who-done-it murder mystery. The title story, One Less Elvis, is a story about Elvis impersonators prodding a reluctant police detective to find the murderer of one of their own. Kent McDaniel’s hero sleuth—retired school teacher, “white-haired geezer,” and Elvis impersonator, Brendan Culhane—weaves through the evidence and the private lives of a baker’s dozen of suspects, solving the mystery of who killed Larry “Hound Dog” Vasquez and letting the reader wonder if Elvis still drives a pick-up truck.

The first of Kent’s four other stories, Or Someplace Shining, relates how the not-very Reverend McDermott creatively resolves an adolescent’s issue through practicing acceptance rather than judgment, discovering along the way that sometimes doing the right thing involves buying a quarter pound of pot. If you like your comedy with a little tragedy and appreciate a good premise, set-up, and punch line like I do, you’ll really enjoy This and That, which is about making the best of things in life, valuing what you have, and the unintended consequences of the best intentions of others.

In The Great Escape, a young man implements “The Plan” to get free of his crazy family, but his plan is crazier than his family. Things go terribly wrong for the young man and his parents in this dark send-up of the worst instincts of a very troubled mind. In the last short story, Pizzazz, Jimmy Stu, A.K.A. the televangelist Reverend Sloan, is dragging a little bit as he struggles with doubt and coming to terms with his mortality and Mission on earth. He resolves his struggle with a satirical flourish as he delivers a stirring sermon convincing his congregants to fund a cryonic effort on his behalf so he can return from the dead one day to continue his work for God. Pizzazz was Kent McDaniel’s short-story inspiration for his novel, Jimmy Stu Lives, which is also available on Amazon Kindle.

Kent McDaniel’s characters are unapologetic, self-aware go-getters who don’t waste time as they go about their business in a matter-of-fact style that fills his stories with life–and the occasional death–in a fun way. For a good time, read One Less Elvis (& Other Stories),” and then everything else Kent has written.

The above review is reposted from Windy City Reviews (www.windycityreviews.org).

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About kentmcdanielwrites

Writer and musician.

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