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The Return of the King

The Return of the King
Author: Michael Hodjera
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN: 0-595-33155-6 (Paperback, 239 pp.)
Elvis fiction has taken great strides since the early 1990s, when it started to become a recognisable sub-section of the Elvis publishing industry. It remains pure fiction, of course, but it can nevertheless be enjoyable to read about Elvis in unusual, unbelievable, and sometimes unseemly situations. Not all Elvis fiction is good, some is simply poorly written, some is based on weak storylines, some just scatters Elvis a little through its pages as a sort of bait.
”The Return of the King” is the latest addition to the fiction section of the Elvis Library. Author Michael Hodjera is a songwriter, record producer and recording artist in his own right, who once lived in Hawaii. Handy, for the story is set in Hawaii and Hodjera’s knowledge of the islands helps give it more credibility.
The tale itself is relatively easy reading, written largely in the first person past tense, the narrator being Elvis himself. Some sections are, however, written in the third person present historic tense, which increases the tension. At times, the style makes me think back to the old ”Dragnet” radio series, probably too long ago for most readers to remember, I’m sure!
The story is based on the premise that Elvis did not die. Fair enough, nothing new there. However, it is now almost thirty years after his supposed death, and Elvis is in good health, clearly in far better shape than should be expected from his almost 70 years. This ploy, of course, allows Elvis to become actively involved in the pursuit of the criminal elements who threaten the peace and serenity of the islands. The story then becomes almost the script of a new Elvis film, with good-looking girls, lovely scenery, car chases and fights. On occasion this seems somewhat contrived, such as when Elvis starts singing in a night-club — nothing unusual about that in an Elvis film, but at this point in the book he is trying to save someone from her pursuers and his vocal efforts are in no way meant as diversionary tactics. This is of course, utter fantasy, but sometimes even the fantasy goes rather too far. After almost thirty years away, nobody questions that this really is Elvis and even someone who knew Elvis in his ”previous life” simply accepts that he did not die, after all, and that he has now simply turned up after 30 years, looking the picture of good health: no awkward questions, no doubts, no searching. Then there’s the girl in the music shop who apparently has never heard of Elvis, and perhaps the least said about the totally unrehearsed, but apparently stunning full on-stage concert, the first for almost thirty years, the better! Sometimes even fiction is just too unbelievable!
Accept this excess of fantasy and the story is highly readable and is certainly unusual, with some good surprises. This is almost Daniel Klein meets Bram Stoker — Elvis meets Dracula! The author seems to have a good understanding of Elvis that is perhaps worthy of rather more than a mere film plot. And the book does answer a question I have often asked myself: what sort of personal computer would Elvis have used? A Mac, of course — the man had class!
Just a few setting errors mar the printing and, given that-this is an iUniverse publication and not one from a large publishing house, these are certainly excusable and do not detract from the reading pleasure.
David Neale
copyright April 2005
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