Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: Officer Elvis by Gary Gusick

Officer Elvis: A Darla Cavannah Mystery
by Gary M. Gusick
Publisher: Alibi
Published: Apr. 21, 2015

Amazon Synopsis:

In the vein of Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner, Gary Gusick takes readers on an explosive ride-along with Mississippi detective Darla Cavannah, a Yankee transplant making her name in the Deep South.
After performing at a local old-folks home, off-duty police officer and part-time Elvis impersonator Tommy Reylander smoothes out his pompadour, climbs into his pink Caddy, and gets all shook up—fatally so, when a bomb explodes. Whether he was killed for his police work or bad singing is a mystery that detective Darla Cavannah is determined to solve.
Though it’s been several years since Darla (reluctantly) partnered up with Tommy, she convinces her boss to let her lead the murder investigation. As the new regional director of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Shelby Mitchell can think of better uses for his star detective’s time, but not even the most hardened good ole boy can resist Darla’s smart, savvy persuasions. She soon embarks on a roller coaster ride through the world of Elvis tribute artists while tracking down one of the most bizarre serial killers in the history of the Magnolia State. Aiding her pursuit of the killer is recently reprimanded officer Rita Gibbons, fresh from the trailer park and described by Shelby as “half a licorice stick short in the manners department.” But Rita’s plenty smart, even when this case takes their suspicious minds in an entirely unexpected direction.

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My Thoughts:

Officer Elvis fits into the adult category due to adult language, sexual innuendoes and profanity.

Lieutenant  Darla Cavannah, worked with the MBI, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. Her one time partner, Tommy Reylander, when she worked for the Hinds County Sheriff's Office, was an Elvis Tribute Artist. Upon arriving at work, she discovered that "Officer Elvis" as he was known by his stage name had been blown up the night before at his last performance. She felt that although they hadn't gotten along well as partners, it was part of "the unwritten code" that they should work they case and find the murder. She wanted to lead the investigation.

Darla is given three days to come up with some good leads or turn the case over to the local county department. What she comes up with is bigger and stranger than anyone could have imagined.

Officer Elvis started out moderately paced and then picked up speed as it approached its climax. I thought the mix of Elvis Presley history and fiction made for an interesting basis for the story.

As this is the second book in the Darla Cavannah series, we were able to see a further development in Darla's professional character. Unfortunately we only find one scene with her new husband so we don't find much more about her personal life.

There are returning members from the first book such as Major Shelby Mitchell, her superior officer and Uther Pendragon Johnson - FBI research specialist, and new characters like Detective Rita Gibbons, her new partner and Elvis Presley aficionado. It was a lot of fun to see what information Uther was able to dig up through his resources and Rita’s knowledge of Elvis was quite impressive.

Watching the killer’s planning was fascinating. It was very well thought out and had definitely been thought about for some time. The way he made various planned steps ahead of time kept me wanting to keep reading to see what he was going to do with those steps since he didn’t execute them right away.

There were quite a number of twists and turns in the plot of this story, so much so that the story turns out to be about so much more than what it looks like at first glance. Officer Elvis is not the only Elvis Presley tribute artist who is murdered in the short few weeks leading up to a large competition. One of the questions that comes up during the investigations is why would the killer take out Officer Elvis who usually places last, or near last in this competition every year?

Despite the adult themes and profanity, I found the basic story itself to be very interesting. Those who are Elvis Presley fans will enjoy this novel, I'm sure. I gave it 4 stars out of 5.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Gary Gusick is a retired advertising executive with over thirty years experience as a copywriter and creative director. He is a multiple winner of virtually every national and international award for creative excellence in advertising.
The Last Clinic is his first novel. The Alzheimer's Patient Who Couldn't Forget, Gary's second novel, another murder mystery, is currently available on Amazon/Kindle.
Gary is married and lives in Jackson, Mississippi.

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