It's hard to ignore someone with his hands in your mouth. Bernie Rhodenbarr's all ears when Dr. Sheldrake, his dentist, starts complaining about his detestable, soon-to-be-ex wife, and happens to mention the valuable diamonds she keeps lying around the apartment. Since Bernie's been known to supplement his income as a bookstore owner with the not-so-occasional bout of high-rise burglary, a couple of nights later he's in the Sheldrake apartment with larceny on his mind -- and has to duck into a closet when the lady of the house makes an unexpected entrance. Unfortunately he's still there when an unseen assailant does Mrs. Sheldrake in . . . and then vanishes with the jewels.
Bernie's got to come out of the closet some time. But when he does, he'll be facing a rap for a murder he didn't commit -- and for a burglary he certainly attempted -- unless he can hunt down the killer who left him hanging.
Nash culls reminiscences from long-term girlfriends, starlets like Ann-Margret and Cybill Shepherd, and assorted strippers, showgirls and groupies for this gossipy, besotted biography of rock's original sex god. They attest to the allure that had females lining up for access to the young Elvis's bed: devastating looks, pelvic gyrations and a bad-boy sneer combined with a romantic soul, sublime kissing technique and a courtliness that lulled parents into handing over their underage daughters. (He was attracted to 14-year-old brunettes, Nash argues, like future wife Priscilla.) And there's the indefinable magnetism i.e., celebrity that kept them coming through the drugs and debauchery, the bizarre monologues and random gunplay, the impotence and incontinence and vomit and bloat of the King's declining years. Nash's mix of breathless melodrama ("his voice was soft and sensuous, and he had a mischievous grin on his face, and he was looking straight at her") with rote psychoanalysis ("Elvis could never really let go of Gladys") often reads like a fan magazine. Her shallow but vivid portrait nonetheless manages to evoke much of what made Elvis so enthralling.