The Enigmatologist: Ben Adams
Many people were enamored with the sound and songs of Elvis Aaron Presley from the first time he took center stage. His performances were unique, his sound was different and he became more than just an icon to the public but a symbol of change in the music business. Throughout his career many found him mysterious, some thought that he might have unusual powers and others just wanted to be like him or him. Imagine hundreds of people lining up to see if they could try out as his body double and stand on stage pretending to be Elvis and living an unusual dream. This novel centers on a single photograph that someone took thinking she spotted Elvis in the present and hoping it was authentic and that the King as he was referred to was alive.
John Abernathy is in his twenties and living a life that is really not what he wants. Enigmatology is the study and design of puzzles, primarily in his case crosswords. He loves creating them, adding a theme and then placing the clues for those trying to complete the puzzle hoping that they will be able to fill in each square. But, John at the present time is working as a private investigator and truly dislikes his job. Wanting to quit and find something more lucrative to do he is approached by the editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer to go to Las Vegas, New Mexico to find the person who took a photo of Elvis Presley who died 35 years ago or did he? Authenticity is what they want and John decides this would be more interesting then taking pictures of husbands and wives cheating on each other. But, this book is not just about John and his desire to become more than just a snoop. As he enters the world of Mrs. Morris and sees the Elvis museum she created in her home he begins to wonder just what he has gotten himself into especially since she has other thoughts in mind. Checking out her home he cannot believe her or what he sees and she presents him with the photograph and hopes that he finds it to be authentic. But, this is just the first step in a long line of situations that John will encounter as he goes to the home of the person in the picture who turns out to be an Elvis impersonator. Al Leadbelly is his name and when John enters his trailer what he sees is total carnage and it appears that he is dead along with the first person the Inquirer sent to investigate who also wound up dead. There is much more to this plot as John is being stalked by Air Force Colonel, Alvin Hollister for other reasons as well as hoping he will lead him to the information Leadbelly had regarding Elvis’s death. This leads John to reading his great-great-great-grandfather’s journal, which interlocks his past with Elvis, how Elvis was summoned to work for the Air Force and deal with aliens and how this links back to Mary Todd Lincoln. Imagine shape-shifting aliens, imagine being told that you are an alien and have the capability to shape-shift, live hundreds of years and be able to telepathically communicate with other people. John finds out the Leadbelly staged his death, burned down his home, took off and helped him escape hoping that Hollister would not find him.
Meet Professor Gentry who has a definite link to Elvis and who has written a book on the King so they think. Told that he was part of Elvis’s security they soon learn that he was his dog walker and as his dog walker he got some perks. The National Inquirer seeks to publish articles that often expose the darker side of someone’s life and as long as they can get away with it the truth can be stretched and fabricated to suit their needs. John is working for them or so he thinks until he finally uncovers what Hollister has been doing, just who Rex Grant really is and the fact that his life is in danger.
John might love to do crosswords but meeting Rosa just might change his direction but why does she fall for him and what does this have to do with his past? Who is Louisa and why is she central to John finding where he truly belongs? How can those that are gone come to you in the present and change the course of your life? Just who was Grant really and why was he involved? How does he trick John into thinking he really worked for the Inquirer hoping to learn if the photo was real?
There are scenes in this book that are quite hilarious as you watch Mrs. Morris try to make time with John as well as John trying to get away from her. Other scenes are quite unique as he deals with Hollister, tries to escape his hold and then uses his intelligence and newfound powers to get away from him. Elvis was hired to find aliens and in doing so supposedly hired body doubles to do his shows, stand in for him during interviews and deal with the media. No one seemed to notice the difference and Leadbelly was the most authentic of all of them. Professor Gentry contradicted everything that John learned about his family history, how the Abernathy’s migrated to Denver looking for a new life, how his great great great grandfather’s fate as the author relates became a parable for making sure the stove was turned off, not wanting to love the family fortune in a fire. He must have realized that Elvis had a connection to the government and was secretly investigating aliens.
Elvis Presley rose to fame in the 1950’s and although this is a fiction you begin to wonder if any of it is true. On the radio, the silver screen and still one of the hottest names in music history Elvis lives on. At the age of 42 he passed away on August 16, 1977 of heart failure due to his misuse of drugs. Elvis might be gone but some think that he is more than just a human being that lived. Elvis was hooked on the study of the Bible, numerology and mystical religion. He believed in life after death and he also thought he had the powers of psychic healing by placing his hands on a person. So, believing in reincarnation maybe one of these Elvis sightings and impersonators might really be him or maybe not. Within this novel there are many Elvis sightings, many Elvis impersonators where John’s newfound family lives. Take a trip back in time and join John, Sheriff Masters and Leadbelly and find out if the photo was real, whether Elvis is really gone if the many eyewitnesses really did see him at various times or if what they saw were look alikes or impersonators. Read this humorous novel and you decide when you see the players coming together, hear Hollister threaten John and decide after reading the startling ending, meeting Louisa and hearing why she and Archie separated and decide: Is Elvis alive? Is ghost or spirit communicating with others if so how? Or is it that so many of us are not willing to accept that the King?
Some puzzles are difficult to solve with pencil and paper as John learns when he finally comes to grips with his fate, his past and what he hopes is his future. Will he create puzzles in his new realm? Will he decide that being part Alien and part human will bring about experiences he never dreamed of? Where will the spirits lead him? Only author Ben Adams knows John’s fate and that’s if he continues to write his story. If you hear his music in your heart, on the radio or on CD’s then Elvis will live on forever.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine