“Contract with the King,” Paul Pullen, AuthorHouse, USA, 2007, Softcover, 350pp, ISBN-13: 978-143430741-5
Review/by Nigel Patterson/www.elvisinfonet.com
“Over the Mountains
Of the Moon
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied –
“If you seek for Eldorado!”
Contract with the King is the debut novel for Paul Pullen. It is a superb piece of storytelling with finely drawn characters and a strong moral center.
As you read Contract with the King you find emotional challenges and emotional highs and lows, which have personal resonance. At times humorous, at times symbolic, from the opening few pages you know you are in for an entertaining ride.
The key narrative premise, the kidnapping of Elvis Presley, is so well realized that the reader identifies with it, cheers for it, and relishes its outcome. Unlike the kidnapping of Elvis in the 1988 feature film, Heartbreak Hotel, which had a far different purpose, the intent in Contract with the King is undoubtedly one that many fans overtly or subliminally wish they had done while Elvis was still alive!
The author quickly establishes the personalities of the main characters allowing the reader to form his or her own relationship with them. “The Four Musketeers” and their close friend Tara are a diverse group with distinctly different qualities. From Brooks, the introspective writer to Rob, the conquest seeking, party animal; Paul, the sporty romantic; to Tara the nurturer and Dave the aspiring doctor and status seeker, they are individually, and as a group, very likeable and real.
And as the story unfolds we also discover what secrets Elvis’ kidnappers hold and their hidden connections to the King. At the same time, Elvis/Aron faces his own challenges, a misplaced anger and a return to live performance in the company of Mr. Dragon.
While the core plot device centers around the kidnapping of Elvis – done with the best of intentions – there is a strong moral centre and a well crafted sub-plot involving a (developing) love story. Paul Pullen neatly juxtaposes both themes.
The author’s prose is free flowing, making reading of Contract with the King effortless and a joy. It is also vivid and evocative:
“Six hours later he lay half-awake feeling the warmth of the late morning sun while listening to the faint sound of a police siren. The distant siren melted easily into his peaceful dream of dancing dolphins and flying fish, but when his telephone rang…”
In one chapter the author uses an inspired narrative device where Elvis/Aron uses the different stages of Paul’s life cycle to reflect his identification with and changing view of Elvis.
With themes including reconciliation and redemption and a physically novel approach by the kidnappers to keeping Elvis sidetracked from the tortures inherent in withdrawal and ultimate recovery, Contract with the King serves up a highly addictive brand of storytelling.
Verdict: Paul Pullen has written what is one of the best ever Elvis novels. It has an emotional integrity and narrative premise all fans will readily identify with. It is a joy to read!