The Elvis Conspiracy?
Richard H. Grob, Fox Reflections Publishing, USA, 1979, Hardback (d/j), 665 pages, ISBN: 0964935805
Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, May 2007
The essence of The Elvis Conspiracy? is Dick Grob's personal investigation following Elvis' death to discover what exactly happened on August 16, 1977.
It details the events and decisions made on that day and the days following. As part of his investigation, Grob offers us individual portraits of the major players there when Elvis died.
At the heart of The Elvis Conspiracy? is the author's goal to answer a question proposed by Vernon Presley and millions of fans worldwide, "Did Elvis have to die?"
Unraveling the truth can often be a daunting task and Grob's modus operandi serves as a good framework in investigative technique. Whether one agrees with all of his conclusions will be a personal choice.
And while Grob's book may not be perfect, it is certainly a very valuable account of one man's investigation of events around 16 August, 1977.
Part memoir-part investigative report, The Elvis Conspiracy? is one of the more unusual and interesting releases in the Elvis book library.
The Elvis Conspiracy? is impressive for a number of reasons. Apart from its size, weight and not inconsiderable number of pages, the breadth of Grob's research and argument is potent. Like the stifling heat that surrounded the events of 16 August, 1977, Grob has woven a hot tapestry oozing fact, intrigue and mystery.
And while Grob's mix of fact and occasional opinion has been criticised, it does make for spicy reading.
His is an engrossing narrative, where he effortlessly builds drama into his work:
As I raced toward Baptist Hospital at speeds well in excess of 100 miles per hour, none of the above reflections entered my mind....I was mentally running the thousands of different possible scenarios. I was still trying to fathom what might have happened.
Even with the air conditioning pouring out full blast I was already dripping wet with perspiration. Suddenly I felt a sudden and very different cold come over me. It wasn't like the cold one receives from an over productive air conditioning system. This was an eerie unexplainable frostiness.
At about five forty-five that afternoon, Thursday, November 3, 1977, Leach was brought into an interview room. When Leach was arrested, he was advised of his rights and told that we were more interested in the return of the missing items than prosecution. He immediately broke down crying and wanted to talk right then. He was told he should wait until he got to the Police Department where he would be properly interviewed.
A key element of The Elvis Conspiracy? is Grob's investigation of each of the major players around Elvis near the time of his death. Broken into the Interior, Exterior and Fringe Circles, Grob provides a picture of each person from their background to their activities around 16 August 1977. By also providing his personal view on each character, Grob gives added resonance to his argument.
Important to Grob's investigation is a person whose name is very well known in the Elvis world, but a person we really know very little about. I am referring of course to Ginger Alden. Some fans choose to believe she and Elvis were engaged to be married at the time of his death, others espouse the contrary view.
A number of verbatim transcripts from taped recordings made by Grob are intriguing. In particular, the author's telephone conversations with a person code named "Ester" makes riveting reading over their more than 100 pages!
In several chapters focusing on the events of August 16, 1977, Grob uses a chronological timeline to introduce each section. In so doing it gives The Elvis Conspiracy? an official police and legal flavour, an appropriately official air which heightens the readers interest by emphasising the author's step by step, minute by minute, investigative approach. All good mysteries work in a similar way.
With code names, stirring patriotic sentiments and mysterious intrigue The Elvis Conspiracy? takes you behind the scenes in the author's quest to answer his central question.
And believe me, there is much to be gleaned behind the scenes, especially as told by Grob, who, as a trained investigator, was there when it all happened!
When originally released in 1979, The Elvis Conspiracy? was generally well received. However, not everyone holds his book in high regard today.
In Patrick Lacy's recent release, Elvis Decoded, which debunks many of the conspiracy stories which have blossomed around the Elvis name since his death in 1977, Lacy expresses strong criticism of the Grob tome.
Lacy dissects many of Grob's claims and concludes that they are not believable, logically flawed, and based on unprofessional, sloppy and biased investigative work. This is strong condemnation indeed.
Without getting into a 'fact by fact' debate I will simply note that Grob was a seasoned law enforcement professional skilled in investigative techniques, and rightly or wrongly, the investigative process is often circumstantial and influenced by the bias of the investigator.
Opposite: Dick Grob
There is also a quality color photo section in The Elvis Conspiracy? with many visuals taken around Elvis' funeral. This section will be appreciated by many fans.
The Elvis Conspiracy? is Dick Grob's own work. He refused to have a ghost writer involved. Grob has a solid writing style and is adept at building the tension and mystery of events throughout the narrative.
Verdict: Regardless of any structural flaws and bias, The Elvis Conspiracy? is a fascinating and challenging read; one ripe with drama and many intriguing twists and turns.
About the Author: Dick Grob is a former Air Force officer who also served as a law enforcement officer for more than 10 years. He was associated with Elvis for over 10 years. He served as as Elvis' personal bodyguard and Chief of Security on tour. After Elvis' death Grob served as Director of Security at Graceland.
Buy The Elvis Conspiracy?
EIN Note: Copies of The Elvis Conspiracy? often sell for up to $100.00 on eBay so it is refreshing to find copies of the book available at a very reasonable price
Comment on this review
Gary Balaban: I have this book and have read it and think it is one of the better books out there. I think his mis-trust of Ginger and her telephone conversations on the day of Elvis's death is very interesting to read. I think this book is a great read, and if you can find it (I got mine on E-bay) then I would buy it without hesitation and make up your own mind on the subject.
Cathy T: I saw this book years ago at an Elvis fair and I always wondered what it was like. Thanks for your review.
Mandy Turner: I met Dick Grob and he wis a charming man. Not at all like those who continue to suck the Elvis name for all its worth.