The story opens in Paris, July 1971. After lunching with a friend at Le Mazet, Jim Morrison heads to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus for a beer. But he’s barely grabbed a seat at the bar when shooting erupts between his CIA handlers and a KGB kill squad that ends in a harrowing, guns-blazing escape down the Champs-Élysées. It would be two and a half decades before anyone outside a small circle in the CIA knew what happened next.
Morrison, who’s been living a quiet, hermit-like existence in northern Virginia, is awakened by a troubling dream. Too anxious to fall back asleep, he’s downstairs making hot chocolate when he gets an unexpected visit from Elvis Presley. Elvis explains they were part of the Agency’s Rock Star Relocation Program, created after a deep-cover Soviet agent stumbled on the network of world-touring artists used to “mule government secrets.”
Down the road at the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is using an invisible Jimi Hendrix to demonstrate a new technology for the President. He explains the invisibility protocols are most effective on Rastafarians who listen to reggae, play video games, and chain-smoke marijuana. To bridge the invisibility gap and stay ahead of the Russians and Red Chinese, he goads the gullible President into green-lighting a plan to annex the island nation as the fifty-first state.
Spurred by his dream (a shaman directed Morrison to a quest in Las Vegas) and some equally mysterious instructions from Cosmo, Presley’s globe-trotting cat (all his “appearances” are via chat room), they pack Morrison’s limo and head toward DC. There they collect Jimi who, tired of playing the Pentagon’s guinea pig, strolled past security and down Pennsylvania Avenue. Together the trio of presumed-dead rock icons sets off on a cross-country road trip.
“Outside of a dog, this book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.”Groucho M.New York, NY
“Loved this book so much, I read it two times – once for tomorrow and once just for today.”Jim M. Venice Beach, CA
“Are you lonesome tonight? Grab your blue suede shoes and take Mr Mojo Risin out for a night on the town.”Elvis P.Memphis, TN
“Move over rover, and let Scott T. take over. A wickedly funny, full-throttle ride.”Jimi H.Seattle, WA
“I read this book backwards and realized I’m a dead walrus upholstering an ancient Citroën. Goo goo g’joob.”Paul M.Liverpool, England
“Yo, Cuz! Your book’s more fun than Magic Mike XXXL.”Channing T.Hollywood, CA
“A manically inventive tour-de-force, Mr Mojo Risin puts the whack in wacky humor.”Alphonse “Scarface” C.Chicago, IL
“Of all the 14 karat saps. He started out on a caper with a woman and a dog.”Humphrey B.Casablanca
“This book by any other name still left me doubled-up over my doublet laughing.”William S.Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
“Turns out, the report of Jim Morrison’s death was an exaggeration.”Mark T.Hannibal, MO
“A hilarious book from a devout Bokononist in my granfalloon.”Kurt V.Indianapolis, IN
“The perfect read after a bullfight and a frosty pitcher of mojitos.”Ernest H.Havana, Cuba
“I cannot tell a lie. Mr Mojo Risin is the love child of Carl Hiaasen’s wacky cynicism and the subversive whimsy of Tom Robbins.”George W.Mount Vernon, VA
“This story’s a stoner flashback as revealing as Deep Throat.”Richard Milhous N.Yorba Linda, CA
“Mr Mojo Risin is a how-to book for the deep-state conspiracy.”Donnie “Little Hands” T.Washington, DC
When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs realizes Jimi, the only completely successful test subject in the Pentagon’s invisibility program, has “disappeared,” he sends SEAL Team 13 – a unit organized to strike terror not with the robotic efficiency of existing special ops units but as the modern military equivalent of Viking berserkers. Their orders: bring back Hendrix at any cost.
Haunted by childhood ghosts during the morning’s drive through New Mexico, Morrison and company roll into Vegas, looking for a place to rest. Belching great, billowy clouds of blue-black smoke, the limo rolls to a dead stop in front of the Chapel d’Love, a kitschy wedding mill off the Vegas Strip. When Morrison knocks on the door, hoping to borrow a phone, he discovers they’re expected. A letter delivered Special D arrived that morning from Cosmo.
In Las Vegas, the hunt for Morrison, Elvis, and Jimi is joined by a veteran FBI agent obsessed with making a career-defining arrest, a ruthless Mafia hitman haunted by a terrible secret, and a seductive Yakuza assassin in town with a few days to kill.
With the help of a Jamaican steel-drum band and their mammoth, albino front man, a geriatric RV club, and a militia of mini Elvis impersonators, Morrison, Elvis and Jimi have to find a way to monkey wrench the Pentagon’s plan and save Jamaica.
Paris, July, 1971
The agent he hadn’t met jerked his chin toward the club. “Two Russians are looking for you inside,” he said. “And two more staked out your place on Rue Beautreillis.”
Not immediately grasping the seriousness of the situation, Morrison was wondering how he was going to get into his apartment to pack when two figures appeared at the opposite end of the alley. Backlit by a streetlight, he couldn’t see their faces clearly. They hesitated, apparently recognizing him. When the Russians drew their guns, all hell broke loose. The Americans fired first, hitting the stockier agent twice in the chest. Lurching forward, he stumbled headfirst into a stack of produce crates.
“We’re outta here now!” the taller spook shouted and they ran down the alley toward the street. As they turned the corner onto Rue Mazarine, he stopped and using the building’s brick wall for cover, pinned the surviving Russian down long enough for Morrison and the other agent to scramble into a dark sedan. As soon as they were inside, he sprinted after them and dove headfirst through the open window into the back seat.
“Go. Go. Go,” he shouted, and they roared off along the Seine toward the Pont des Invalides. They were barely to Quai Voltaire when gunfire erupted from a chase car.
“Get down!” the driver screamed.
Leaning out the window, the agent behind him fired back. As he slid lower in the seat, Morrison stole a peek in the side view mirror. He glimpsed muzzle flashes and a black Peugeot closing fast. A heartbeat later, the mirror exploded.
The KGB had taken up the chase in earnest.
During the primaries, the eventual Republican nominee, South Carolina Senator Wallace Hartley, promised his administration would fight for the rights of all real Americans and ship any sodomite, wetback, or shanty Irishman to their ancestral homeland if they so much as jaywalked. But he saved his most passionate vitriol for those whose family trees traced their roots to the “Dark Continent.”
At the national convention, Hartley declared it was “high time America elected a president willing to call a spade a spade” and suggested, “seeing how those people like to whine about how their forefathers were brought here against their will, they shouldn’t mind being shipped back the same way.”
For his running mate, he chose Mississippi Senator and cable televangelist Garland Thibodeaux. Their platform included making the Bible the primary public-school textbook, bombing America’s enemies both foreign and domestic back to the Stone Age, and repealing the 13th, 15thand 19thamendments that abolished slavery and granted women the right to vote. Hartley also threw his unbridled support behind Thibodeaux’s efforts to add former Vice President Spiro Agnew to Mount Rushmore.
Hartley proposed building a hundred-foot-high wall from Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington to the West Quoddy Head lighthouse in Lubec, Maine to halt the flow of cheap prescription drugs from Canada. He threatened to station National Guardsmen shoulder-to-shoulder along the border with orders to “shoot first and ask questions never.”
During a campaign speech in tiny Climax, Minnesota, Hartley vowed to create a special task force to prosecute bootleg Viagra smugglers. “It’s the patriotic duty of every American,” he declared, “to pay full price for erections lasting four hours or more.”
Hartley characterized Canadians, scathingly referred to as “Canuckleheads” during his campaign, as a mongrelized race of “Dudley Do-Nothings,” and suggested his opponent’s father, who played club hockey in Boston, was born in Toronto. Proposing sky-high tariffs on maple syrup, he promised an executive order requiring all Canadian bacon sold in the U.S. be labeled “Liberty Bacon.”
The campaign’s anti-Canadian rhetoric was inflamed when an alleged plot to kidnap the Baldwin brothers by a Shania Twain-led terror cell was widely reported by pro-Hartley media outlets.
With his hawkish nose, sunken eyes, and long, asymmetrical face, the Republican candidate looked like a short, clean-shaven Abraham Lincoln. He wore lifts on the campaign trail and stood on his tiptoes for photographs. Negotiations for a televised debate broke down when the two sides couldn’t agree on the height of the soapbox the diminutive Republican candidate could stand on.
Verduci was a puffed-up, little man susceptible to flattery and McCullough wanted as much plausible deniability as he could muster. Jamaica was looking more and more like a win-win scenario. While there was the possibility, however remote, the dimwitted President and his Chief of Staff would succeed and add a formidable new weapon to the U.S. arsenal, it was much more likely they’d bumble into disaster and create an opening for McCullough in the next presidential election.
Savoring the heady prospect of being the first person elected president unanimously, McCullough strutted across the room and poured three cognacs. McDannold eyed his drink suspiciously. What he really wanted was more Cherry Garcia.
Verduci tossed his down like a tequila shot, his face contorting as if he’d swallowed napalm. Coughing into his fist, he curled up over his knees. McCullough clapped him between the shoulder blades.
McDannold tugged the general’s sleeve. “Jamaicans. Aren’t they the guys with the brightly-colored knit caps?”
“Yes, Mr. President.”
“Maybe we could make the hats part of their uniforms.”
“Right.” Verduci’s face was pinched and red from coughing. “We could call them the Rainbow Berets.”
McCullough bit his lip. “Let’s not get caught up designing uniforms for guys you can’t see.”
“Oh, right.” Verduci stared self-consciously at his shoes.
McCullough poured himself another cognac, sniffing it thoughtfully before raising his glass in a toast. “Here’s to a well-trained, well-equipped, well-disciplined, elite fighting force for truth, justice, and the American way.”
Nobody noticed McCullough neglected to mention “well-medicated” and, under the influence of his lilting Scottish brogue, it sounded like he said elite fighting “farce.” The irony was lost on the president, who hooted and clapped wildly like a six-year-old with a new toy.
Morrison trudged down the hallway. Behind him, Elvis, Digby, and presumably Jimi sat around the living room like there was nothing unusual about a potbellied, sixty-year-old Elvis impersonator in a cleric’s collar chatting with the real Elvis and an invisible Jimi Hendrix.
He found his way to the kitchen, too tired to overthink Digby’s invitation to make himself at home. The room was tidy with tiled counters and white cupboards. Dinner dishes were hand-washed and arranged in a drying rack by the sink. He yanked open the refrigerator and foraged through several shelves of Tupperware and foil-wrapped leftovers. Morrison eyed each one suspiciously before deciding he wasn’t that hungry. Grabbing a carton of orange juice, he checked the expiration. Even though the sell-by date was more than a week away, he sniffed it before pouring himself a glass.
Morrison plunked down on a kitchen chair and rested his chin on the heel of his palm. He’d spent the last twenty-five hundred miles playing the dad in their impromptu family and was happy to have a moment to himself. As he sipped the juice, he wondered how Elvis and Jimi came to be his responsibility.
Part of it was driving. Sitting behind the wheel assumed a particular place in the pecking order. Part of it was his personality, paired with a basic rule he learned in high school physics: nature abhors a vacuum. The rest was like the Three Stooges French Foreign Legion sketch where the Captain asked three volunteers to step forward. When everyone else stepped back, Larry, Moe, and Curly “volunteered.”
That’s what happened to me, Morrison realized. I forgot to step back.
He could hear muffled exchanges, punctuated with laughter from the living room. Sipping his juice, Morrison stared at nothing in particular, feeling like he’d been caught in a misguided practical joke.
The limo had rolled to a dead stop in front of the Chapel d’Love. Morrison knew, without checking, the Chapel’s phone number was the one Cosmo had given Elvis. The hard part was not the weirdness of it all, but feeling like he was the only one not in on the gag. Morrison laughed quietly, realizing he was enjoying whatever this was.