Kinky Love

You can tell that the title of Kinky Friedman’s ninth novel, “The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover,” hints at an educated author who is also a humorist with a flair for the politically incorrect. The title is a take-off of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and the story was written by the man who fronted a band called the Texas Jewboys and penned country songs like “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed” and “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore” (which is not as offensive a song as you’d think.) Obviously, Kinky Friedman is a man who is not afraid to offend. You have been warned.

Friedman’s novels are the most unconventional in detective fiction. His hero is a carbon copy of himself who becomes an amateur detective after saving a woman’s life during a robbery attempt at an ATM. He lives with his cat in a badly heated warehouse loft on 199B Vandam St., New York City, and surrounds himself with an unconventional set of friends like journalist Michael McGovern, who has both a drink and a chicken dish named for him, Ratso, who sometimes wears a coonskin cap complete with head and Rambam, a mercenary “wanted in states whose names begin with an I.”

They’re an eccentric group of friends, so when McGovern says he’s seeing little green men and receives threatening phone calls from an old friend named Leaning Jesus, it’s understandable why Friedman wants to avoid him, especially since he has been hired by a beautiful woman to find her missing husband. The case becomes troublesome after Friedman is caught in a narcotics raid in D.C. and a flaming limo in Chicago. His sleuthing uncovers a clue that McGovern’s troubles might be connected to the missing husband.

This is not the best book in the series. Friedman seems to be going through the motions here. While first-time readers will be either enchanted or repelled by Friedman’s stream-of-consciousness prose and wicked, frequently scatological wit, regular readers will sense a flagging of energy. Friedman’s plots are usually simple frameworks on which he hangs his jokes, but here it becomes annoying that the story doesn’t begin moving until halfway through the book. Too little is too much this time; this is one love song that strikes a sour note.

If you’re still interesting in sampling Kinky’s work, I would suggest his Hank Williams Jr. tribute “A Case of Lone Star,” or his more recent “Roadkill,” featuring Willie Nelson.