Get Kinky

The friends of Kinky Friedman gathered recently over the release of his latest mystery, and the air was positively green with screaming over it.

“Like P.J. O’Rourke on testosterone,” cheered Robert Stack, noted literary critic and host of “Unsolved Mysteries.” “A true American original,” mused Steve Allen, modern Renaissance man.

“A real beauty mark of sinful excess,” says James Crumley, author of “The Last Good Kiss.”

Lord knows mystery novels are not meant to be the all-day suckers of literature, but the scorch marks on my eyelids remain mute evidence that there was less here than met the eye.

The concept behind this series is simple. Kinky Friedman, in reality a smart-assed country singer who writes songs like “They Don’t Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns into Bed,” plays amateur detective in New York City.

As an added conceit, his friends appear in the books, sometimes as Watsons, sometimes as victims and suspects.

There is some justification for Crumley’s “sinful excess” assertion. Although of an age old enough to know better and too old to care, Friedman has the sense of humor sure to tickle the hearts of 13-year-old boys everywhere. Between the bodies are sprinkled fart jokes, crap jokes, Jesus jokes, Jewish jokes, Texas jokes, booger jokes and more fart jokes.

In addition, he drops in stories which don’t mean anything to the plot and rules of life with great portentousness. His plots meander about the ranch like herds of sheep. Sometimes, he wraps it up well enough to forgive and badly enough to induce hurling (the book, not your lunch, unless you don’t like dirty jokes).

This time, Friedman heads to Texas for the summer, to the combination ranch and summer camp which his family has been tending for decades. But before he can settle into his trailer and take off his boots, the justice of the peace asks him to look into the deaths of six old ladies. She thinks a serial killer is at work; the county sheriff doesn’t. And Kinky is in the middle.

So while he investigates the deaths, we also get heart-warming scenes around the campfire, where Kinky campfire songs like

Ol’ Ben Lucas
Had a lot of mucus
Comin’ right out of his nose
 

Along the way, Kinky talks about relatives who had gone to seed in nursing homes and his experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Borneo, sometimes dipping into lines like: “I was a hunter who traced the wide open spaces between the ears of a madman, just barely within shouting distance of reality.”

This time, Friedman keeps his mind on the plot and wraps it up not only satisfactorily, but adds a coda capable of inducing heartbreak.

If you have a taste for sick humor, sacrilegious talk and bawdy observations, then the Kinkster comes highly recommended.