Kinky Friedman: an American Original
Kinky Friedman: The Outrageous Crime Novelist
Imagine Raymond Chandler crossed with the anarchic humor of Mark Twain; imagine a wisecracking, cigar chewing, ass kicking ex lead singer of the outrageous country and western band The Texas Jewboys who has evolved into a cat loving sleuth. Then you can roughly conjure up an image of the Kinkster as he is affectionately known by legions of his fans.
After a successful music career writing and playing anarchic sounds and lyrics ( he toured with Dylan) Kinky Friedman burst into the crime scene in 1986 with the brilliant Greenwich Killing time . His books feature a fictionalised version of himself as the eponymous crime busting Gumshoe. The fun of it all is Kinky populates his books with people he knows, often featuring them as cheats, cons and murderers much to their glee. This includes his road manager Dylan Ferrero who forever speaks in rock and roll quotes, his rela- life investigator friend Steven Romom and many of his close friends and acquaintances .
With his non stop one liners and irreverent wit Kinky is a delight to read. The novels are lean and mean and the pace electric.
His Life and Loves
Kinky Friedman was born Richard S.Friedman and was a child chess prodigy, one of the youngest competitors to challenge an american Grandmaster. He lost, but hey, he was only 7. He was given the nick name Kinky due to his curly hair. He went on to form The Texas Jewboys and made some good music. His songs were often satirical and irreverent but challenged a lot of prejudices and always stood up for the downtrodden. There is rib tickling humour in ' Get your biscuits in your oven, Buns in your bed',' and 'Homo Erectus'. Kinky is a satirist and takes the micky out of prejudice and racism. Although his songs may sound offensive if you listen to them without actually listening to them, one only has to get the lyrics to get Kinky's anarchic humour.
In 1986 he decided to hang the guitar up and take up the pen. He now lives in his family ranch in Texas, in a very ascetic trailer, with his pet armadillo Dilly, his small black dog Mr Magoo and two cats. Kinky says there are ten million imaginary horses in this valley who gallop around the trailer in an ever encircling carousel of death. But one could hear the tap..tap.. of his typewriter amidst all the pounding of hooves.
The music worlds loss is the readers gain. Kinky has entertained his cult following. He is a prolific writer, churning out many mysteries, a travelogue on Austin, a book on Texas etiquette, humourous essays and observations. He writes a regular column in Texas Monthly. He has been a guest on Sturday Night Live and is good mates with Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakem, George W Bush and Bill clinton. He has been a guest in White House and ran a colourful, anarchic, rip raorign campaign to be a Governor of Texas in 2006. He lost, but hey it was worth the trip! He raised more money than the Democratic candidate when he went fund raising.
With a passion for Havana cigars ( Monte Cristo #2) a love for life, all we can wish for is for Kinky to live forever and ever, with a fully stocked up humidor and finely oiled typewriter. As with music, his books, politics and his humour, Kinky's own cigars have also garnered rave reviews.
If you haven't read Kinky..you haven't lived life to the fullest.
Kinky Singin' Live
The Criminal World of Kinky
Kinky Friedman the gumshoe, inhabits New York. But not the NY you may know. In Kinky's NY the low lifes lower than ever, the crimes colourful and the gals long legged and green eyed. You can drink yourself stupid at the Monkey's Paw, eat breakfast at Big Wongs in chinatown, have Five-alrm chili at the Lone Star Cafe, Devour a big hairy steak at Derby and get served Matzo Ball Soup at Leo's Carnegie Deli. Kinky eats out a lot, giving him the chance ot stumble upon mysteries and murders.
He lives in a loft at Vandam Street in Greenwich village, with his Sherlock mug full of cigars. Like Holmes he likes a smoke, has a bunch of motley characters called the village irregulars who help him in solving crimes, has a Watson in Ratso, his ever present compnaion with poor hygiene and even poorer ethics. Kinky's Lestrade are Cooperman and Fox and he has some help from Mcgovern , his friend the reporter.
Kinky's Crime novels share the same anarchic spirit of his songs. Crammed with one liners and wisecracks (. ' One day they will make a life out of my movie ', ' Sorry I can't come to the phone right now, I am in the middle of someone' ) the puzzle element is almost secondary to the entertaining read his books are. The twists and turns and the crime busting is a bonus.
Kinky Friedman Bibliography
Kinky Friedman has written 17 series novels ( so far) featuring the eponymous hero, the Gumshoe. Many are available from bookshops and online booksellers. Some are out of print and highly collectible and are available from amazon, Abebooks and E-bay.
He has written a standalone novel, a book on etiquette, his funny reminiscences, his travel book on Austin and other ephemera.
Eponymous Crime Novels
Greenwich Killing Time
A Case of Lone Star
When the Cat's Away
Elvis, Jesus and Coca Cola
Armadillos and Old Lace
God Bless John Wayne
The Love Song of j Edgar Hoover
Blast from the Past
The Mile High Club
Steppin' on a Rainbow
Meanwhile Back at the Ranch
The Prisoner of Vandam Street
Ten Little New Yorkers
A Christmas Pig: a Very Kinky Christmas
Greenwich Killing time (1986)
Kinkys first novel, the birth of our eponymous sleuth, where you first get a look at the loft, the cat, the puppet head, the Sherlock Holmes mug, the two red telephones he keeps to his left and right so ' it enhances the importance of his calls'. The scene of the crime is Greenwich village and the corpse is found holding eleven pink roses. The suspects are as strange as they come and the Kinkster in his full wisecracking form.
A Case of Lone Star (1987)
This tale revolves around the legendary Lone-Star cafe, ' a raucous little corner of Texas right in the heart of Manhattan';where many a great country-music star stops for a gig. A reluctant Kinky is drawn into a deepening web of intrigue after Larry Barkins of the Barkin Brothers is found dead in his dressing room, his head bashed in with his own guitar. When a strange piece of mail addressed to Barkin finds its way to 199B Vandam Street, Kinky is hot on trail of the killer who leaves clues from Hank Williams' songs! Vintage Kinky.
When the Cat's Away (1988)
Winnie Katz 's lesbian dance class ( 'like God. Makind never saw it, but you always knew it was there..') often leaves Kinky wondering what the hell is going on up there. The rhythmic thudding of the loft above Kinky's flat makes him muse about modern dance. But not for long.
A stolen feline from the Madison Square Gardens' cat show lures Kinky into a trail of murders, drug rings and gang wars. With wisecracks a-plenty and Monte Cristo #2 in his breath, Kinky wonders if it was just cats who had nine lives, or whether he was in with a chance.
Frequent Flyer (1989)
Mysteriously summoned to a friend's funeral, Kinky couldn't help noticing that the body belonged to a complete stranger. It sets him on the trail of a missing person, a nazi conspiracy, and an elusive white tiger with blue eyes. But Kinky is being trailed too by nasty Third Reich types who aren't known for giving second chances... This is very funny stuff and Kinky is at his peak of sarcasm and wit.
Musical Chairs (1991)
It is the chill ridden last week of December and the Legendary Texas Jewboys meet with deadly accidents one by one. When an ex- ~Texas Jewboy comes to crash in Kinky's loft- mirth turns ot mayhem as the former gets brutally murdered in the shower and the Kinsketr's loft gets pumped full of lethal gas..a dismembered doll turns up in the mail and the game is afoot. The hunter becomes the hunted as the Kinkster and the killer play a deadly came of Katz and Ratso. All the regulars turn up for musical chairs and so should you.
Elvis, Jesus and Coca Cola (1993)
The bard of Texas, the man with the cigar, the man in the green trailer, is back with murder and mayhem in this devilishly convoluted tale about Elvis impersonators. Tom Baker dies of a drug overdose but Kinky smells foul play. A documentary that Baker was making about Elvis impersonators has disappeared along with the only person ever ot have seen that film, making Kinky wonder about mysterious forces in play.
Is Kinky up to facing the forces in the shadows? Is Kinky going face to face with the King himself? 'Raymond Chandler high on prohibited substances' -- says Daily Telegraph.
Buy Kinky, Read Kinky, Live Kinky
Armadillos and Old Lace (1994)
When the Kinkster decides to take a break from the big city mayhem , he goes to the Lone Star State to play with his pet armadillo. But trouble arrives when his Friend Judge Knox drops by Kinky's ranch. A little matter of four little old ladies."Little old ladies..?" says Kinky " Do they want me to join their quilting bee?" "No" says the Judge, "They're dead..." Thus he gets drawn into the web with only his wiseass humor his weapon.But as we all know... Kinky's pun is mightier than his sword. Eat your heart out Philp Marlowe, the Kinkster is in town.
God Bless John Wayne (1995)
A Friend in need is a friend indeed, so Kinky accepts a deceptively simple assigment of tracking Ratso's true birth mother.But Ratso's ancestry is as colorful and mystifying as his dress sense. Soon they are embroiled in a plot more convoluted than smoke trail drifting from Kinky's montecristo.The trail shifts from Manhattan to Miami and back.It climaxes in the posh NY suburb of Chappaqua where Kinky solves the case & rights the wrongs ably helped by McGovern and Ratso .There are stiffs and a plot to kill Ratso and the secret of his ( shudder!) ancestry. Wisdom aplenty and wit hits the fan constantly.unmissable.
The Love Song of J Edgar Hoover (1996)
When long time friend and co-conspirator Michaels McGovern complains of being watched by mysterious me and getting threatening phone calls from a dead gangster called Leaning Jesus. He then disappears altogether with Pretty Polly. The Kinkster can only come to one conclusion - not that McGovern has finally succumbed to the effects of supping indeterminate quantities of whisky- but the only thing that can link these seemingly odd occurences......The Feds! So Kinky is deep in trouble, getting shot, locked in a burning limo...did they seriously think they can subdue Kinky with smoke inhalation hazards..
The Kinkster is the only man we know who, if he is drowning, will come up for a smoke!
Sold American Live
Accolades for Kinky...
'The Kinkster goes from strength to strength.. and we go with him. He is the Pied Piper of Texas and we are the wee children who follow his smoking cigar trail......The Kinkster's pun is mightier than his sword!' Mohan Kumar
'The best whodunnit writer to come along since Dashiel Whats-his-name.' Willie Nelson
'Raymond chandler must be laughing in his grave as the myth of the Private Investigator as white knight is dirtied with loving squalor by the man with the stetson and the smelly cigar' Time Out
'The worlds funniest, bawdiest and most politically incorrect country music singer turned mystery writer...The humour gleams as brightly as Kinky's brontosaurus foreskin cowboy boots.' New York Times Book Review
'The Sam spade of South Texas. Only soft boiled.And hipper.And funnier.' Mail on Sunday
The Kinky Bibliography and a selection of his wit and wisdom will continue in #2 More Kinky Friedman... coming soon!
Copyright © Mohan Kumar 2010