Armadillos and Old Lace by Kinky Friedman

armadillos-and-old-lace

Read November 2016
Recommended for fans of  Izzy Spellman and Bertie
 ★     ★     ★     1/2

 

It needed more armadillos and less lace.

Aside from that, this is a pleasant and occasionally delightful read. Kinky reminds me of no one so much as a menopausal Izzy Spellman.  He shuttles between NYC to his family’s remote Texas ranch for kids, dragging nostalgia around like a suitcase.

I’d become somewhat ambivalent about performing country music gigs lately and I’d come to realize that anyone who uses the word ‘ambivalent’ probably shouldn’t have been a country singer in the first place.

After a send-off from the NY crew, he and his cat head to Texas. Plans to relax at the ranch and resume his job of hummingbird feeder-filler and laundry lackey are derailed by the spitfire justice of the peace, Pat Knox, who is convinced there is a serial killer bumping off little old ladies. Kinky thinks Pat is crazy as a betsy-bug and tries to avoid investigating, as his track record seems to have been problematic.

“Over the past few years I’d tried my fine Hebrew hand as an amateur detective in the city, resulting in both the criminals and the policemen not being my friends. I was an equal opportunity offender.”

It’s true; between his sideways humor and ever-present cigar, Kinky does have a habit of offending, even when he is kind enough to leave his cigar outside the library. But when some preliminary research gives him unique insight, he feels he has a duty to investigate.

The best part about this story isn’t the mystery; its the route you take getting there. In a strange way, Kinky reminds me of Bertie Wooster, perhaps because he is so relentlessly himself as he cultivates obliviousness. Between the conversations with the cat and his car– “the door is ajar“– I find the ol’ nasolabial folds curving upward.

“With the cat gone, there wasn’t even anyone around to talk to. When you have to talk to a cat that isn’t there, you might as well be talking to yourself.” 

That said, the mystery is decent, although it has an obvious red herring. The reader can’t really solve it before Kinky, so at least it avoids the desire to shake the main character into awareness. As the story progresses, more attention shifts to the mystery and less to Kinky’s life at the ranch. The armadillo, ‘Dilly,’ only makes one brief appearance–I would have enjoyed a bit more of Kinky’s shenanigans and maybe one less elderly lady, as the best part is definitely the clever writing along the way that gives rise to more than a few smiles.

I had this one in my personal library for years, attracted by the title and the great cover. I finally read (reread?) in an effort to clean off shelves, but guess I won’t be sending it on to the used book store.

“You’ve never held a real job as long as I’ve known you,” Rambam was saying. “What makes you think you need a vacation?”
“It’s not a vacation,” I said, quoting my sister Marcie. “It’s a lifestyle.”

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About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, Mystery and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Armadillos and Old Lace by Kinky Friedman

  1. Melora says:

    “With the cat gone, there wasn’t even anyone around to talk to. When you have to talk to a cat that isn’t there, you might as well be talking to yourself.”
    This one sounds appealing. You write wonderful reviews that nicely convey the flavor of each book, and I do appreciate that, so, once again, thank you!

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