Steppin’ on a Rainbow
"Alone in his New York loft, the private detective Kinky Friedman, reflects on friendship and why all his friends are out of town. With time on his hands and feeling a little melancholy his mind turns to Stephanie DuPont - very hot but pretty much resistant to all his advances. The phone rings and Kinky's old contact Hoover from Honolulu is on the blower to report that Kinky's great friend Mike McGovern has disappeared while in the process of researching and writing his cookbook Eat, Drink and Be Kinky. He was last seen heading for the beach."
Kinky Friedman has been many things, singer of country band Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, activist, political candidate and brewer but it is his large series of detective novels that I will always love him for.
The majority of his novels feature a fictional version of himself as the main character. An alternate version of Kinky who has given up music to become a private detective with a penchant for Jameson’s whiskey and Sherlock Holmes. He is aided in his cases by the group know as the village irregulars, a group made up of fictional Kinky’s friends, but which blurs the lines between fact and fiction as many of the irregulars are based on several of Kinky’s real life friends.
The books have a brilliant straight forward style and it’s always good to see Kinky appear to stumble blindly through the cases before dealing a Columbo-esque stroke of genius at the end, saving the day.
The real draw of the books for me though, is the dialogue. Kinky is a master with dialogue, producing some of the most naturally flowing speech I’ve ever read as well as being brilliantly funny. His words are hilarious and well worth picking up even if you’re not usually a detective fiction fan.
This novel in particular, was probably my least favourite of the five or so I’ve read but only just. I still loved the book and raced through it. It’s still a great novel, just not the best of his I’ve read.
The story sees Kinky and the irregulars travel to Hawaii on the hunt for fellow irregular Mike McGovern who has disappeared while on a trip to find recipes for his new book, Eat Drink & Be Kinky.
This sets up the traditional detective narrative, clues uncovered, false leads dealt with etc. etc. It’s paint by numbers detective fiction but it’s kind of meant to be, a play on the usual pulp gumshoe and once again Kinky manages to pull it off brilliantly with a great deal of humour and moments of genuine suspense despite the light tone.
This relocation from New York to Hawaii just didn’t grab me as much as the setting of the previous books. It felt a little too much like the cheap “send them all on holiday” narrative that too often suggests a dip in quality in a series.
I said that this was my least favourite Friedman novel but please don’t let that put you off. It’s still hilarious and if you’ve never read a Kinky Friedman novel it’s a great jumping in point. Friedman’s a brilliant writer with a wonderfully funny style. If you’ve never read one before, what are you waiting for?