`Back at the Ranch,' Kinky rounds up some zaniness
What, you were expecting Dickens? C'mon, it's the return of the Kinkster!
Kinky Friedman goes on to note in "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch" that it had been a long time since Neil Sedaka had a big hit. (And, with typical irreverence, that eventually "the sun would come out and shine on John Denver's shoulder, figuratively speaking, of course, since John Denver's shoulder was currently worm bait.")
But fortunately for anyone who likes their mysteries with a healthy dollop of attitude, we can't say the same for Kinky. "Ranch" is the 15th book in a series that has surely propelled the country-western-singer-turned-novelist beyond the cult status he enjoyed as head of the Texas Jewboys in the 1970s or with his first foray into books, 1986's "Greenwich Killing Time." After all, as the New York Times noted last month, Kinky's comprising much of the celebrity quotient these days on the slumber-party list in the Bush White House.
Like its predecessors, "Ranch" features many characters based on real-life friends who should be familiar to the Kinkster's readers. Above all, there's Detective Kinky, operating out of a home-office loft in Greenwich Village, just like Real-Life Kinky used to do before taking up residence in a little green trailer out in the Hill Country. There's also half-cop, half-rabbi Rambam, based on real-life Brooklyn-based investigator and lecturer Steven Rambam.
This time around, much of the setting should be familiar to Austinites as well. Kinky (the detective) takes a hiatus from searching in New York for a missing autistic boy whose entire vocabulary is "shnay" to search in Texas for a missing three-legged cat. Lucky disappeared from the Utopia Rescue Ranch, which really does exist, albeit in Medina these days.
And just like in real life, amid all the one-liners and equal-opportunity attempts at outrageousness, there's a warmer side of Kinky -- the one devoted to saving the dogs, the cats and even the pot-bellied pigs who live at the rescue ranch until they're adopted by loving homes. (Check out www.utopiarescue.com for more real-life info.)
"In this wicked, wonderful, war-torn world we each have only so much time allotted to us, and it's important that we put our services to some higher use than day trading or trading our status as participants in life to that of observers of life by watching other human idiots live, love, and die on the flat, fatuous surface of our television screens," Kinky (the detective) muses as his plane touches down in San Antonio.
Ah, but just when you think Kinky's gone all sentimental, he's promptly met by Dylan Ferrero, who speaks only in rock lyrics (as befits Dylan Ferrero, who in real life was the road manager for the Texas Jewboys). After Lucky's trail grows cold, it's back to the craziness of New York, where he and Rambam hunt for Hattie Mamajello, the autistic boy's nanny -- a search snarled by Rambam's sudden googly eyes for the missing boy's older and very fetching sister.
By now, it shouldn't surprise you that Kinky's outrageous, or that plot takes a back seat to his adventures. But we all need someone to be the most outrageous one at the party. So if you're easily offended, gird yourself . . . but above all, prepare to be entertained.