Kinky Friedman has always proven himself to be a master of the offbeat and irreverent, and still manages to pull off a helluva whodunit in the process. Now the Kinkster may have met his match in this superbly crafted, fiendishly clever tale of a murderer who's methodically killing off unsuspecting Manhattan men. Gallingly, all clues point toward Kinky.
Greenwich Village is the setting for Ten Little New Yorkers, a tale of murder and mayhem as only Friedman can warble it and featuring his usual suspects, including Ratso -- Dr. Watson to Kinky's singular Sherlock Holmes. As the clues and bodies pile up and the cops strong-arm Kinky as their man, he has to jump through hoops to find the real killer, all the while maintaining his outrage and, of course, his innocence. The murderer may be someone close to Kinky, which leads to a shocker of an ending that will surely take Kinky devotees completely by surprise.
With a wink and a nod to Dame Agatha (as in Christie), after which all resemblance to those classic mysteries fades, this is one of Friedman's most complex and irresistible page-turners yet. Cunningly tentous issues of life, death, guilt, innocence, love, loss, and the danger of false confessions, this is Kinky Friedman at his wily, suspenseful, and sacrilegious best.
Friedman's comic, semi-autobiographical mystery series apparently comes to an end with this downbeat 18th entry, which, like 2004's The Prisoner of Vandam Street, is suffused with melancholy and loss. Friedman-the-detective is suffering from the disappearance of a close, longtime companion his cat. When he decides to leave New York City for Texas to escape the doldrums, he's tracked down by a regular nemesis from the NYPD, Det. Sgt. Mort Cooperman, after the wallet of a murder victim, possibly the fourth in a series, turns up in Kinky's apartment. Four more murders occur, with clues again pointing to Friedman once he returns to the Big Apple. While the circle of suspects seems to be limited to his closest associates, suspense is lessened by the unlikelihood that a member of his Village Irregulars has suddenly been transformed into a psychopath. The depressing ending may disappoint some fans expecting the series' trademark laugh-out-loud humor stemming from Friedman's uniquely wry and twisted narrative voice. One can only hope that the author will soon apply his considerable gifts for creating colorful characters and amusing situations to a new series.