Kinky Friedman, author, raconteur, country music singer ( They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore ), and private eye is back for his 11th investigative outing in Blast from the Past. In flashback, Kinky explains the series of events that ushered in his gumshoe career, a quirky and convoluted tale involving the usual cast of characters/suspects, as well as fellow country contra Chinga Chavin and Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman, one of the inventors of the sixties. Shortly after having been convicted of complicity in the bombing of a Chicago bank, Abbie Hoffman went underground, where he remained for many years a fugitive from justice, always looking over his shoulder. Some of this time was spent in Kinky Friedman's apartment or so Kinky tells it. Abbie and Kinky bore more than a passing resemblance to one another, so when someone took a potshot at Kinky, the immediate assumption was that Abbie was the intended target. But, as we all know, in a mystery novel nothing is ever quite that simple (particularly in a Kinky Friedman novel).

There is, of course, a girl. To protect the innocent, Kinky chooses to call her Judy. Judy is the proverbial bird with the broken wing; Kinky harbors no illusions, however, Once the wing heals good and strong, they beat you to death with it. To complicate matters, she may be sleeping with Kinky's best friend, and she's convinced she has seen the ghost of her flyer husband, killed in a plane crash in Vietnam.

Perhaps the best part of any Kinky Friedman novel is the barrage of topical one-liners and observations on subjects as varied as love and politics, death and cats. On the hippies and Yippies, The way I saw it, they hadn't been wildly successful. When you start a revolution and you wind up with Nixon, it's time to go back to the drawing board. On a little girl he met outside a Jane Street bakery, She had a spectacularly beautiful American face upon the planes of which intelligence and innocence fought a pitched battle that looked like it might last a lifetime. On his work, I felt particularly Christ-like as I cruised down Christopher Street, my cowboy drag drawing more than the usual number of stares from patrons of a leather bar just across the way. Like Jesus, I was without a home, without a wife, without a job. Also like Jesus, I was a skinny Jew who traveled around the countryside irritating people. It was good work if you could get it. Kinky Friedman is in a class by himself, some might say a world by himself, but from his little green trailer in Texas come some of the weirdest, darkest, and funniest mysteries of the decade.

Bruce Tierney lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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