Armadillos & Old Lace by Kinky Friedman

Armadillos & Old Lace

Kinky Friedman
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"Armadillos and Old Lace" is Kinky's seventh novel and is his first to be set away from New York. Instead, the action takes place at 'home' - in and around Echo Hill Ranch, Texas. This means, of course, that Kinky must solve this mystery without the help of people like Ratso, Rambam and John McGovern - though he has brought the cat along with him. While the cat doesn't voice her opinion on their new home - a green trailer - it's obvious that she isn't impressed. \n \n Kinky has, once again, cast himself as the PI hero and has continued to use family and friends as the book's supporting characters. Echo Hill Ranch was founded by his parents, Tom and Min, in the early 1950s. Min died in 1985, before the book was written - though Tom does appear and is always referred to by his first name. A summer camp is held on the ranch every year, and Kinky's sister, Marcie, appears as one of the camp counsellors. (It was Marcie's idea that Kinky should start writing mystery novels - I will be eternally grateful to her). Frances Kaiser, Kerr County's Sheriff, and Pat Knox, Kerrville's Justice of the Peace, also appear. The green trailer, Kinky's place of residence in this book, is where he wrote several of his early books. It's now (apparently) home to an armadillo, who presumably answers to the name of Dilly. Much use is also made of Dusty, his mother's old talking car. However, further comparisons with David Hasselhoff and KITT just don't stand up.\n \n Though Kinky has returned home for a holiday, Pat Knox has other ideas. She contacts regarding hom the deaths of four old ladies who have died over the previous five months. Although the Sheriff, Frances Kaiser, has found nothing suspicious about any of them, Pat remains convinced they were murdered. She asks Kinky to look over her files and form an opinion - though he initially agrees with the Sheriff. However, his opinion starts to change when a fifth victim turns up - with her lips sewn shut. \n \n This is the best of Kinky's books I've read to date - though, admittedly, I haven't read then all. He still delivers a fast-moving book, with more one-liners than you reasonably hope for, but it also has the benefit of a strong story. In addition, he writes with a strong sense of affection form the camp and the people who have helped out there over the years. His quips may not be to everyone's taste, but this is a book I thoroughly enjoyed.