I have loved just about every Kinky Friedman book I've ever read. For me, Friedman has a unique voice and an off-the-wall sense of humor. Before I opened the cover of Road Kill, I wondered if Kinky would persist in describing things as phlegm-colored. True to form, he used the adjectives "mucouslike" and "phlegmish" ---both on the second page. His use of "Nixon" as a verb for a bodily function is a bit disturbing even for one who had no love for the former president. Then there is Kinky's tenacious use of "stepped on a rainbow" and "gone to Jesus", meaning someone died. It's rather ironic for the former leader of the country music group known as the Texas Jewboys to refer to Jesus so often. But then sometimes I think Kinky is simply incorrigible. I usually find his peculiar use of terminology picturesque, but Road Kill convinced me that Kinky never grew out of that prepubescent bathroom-humor stage.
In Road Kill, Kinky still gives the reader moments of outrageous dialogue that compels one to read out loud to whomever happens to be near. But while I whipped through previous Kinky novels with delight, I kept asking myself why I persevered in reading Road Kill when I wasn't enjoying it.
The story begins when Kinky (who is the book's protagonist as well as the author) is doing what he does best ---smoking a cigar, sipping Jameson, and talking to his cat. He is invited to join Willie Nelson and his entourage on the road. Somewhere between Texas and Buffalo, Kinky observes that Willie doesn't seem to be `himself'. Willie's elderly valet is injured in a shooting and later, one of Willie's crew members is killed. Kinky decides either someone on the tour is out to kill Willie or else an ancient Indian curse has been settled on his old friend.
The reader is about four-fifths of the way through the book before the real culprit (who is cleverly named after an old mystery writer) is even introduced and thereafter, that plot-line ends within twenty pages. The rest of the book seems like so much filler. Road Kill doesn't hold together as a story but seems rather more like a contrived way of getting Kinky's friends into the plot along with Kinky's favorite quotations, anecdotes, and sophomoric remarks. He even digresses into a passage about the size of O.J. Simpson's member. Although it was a mildly amusing aside, the anecdote did nothing to enhance the plot ---merely distracted from it. And although that is the worst example, it is only one of many. There is some inventive banter, but I found myself thinking most of it had been used in previous Kinky capers.
I kept asking myself, even though this is a work of fiction and even though Willie Nelson is one of Kinky's real-life friends, isn't he going to be miffed at the descriptions of him smoking joints the size of a surf board? Aren't the drug-enforcement officials following Willie's tour bus right now to see if they can catch him with a stash? If I were Willie Nelson, I might be on the horn calling my lawyers.
Author Kinky Friedman may have become exactly what his sleuth Kinky Friedman is ---a public nuisance. For me, Road Kill was a profound disappointment, but I guess someone with a bunch of best sellers under his cowboy hat can turn out one piece of Nixon and get away with it.