Alfred Hitchcock's classic film Rear Window gets an affectionate kick in the butt in this homage from master crime writer, philosopher, and equal-opportunity offender Kinky Friedman.
It's a case of malaria versus murder when private dick extraordinaire Kinky Friedman comes down with a tropical disease, in the jungle known as New York City, and is confined to his loft on Vandam Street in lower Manhattan, a prisoner in his own home with only his cat and black puppet head as company (neither of whom are great conversationalists).
With little to do but stare out the window in between bedridden bouts of fever and hallucinations, Kinky calls on assistance from the stalwart Village Irregulars, who proceed to dish out their own uniquely skewed brand of tea and sympathy, turning the loft into a virtual Mardi Gras of confusion and drunken debauchery.
Suffering almost as much from company overload as from his fever, Kinky welcomes a rare moment of calm as he finds himself once again alone in his loft. Resuming his position at the kitchen window, he spots a pretty young woman in an apartment across the street. What he hopes might be titillating turns terrifying, however, as a man joins the woman and proceeds to attack her. Sure that he's witnessed a crime, Kinky calls in the cops, but, upon investigating his claim, they can find neither a victim nor an apartment across the street. In addition, no one else saw or heard anything that would ndicate a crime had taken place. Was it foul play or merely a fevered dream?
Convinced that their friend is about to slip off into the land of eternal slumber, the Village Irregulars increase their vigilance and in the process raise the Kinkster's irritability level to an all-time high. Not to be deterred, however, Kinky sticks to his story and is rewarded when a few days later he sees the man in the apartment again, but this time with a gun.
Outrageous, audacious, and ingeniously crafted, The Prisoner of Vandam Street is vintage Kinky: irreverent, clever, and full of the hardened philosophy and mordant wit that has earned him a vast and devoted readership. But what more would you expect from the writer The New York Times has called "The world's funniest, bawdiest, and most politically incorrect country music singer turned mystery writer"?
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Kinky Friedman lives in a little green trailer somewhere in the hills of Texas. He has five dogs, one armadillo, and one Smith-Corona typewriter. By the time you are reading this, Mr. Friedman may either be celebrating becoming the next governor of Texas or he may have retired in a petulant snit.From Publishers Weekly:
The irrepressible, hysterically funny Friedman sounds an uncharacteristic melancholy note in his 15th novel featuring a quasi-fictional version of the former country-western singer himself as an amateur detective. While his earlier books (Greenwich Killing Time, etc.) contained serious insights into human nature, they were mostly notable for Friedman's engaging personaâ€"cynical, humorous, free-associating and often politically incorrect. Here Friedman is hospitalized with malaria, suffering the bumbling efforts of his motley Village Irregulars to nurse him back to health. His delirium and disorientation lead him to doubt his senses when a chance glance out his window shows a woman being physically abused in an adjacent apartment on a floor that later proves to contain no apartments, in an obvious nod to Hitchcock's Rear Window. Fortunately, one of his many friends, a private investigator, gives him the benefit of the doubt and looks into the case. Still, Friedman must play a passive role, and feels even more out of touch when his PI friend does his preliminary digging on the Internet. While the punchy, acerbic writing will be familiar and pleasurable to Friedman fans, this remains an atypical effort that hopefully will be followed by a return to a less downbeat plot.
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