Meanwhile Back at the Ranch (Kinky Friedman Series #15)

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch (Kinky Friedman Series #15)

by Kinky Friedman

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Overview

It's a case of missing kid and missing kitty when Kinky Friedman, private dick extraordinaire and animal lover nonpareil, attempts to find a young, autistic New York boy and a three-legged Texas cat named Lucky, both of whom have disappeared.

Something is rotten in both the states of New York and Texas, and Kinky takes it upon himself to locate not one, but two of God's creatures who have gone astray. Dylan Weinberg is an eleven-year-old boy with a rare form of autism -- a pint-sized stock-market wizard who can only utter one word, "Shnay." He's on a multitude of medications, and one night his father wakes up to find Dylan perched over his bed like some preteen zombie, clutching a pair of scissors and cutting up the sheets. Since that evening, two weeks ago, Dylan has been missing, and the cops have no leads -- and apparently not much interest. That's why, in an absolute last-resort maneuver, the family has called in Kinky to the rescue.

And speaking of rescue, Kinky's second missing person -- make that missing pussy -- case comes courtesy of his Cousin Nancy (no relationship), who, along with Kinky, helped found the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch in Utopia, Texas. Lucky, the three-legged cat -- and unofficial mascot of the ranch -- is gone, the victim of an apparent kittynapping. Cousin Nancy is convinced the feline is either in the hands of some nasty, contentious neighbors or is being sacrificed by a satanic cult. No matter what, she wants Kinky to find Lucky before he becomes coyote chow.

It's an uneven dilemma for Kinky -- stay in town and concentrate on finding a sick, missing child (and concentrate, too, on Julia, said child's beautiful, long-legged sister), or hotfoot off to Texas, to help calm down the frantic Cousin Nancy who's this close to proclaiming Lucky's been abducted by aliens. Kinky puts his trust in his faithful companion, Village Irregular Steve Rambam, to help find the little boy while Kinky hightails it to Utopia, Texas, where Nancy provides him with two witnesses to the alleged crime -- a dim-sighted eighty-year-old lady named Josephine and a frisky canine named Mr. Magoo.

Back in New York, Rambam has no clue where Dylan might be, but he is becoming increasingly sure that Julia is the Jewish answer to his romantic prayers. Kinky warns him to put the wedding plans on hold and track down Hattie Mamajello, Dylan's former nanny, but it's too little too late when Hattie is pushed off a subway platform and killed. The confusion generated by these two disparate cases is enough to drive a dick to drink -- which Kinky is happy to do -- but he's still got a missing kid and a missing kitty on his cigar-stained hands to locate before (a) Rambam whisks Julia off to Vegas for a quickie wedding and (b) Cousin Nancy calls in the FBI, the CIA, and the Mossad to find her Lucky.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, aided and abetted by a few four-legged friends, the mystery of the purloined kitty continues to grow. Then it's back to the wilds of midtown Manhattan and the even wilder wilds of Sche-nectady, New York, where, in their search for the missing boy, Kinky and his two-legged cohort find themselves at an orphanage Dickens would be proud of.

True to Kinky's form, and informed with truth, Meanwhile Back at the Ranch is a wild and woolly (and furry) ride from a true original, and entertainment at its most outrageous.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684864884
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 09/03/2002
Series: Kinky Friedman Series , #15
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.14(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Five

"It's quite understandable," I remarked to the cat the following morning, "for Rambam to be in a snit about Moe. The stakeout was obviously premature ejaculation on my part. How was I to know there was a Brownie troop in there having a slumber party?"

The cat did not reply. She just continued to perch on the kitchen counter like an evil buzzard striving to manufacture a measure of mortification. I didn't let it get me down.

"Rambam does seem to evince a great fascination for the case known as Larry," I rambled on as I lit my first cigar of the morning with a kitchen match.

The cat gazed intently at the flame. For a moment two tiny Statue of Liberty torches burned brightly in her eyes. Then, quick as freedom, they were gone.

"Blessed is the match that kindles the flame," I said, quoting teenage freedom-fighter Hannah Senesch, who was killed by the Nazis just before Hungary was liberated by the Russians, only to be imprisoned again under the iron fist of communism. Quick as freedom.

"I don't know if Rambam is interested in Larry because it's a missing persons case, or because the autistic child only says the word 'shnay,' or because Rambam thinks I'm an autistic child. Of course, I haven't told him anything about Curly. I haven't told anybody anything about Curly."

The cat had wandered off during the early portion of my monologue and now she was busily pursuing a rather large cockroach into the rain room.

"Careful," I shouted. "It could be Franz Kafka."

The cat, of course, did not respond. The blower, however, began ringing almost on cue. I hoisted the blower on the left. The voice on the line was unpleasantly familiar, like a child molester you used to know.

"Hi, Tex," said the voice. "How's the king of crime solvers?"

It was Detective Sergeant Buddy Fox, and if I didn't know better he sounded almost solicitous.

"Busy," I said. "How's my second-favorite public servant?"

"Second favorite?" said Fox. "Who's your first?"

"Everybody else," I said.

He laughed a condescending cop laugh that went on long enough to tell me he wanted something. I hoped I had it in stock. The cupboard was pretty bare these days.

"How can I help you, Officer?" I said.

"Call me Buddy, Tex," he said. "We've been on the same side of the police barricades enough times by now."

"Okay, Buddy. How can I help you?"

"I understand you're working the Weinberg Case? Missing autistic kid?"

"Yes, uh, Buddy. That's right. Mrs. Weinberg called me three days ago. I agreed to see if I could help."

"Yeah, well, Tex, there is a way you could help. You see, we've got over two thousand man-hours into this case. The only useful thing you could do right now is to help us with your friend McGovern."

"McGovern? He already did a big piece on the disappearance of the kid two weeks ago. Why don't you contact him yourself?"

"Because we think you could help get him to do another big piece. Maybe position a picture of the kid on the front page."

"McGovern's no pushover," I said, relighting the cigar. "But I'll see what I can do."

"That's the spirit, Tex."

When I cradled the blower, I did not call McGovern. There'd been big publicity in the papers when the kid first disappeared. Now, two weeks later, if the cops still needed more big publicity it was obvious they were urinating up a rope. Instead of calling McGovern, I cajoled a strong double espresso out of the machine, puffed purposefully on my cigar, and called the Oracle of Brooklyn, Steve Rambam.

"Of course they haven't got shit," he said, when I informed him of good ol' Buddy's overture. "That's why they called you."

"You really know how to make a fellow feel important."

"Look. Fox said they'd put two thousand man-hours into it. That means they've dusted for fingerprints, followed all leads, talked to all witnesses, canvassed the neighborhood, knocked on every door. You've got to concentrate on what they haven't done."

"If I knew what it was, I'd concentrate on it."

"Okay, look. This is very likely a kidnapping. At least you'd better hope it is, because the kid can't feed himself, he can't take care of himself, he probably can't even say his own name. All he can say is 'shnay.' So if he wasn't kidnapped he's probably dead."

"So what do I do?"

"So you interview the family. You get the family to tell you something they might've been too embarrassed to tell the cops. Maybe something they just forgot to mention. Use the personal touch. People say things all the time to perfect strangers that they'd never tell the authorities. Just remember, in my experience with missing kids there's about a fifty percent chance that your clients -- the family -- are somehow involved in the disappearance of the victim."

"Sounds like a plan," I said doubtfully. "I'll put Larry on the front burner and let Moe and Curly circle the bowl for a while."

"Speaking of Moe, Larry, and Curly, they had a fourth brother, you know, who joined the Three Stooges later, but they still called themselves the Three Stooges."

"Tell it to the History Channel."

"His name was Shemp."

"I don't care if his name was Wayne Newton," I said. "These are stupid names for investigations and I think I'm going to drop them -- "

"Big mistake," said Rambam. "They were really heavy guys. Most people today don't know this, but all four of them were Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn. Their real name was the Fine Brothers and they were all general building contractors who specialized in single-family homes."

"Tell it to Donald Trump."

"In the forties, they were as big as the Marx Brothers, also four Jewish guys from New York. It's still a very prestigious thing in Brooklyn to live in a Three Stooges-built home."

"There are places in New York where it's no doubt considered prestigious to live in a refrigerator carton. This information, while providing some fascinating spiritual trivia, is not terribly pertinent to the matter at hand -- "

"I'm telling you why you should keep the names!"

"And I'm telling you that I don't understand why -- if it was really a kidnapping -- there hasn't been a ransom note."

"Look, it's been two weeks. Maybe somebody wanted a kid and went out and took one. When they find out he only says the word 'shnay,' maybe they keep him, maybe they dump him. How the hell do I know?"

"But do you think it's possible that a ransom note might still arrive?"

"By what?" said Rambam. "Pony Express?"

Copyright © 2002 by Kinky Friedman

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Meanwhile Back at the Ranch 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
For private sleuth Kinky Friedman working on more than one case at a time is just too much work. Yet now he is stuck with two distinct investigations in different parts of the country. The first case involves the search for a missing eleven-year-old autistic child, Dylan Weinberg, whose entire vocabulary consists of one expression "shnay". The other case focuses on a vanished cat in Texas.

For Kinky, the case he prefers to work on is the missing boy, not because he is altruistic, but because Dylan¿s sister Julia is a sexy siren. However, he finds himself at Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch in Texas seeking the lost Lucky whose owner Cousin Nancy Parker plans to call in the Feds of several nations if Kinky does not find her purloined feline soon. However, Kinky decides to work both cases with the hope his consoling Julia turns more into her consoling him.

The latest Kinky Friedman novel can be summed up in one word (not shnay, but kinky). The hero remains as irreverent and wild as ever and his support cast, including the irregulars as well as his current clients, enables Kinky to be wackier than ever. Fans of the series will fully relish his dividing time between Manhattan, the Texas ranch, and even Schenectady, as he takes no prisoners in solving his cases.

Harriet Klausner