Gene Lyons
October 17, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Keeping any series of detective novels from going stale requires great ingenuity. Preventing a series that began as a satire of the genre from lapsing into self-imitation must be a real bitch — particularly when the hero’s name is the same as the author’s. Alas, Road Kill reads like a parody of a parody. The hero, like the author the semi-retired lead singer of a band called the Texas Jewboys, has pretty much degenerated into a collection of familiar tics. And plot has never been a big part of the Friedman mystique. Here the Kinkster’s efforts to foil a scheme to murder Willie Nelson serve as the thinnest of pretexts for a couple of hundred pages of name-dropping, in-jokes, and self-congratulation. C

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