KILL TWO BIRDS & GET STONED
Friedman sends a slumping, unfulfilled novelist off on a wild criminal adventure with a couple of con artists in his latest, an engaging but erratic caper novel that begins when mid-career fiction writer Walter Snow meets the woman of his dreams, Clyde Potts, at a bank in Manhattan. Potts already has a companion, an oddball named Fox Harris who accompanies Clyde on her various criminal ventures, and the pair quickly take advantage of Snow's lust for Potts to convince him to play a role in a smalltime con at a New York bar. Their next escapade takes them to a mental hospital, where they liberate an African-American acquaintance who believes himself to be the king of an African country. The criminal stakes go up when Potts manages to steal Donald Trump's credit card number, and the trio throws a lavish party for the homeless at a New York shelter, but the plotting turns downright bizarre when Potts and Harris sabotage a major coffee cafe after the company that owns the chain evicts the owner of a dive bar called the Unicorn. Friedman's usual off-kilter charm prevails throughout, particularly in the characterization of Snow, a sincere but befuddled writer who uses his lust for Potts to overcome a continuing case of writer's block. Potts and Harris have their endearing moments, but the criminal subplots range from the solidly effective to the over-the-top wacky, particularly the coffee caper, which is designated "Operation Diarrhea" and involves the trio adding a mix of diabolical chemicals to the local brew. Friedman fans will enjoy the antics, but this falls short of top-shelf Kinky. (Apr.)
Forecast:This is Friedman's first stand-alone novel, but it doesn't range far from his tried-and-true shtick. Expect it to appeal primarily to hardcore fans enthusiasts.