Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen

As a basically naive person, the books of Carl Hiaasen completely opened up a whole new world for me - the wheeling and dealing of politicians, the under-the-table agreements of powerful entities, and the manipulation of facts for personal gain. Really, I had no idea. The fact that he makes it entertaining to boot is a testament to his storytelling abilities and bizarre sense of satirical humor.

In this particular book, our hero, Twilly Spree, pursues a litterbug he spots on the highway, with no idea that the man he is terrorizing is a well-connected but clueless lobbyist who will lead him into a complicated game involving the governor of Florida, the potential destruction of a secluded island paradise, and the love of a good woman and her dog. As Twilly continues to creatively teach the man, Palmer Stoat, a lesson (don't be a pig,) he finds himself becoming the target of a hitman himself. Where else can you find a book with impeccably groomed Barbie dolls, a prostitute who will only sleep with registered Republicans and a hermit ex-governor with nothing to lose?

Carl Hiaasen has a gift for creating memorable characters - and this book is no exception. His bad guys are typically super-sleazy, but with character quirks that gives them a vulnerability not usually associated with unscrupulous businessmen, crooked politicians, or unethical environmentalists. His good guys are equally outrageous, yet still totally lovable much of the time. Hiaasen's stories take place in his native Florida, where his love for the land shines through and he gets his point across by channeling his anger into his wit and humor. While his books are enjoyable to read, they are not for the sqeamish - many characters perish in rather unorthodox ways, there is usually a serious level of sexuality in his adult fiction novels, as well as plenty of salty language throughout the book - take a chance and give him a try! To learn more about this author, visit his website:

If you like Carl Hiaasen's books, here are a few others that may appeal to you:

Hammerhead Ranch Motel by Tim Dorsey. Follow the hijinks of Serge Storms, a lover of all things Florida and a serial killer who has stopped taking his medication. He wants "his" money back and will stop at nothing to get it in this deranged but funny tale.

Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard. U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco is dressed to the nines when she stops at a Florida prison to serve a summons, never expecting that she will soon be in the middle of a prison break and locked in the trunk of her own car by inmate Jack Foley. Both escape unharmed, but are destined to meet up again...

Bahamarama by Bob Morris. Zack Chasteen is a former Miami Dolphins football player turned palm tree grower who has spent time in prison for a crime which he did not commit. He makes a beeline for the Bahamas, looking to meet up with his lady friend, as well as seek out revenge on the men who put him in prison.

Whale Season by N.M. Kelby. More Florida weirdness, featuring a poker-playing RV salesman, a strip club owner, and a serial killer who thinks he is Jesus Christ. Dark, demented, but also lots of fun!

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