Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Skinny Dip

by Carl Hiaasen.
I picked this off the top of a pile of books the other day and started leafing through - mostly in an effort to avoid shelving. It turned out to be an enjoyable read.

Chaz Perrone is a biologist employed by the state of Florida to test water for phosphates and other fertilizers in the Everglades. He hates his job and is completely incompetent at it as well. He's also in the pay of Red Hammernut, a big time farmer who is happily pumping his phosphate waste straight into the Everglades. He couldn't care less about the environmental damage he's contributing to. Neither could Chaz. The only thing Chaz seems to care about is satisfying his seemingly endless sexual urges.
Chaz is married to Joey and the story opens with them both on a cruise ship in the Gulf to celebrate their 2nd anniversary. Chaz is convinced (wrongly as it turns out) that Joey has found about his corrupt dealings with Hammernut and so tosses her overboard in order to stop her blabbing.
However, he is so clueless that he thinks the Gulf Stream flows the opposite way and so Joey is not sent out to sea. She is eventually found, clinging to a bale of marijuana, by Mick Stranahan, an former detective living (as caretaker) on a tiny island off the coast.
Joey convinces Mick not to go the police. Instead they decide to mess with Chaz's head. She has no idea why he tried to kill her and is determined to find out.
Other characters include Karl Rolvaag, the detective investigating Joey's apparent death. He has two pet pythons and wants nothing more than to return to Minnesota - he misses the snow. There's Earl Edward O'Toole (Tool), a giant, hairy, gorilla of a man who is hired by Hammernut to babysit Chaz; Ricca, a floozy of and later, another apparent victim of Chaz's, and Hammernut, the corrupt landowner/farmer.

What sets this apart from other crime fiction is the humour. The characters are well written and are very believable people. The story is well constructed and I had to keep reading just to see how Mick and Joey were going to deal with Chaz, to see whether Hammernut would get his come-uppance, to see whether Chaz would be exposed as the murderous fraud he really was, etc. I won't say how it turns out.

I think Hiaasen is an author I could read more of.


Shadow said...

i'm glad you found a treasure amongst that pile....

Julie said...

Haha, this book wasn't in "that" pile - it was just sitting on the desk. It was to avoid "that" pile that I picked it up :)

Shadow said...

...you may be an intermettent blogger. doesn't mean i don't love your blog!

Mary said...

Sounds interesting. This would be my problem when filing books! My "to-read" list would become crazy huge! I'd never get anything done..

Janet said...

Hammernut? What a name!

Julie said...

Thanks Shadow :)

Mary: My "to read" list is miles long. My "work to do" list is even longer. :)

Susan said...

I believe he's the guy who lives in Florida and also writes for the Miami Herald paper.

I finally Googled him and he's looking mighty fine, too.

Julie said...

I think he does come from Florida. He seems to have a strong environmental interest too which is good.