It's probably safe to say that developers, lobbyists and big game
hunters are unlikely to find SICK PUPPY as enjoyable as say, well,
anyone else. Unless, of course, they have a highly developed sense
of self esteem and can take a joke aimed squarely at their
collective jugulars. This goes, too, for elected officials.
While these arch villains are often the object of Carl Hiaasen's
particular brand of gonzo mystery zingers, he has introduced us to
what I believe is his alter-ego in the hero of his latest South
Florida caper --- a black Labrador Retriever named Boodle. Boodle
is kidnapped and held for an unusual ransom, and Hiaasen (or
Boodle) pulls us on a romp through the pages with the same joy and
reckless abandon as if we were on the other end the leash.
When we interviewed Hiaasen for his last book, TEAM RODENT, he
promised us that Skink would make a return. Can you picture Skink
as a mentor? Would you choose him to guide your wayward child in
the ways of the world? For all the Skink fans out there, never fear
that the seriously unbalanced former Florida governor who stars in
several prior novels will fade away. The one-eyed, road kill chef
is back and as strange as ever, but he's met his match in a young
man with an anger management problem named Twilly Spree.
We have in Twilly not only a protege honing his skills to wreak
havoc on the richly deserving but, because he fell into a few
million dollars in an inheritance, someone with more means than the
wily old swamp monster. If Hiaasen brings Twilly on as the new
contender for arch antihero, he will go down in the mad, mad, mad,
mad genre of caper writing as one of its champions.
Hiaasen is best known for serving up heaping helpings of just
desserts. His bad guys are the baddest, and his good guys are
anything but the Dudley Dorights of popular fiction. How does
Hiaasen come up with his new means of doling out justice to the
terminally greedy? Just when you think, "they'll never get out of
this mess," he devises a plan, and they're off and running.
Oh, and here's fair warning: If you throw a beer can out of a car
window in Florida, be prepared to pay a lot more than a local
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 23, 2011