Review

Nature Girl

by Carl Hiaasen



Carl Hiaasen, who pens a weekly column for The Miami Herald,
certainly follows the adage "Write what you know." While he
occasionally covers nationally significant events, Hiaasen
generally confines his writings to the fertile territory that is
the state of Florida. Readers of Hiaasen's columns know well his
passions and viewpoints. His sarcastic commentaries often take aim
at such topics as the medical profession, land developers, crooked
politicians, gun aficionados, tobacco companies, madcap theme parks
and the destruction of Florida's environment. But weekly newspaper
pieces are not the end of Hiaasen's caustic observations --- they
are only the beginning. In 10 novels written over a span of 20
years, Hiaasen has expanded upon all of these topics in hilarious
tales that poke fun at every aspect of life in the Sunshine
State.

NATURE GIRL is Hiaasen's 11th novel. While he skewers many familiar
targets, there are a few new objects of ridicule for his skillful
and entertaining writing. Hiaasen's Florida romps all share common
traits: quirky plots, countless screwball characters and an
irreverent style that creates laughter on every page. The prime
target for his ire in NATURE GIRL is Boyd Shreave, a telemarketer
pitching Florida real estate who places a sales call to Honey
Santana, thereby setting in motion a chain of events familiar to
any Hiaasen aficionado. Anyone who has experienced the pain of a
telemarketing call interrupting a quiet and peaceful evening at
home can identify with Santana's plot of revenge. She turns the
tables on Shreave and lures the unsuspecting pitchman to Florida
for a phony tour of nonexistent Florida property.

NATURE GIRL begins with an event not uncommon in a Hiaasen novel:
someone dies and someone else tries to dispose of the body. Sammy
Tigertail, a fugitive half-breed Seminole, takes a tourist out on
his airboat. The tourist is frightened by a harmless water snake
and dies of an apparent heart attack. Panic-stricken, Sammy decides
to ditch the body somewhere in the Ten Thousand Islands area of
Southeast Florida. The cast of characters, as often occurs in a
Hiaasen novel, expands exponentially. Shreave has a wife intent on
divorce, along with a girlfriend who accompanies Shreave on his
ostensible Florida vacation. Eugenie Fonda once achieved fame as
the girlfriend of a tabloid murderer.

While Santana is obsessed with her plot to destroy Shreave, she
must also fend off the advances of a stalker known only to readers
as Mr. Piejack and her drug-running former husband Perry. Add to
the mix one Florida State co-ed who falls in love with Sammy
Tigertail and a private investigator hired by Shreave's wife to
follow him on his tryst with Eugenie, and the pieces to a puzzle
that create a picture of hilarity are almost all in place.

Carl Hiaasen is a genius in creating mayhem on the pages of his
novels. Characters move in all directions across Florida, and
readers may often have difficulty keeping track of their various
escapades. In the end, however, everything comes together in a
typical Hiaasen conclusion. NATURE GIRL is pure Hiaasen, and his
many readers once again will experience the joy of his humor and
his easily recognized and human characters.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on January 12, 2011

Nature Girl
by Carl Hiaasen

  • Publication Date: November 14, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 0307262995
  • ISBN-13: 9780307262998