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Razor Girl


Razor Girl

Former Sheriff’s Detective Andrew Yancy, who we first met in Carl Hiaasen’s BAD MONKEY, was busted down to the Health Department roach patrol because of his penchant for making headlines. The interview on the “Today” show after the infamous Dust Buster attack on a suspect was one step too far. The only advantage he finds to collecting creepy crawlies and trapping furry vermin in local Key West restaurants is that it pays the bills. It also narrows down his choices of safe eateries to about 10 percent. He desperately wants his old job back. If only he could solve one big murder, he could regain his detective badge, but murders rarely occur over infested food.

That opportunity arises when Buck Nance, the star of a redneck cable TV reality show called “Bayou Brethren,” walks off a live appearance at a nightclub when his agent, Lane Coolman, fails to show up. Nance hits the bottle and is later seen hurling insults at a Muslim tourist holding a shopping bag, accusing him of being a terrorist. He shoves him off a local tourist train with fatal results. The bag held presents for his children. Nance, now the prime suspect in a hate crime murder, shaves off his beard in a restaurant bathroom and goes into hiding. The clippings end up in something in the restaurant’s refrigerator. Enter Health Department officer Yancy and his chance for redemption.

"RAZOR GIRL is the latest installment in a series that blends satiric humor with barbed comments about the destruction wreaked on Florida’s flora and fauna by tourism and development."

Only Hiaasen can juggle the entanglement of zany South Florida characters that enter the plot. Coolman was a no-show because he’s been kidnapped after a freeway accident on the way to Nance’s performance. Here’s where we meet the beautiful redhead of the book’s title, Razor Girl, who devised an ingenious scam that involves shaving her privates while driving and resulting in an accident, causing insurance swindle and blackmail to ensue. The setup goes awry in a case of mistaken identity because Coolman is the wrong target, but he now knows too much, so his future looks bleak. The intended mark was a shyster sand merchant named Trebeaux, the owner of “Sedimental Journeys,” who takes advantage of Florida’s beach erosion by dredging sand from one ruined beach and then selling it to resort developers busily building up new luxury beachfront properties. Same sand plus new location equals big bucks. The mobster, swindled by “Sedimental Journeys,” had hired Razor Girl to bait the sand merchant so that the Mafia could settle the score.

Meanwhile, Yancy’s modest beachside property, where rare key deer roam and egrets strut the shores, is the only place he can kick back and lick his wounded pride. His idyllic view is again being threatened by plans for a new neighboring McMansion to be built by a TV product liability lawyer and his fiancé. Readers may recall in BAD MONKEY that another obtrusive mansion mysteriously burned to the ground --- an event about which Yancy firmly denies any knowledge. Now the lost whopper of a diamond engagement ring by the fiancé becomes Yancy’s ace in the hole to break up their romance and stop construction. His incidental discovery of a solution is perhaps the best punchline yet in this wickedly funny and convoluted South Florida ribaldry.

RAZOR GIRL is the latest installment in a series that blends satiric humor with barbed comments about the destruction wreaked on Florida’s flora and fauna by tourism and development. Hiaasen’s deft yet biting touch with these off-the-wall characters often reflects real events that he spins into his scenarios. The Razor Girl scam evolved from an actual news story, as have many of the other situations that he mines from reports that cross his desk as a columnist for The Miami Herald. “You can’t make this stuff up” is never more true than South Florida’s never-ending resource of eccentric characters who make their way to its shores.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on September 16, 2016

Razor Girl
by Carl Hiaasen

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Humor, Mystery
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • ISBN-10: 0345804902
  • ISBN-13: 9780345804907