Thursday, June 20, 2013

Come On In--The Water's Fine

Skinny Dip

by Carl Hiaasen

Published by Warner Books

4 Out of 5 Stars

Joey Perrone is pissed--and she has every right to be. On their second wedding anniversary, her husband, Chaz, surprises her by booking a romantic Carnival-style cruise. He surprises her again by getting her drunk, throwing her overboard in the middle of the night, and leaving her as shark bait. What Chaz doesn't know is that Joey survives by clinging to a wayward bale of Jamaican weed. She's found, exhausted and a little worse for wear, by Mick Stranahan, a recluse who lives on a private island and shuns the mainland after being forced into early retirement from the police force after killing a politically well-connected criminal. If fate dealt Joey a cruel blow that night on the cruise ship, it's certainly making up for it by creating the perfect situation in which to exact revenge on her philandering and murderous husband. What follows is a bizarre, tangled, and amusing revenge scheme that reveals just what a lowlife Chaz Perrone really is.

Carl Hiaasen books are quick, funny reads with a soul. Skinny Dip is full of quirky characters (such as Tool, the bodyguard with a bullet lodged in the crack of his ass and a penchant for collecting roadside crosses; Red Hammernut, the Yosemite Sam like billionaire making big profit off of thwarting EPA rules; Ricca, Chaz's mistress who has, shall we say, some peculiar artistic tendencies when it comes to personal grooming), implausible plot lines, and witty dialogue. However, for all of the absurdity, there is an underlying environmental message about the Everglades and how big money and political influence can circumvent the very agencies who are trying to do right by our planet. The message is never preachy; Hiaasen simply uses the characters and the plot to point out how corporate corruption is going on beneath our very noses and how industrial farming's mismanagement of natural resources is making itself felt in our water supply, our land, and in the animals who inhabit the very ecosystems we're destroying. However, if you're not looking for an environmental message, that's cool--still consider giving Hiaasen a try. There are plenty of zany capers, madcap adventures, and fun to be had.

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