Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Carl Hiaasen”

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #34: Star Island by Carl Hiaasen

Let’s get the hard part over with first. This is not my favorite Hiaasen, and generally it falls below most of the contemporary fiction I’ve read this cannonball. In many ways Star Island is an entirely typical Hiaasen novel: its set in South Florida, it features a storyline about real estate developers and politicians trampling pristine environments, is a morality tale about the excesses of Hollywood and South Beach, and features everyone’s favorite former governor turned hermit – Skink.

Everything is better with Skink, which is how I know that I didn’t really enjoy this book because I didn’t like half of Skink’s storyline.  And the half I didn’t enjoy was the half that featured the novel’s main protagonists – Cherry Pye and Ann DeLusia.  Cherry Pye (née Cheryl Bunterman) is a pop star since the tender age of fourteen—and about to attempt a comeback from her latest drug-and-alcohol disaster in the vein of every lurid tabloid story you’ve ever heard. Then there’s Ann DeLusia her undercover stunt double.  Ann portrays Cherry whenever the singer is too ‘indisposed’ to go out in public, but Cherry has no idea she exists.

The plot revolves around Ann’s job of doubling Cherry and a photographer determined to get the ultimate shots of Cherry before what everyone, including her manager, is sure is going to happen. Her untimely death. But before this storyline can get underway Ann gets caught up with Skink. Skink ends up ‘rescuing’ Ann from a car crash along Card Sound Road in the Keys and becomes invested in the young actress after he uses her as part of his scheme to get back at an unscrupulous real estate developer. This ends up being good for Ann and bad for Cherry.

Hiaasen has created a character in Cherry who is by all definitions awful, and he writes about her with contempt in his authorial voice. Which is a problem; this is an antagonist to Ann but a protagonist in her own right so making her a punching bag does not in any way help the reader become more involved in the stories of her parents, management, publicists, security, or boyfriends. There is also a lot of lazy descriptions of Cherry whom he refers to constantly as the former Cheryl Bunterman. I would’ve preferred an acronym (TFCB).

I’d say to steer clear of this one. It’s too long, too convoluted and not even the comic send-ups of the characters futures in the epilogue were satisfying.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #20: Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen

I have a fondness for Carl Hiaasen books that is directly linked to the fact that I spent my formative years living in South Florida and that I was raised by two incredibly sarcastic folks. This means that I am hardwired to love this man and his books.

And I do.

I decided that a return trip into the land of Hiaasen was a great way to start the upcoming summer season so over Memorial Day weekend I dove right in (pun intended). Skinny Dip starts off with a woman recounting being tossed into the Atlantic Ocean from a cruise ship by her husband, and trying to puzzle it out while also swimming for shore – which is many, many miles away.  Our fateful heroine ends up fighting a shark, she thinks, but instead ends up holding close to a bale of marijuana to float closer to shore, and he rescuer who lives alone on a small island in Biscayne Bay.

Joey Perrone is our castaway and her rescuer is a former Miami cop, Mick Stranahan. We learn throughout the book about each character’s difficult pasts. She was orphaned at a young age, he’s been married six times. Because this is a Hiaasen book it’s not a romance, but it is a comedy (Joey’s parents die in a plane crash which was most likely caused by a trained bear waking up in the co-pilot’s seat and he has had his boat stolen several times by exes looking to leave the island).

While a good chunk of the story is about Joey and Mick, the larger part of the story is about Joey’s revenge on her husband, Charles ‘Chaz’ Perrone and his reasons for attempting to off Joey in the first place. Chaz, it turns out, is part of Samuel  ‘Red’ Hammernut’s plan to keep polluting the Everglade. Red is a crooked farm tycoon who owns large vegetable fields adjacent to the Everglades, which he pollutes with fertilizer run-off. Chaz is officially employed by the state authorities to test swamp water for pollutants but he is also on Hammernut’s payroll, forging the test results and allowing Hammernut to continue doing as he has always done.  Chaz thinks Joey has found him out, and the only way to keep her from telling the authorities is to kill her. When Joey comes to on Mick’s island she asks him to keep her rescue a secret and allow everyone, including her husband to think that she is indeed dead and launches a plan to exact her revenge and eventually uncover Chaz’s off the books job.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as things devolve into madness. If you’re a Hiaasen fan there are also sightings of favorite Everglades’ hermit Clinton ‘Skink’ Tyree and Twilly Spree. Mick Stranahan is himself a repeat offender in Hiassen’s novels, originating in Skin Tight. I completely loved my time in Hiaasen’s world, and I’m sure I’ll venture back in again before the summer is out since there are a bunch that I haven’t read. For the parent types out there Hiaasen’s Hoot is fantastic.

this review is cross-posted

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