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Sick Puppy Paperback – April 12, 2005

401 customer reviews
Book 4 of 6 in the Skink Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Carl Hiaasen's characters ride and flail on little verbal hurricanes, and his literary storm shows no signs of dying down. Sick Puppy shares Dave Barry's giddy gift for finding humor in South Florida horrors, and a bit of Elmore Leonard's genius for pitch-perfect dialogue spouted smartly by criminals who are dumb as stumps. The title of Hiaasen's eighth novel could apply to most of its characters, but it chiefly refers to an ebullient Labrador retriever named Boodle and the millionaire eco-terrorist Twilly Spree. Let's just say that Twilly has a singular affliction: poor anger management in the face of environmental irresponsibility. When he spots Boodle's owner, Palmer Stoat, tossing litter from a car, Twilly goes to Stoat's home and removes the glass eyeballs from the animals that the bloated lobbyist had shot and mounted on his walls. Boodle gulps down the eyeballs, sustaining no small amount of digestive difficulties.

Soon Boodle and Stoat's wife, Desie, are fugitives from Florida's nature despoilers (who include the Governor, a "gladhanding maggot," the amusingly slimy Stoat, the human bulldozer Krimmler, the cocaine-importer-turned-developer Clapley, and the hit man Mr. Gash, who's fond of sex with multiple beach bimbos in iguana-skin sex harnesses to the tunes of The World's Most Blood Curdling Emergency Calls). Desie, who has a knack for calamitous romance, is smitten with Twilly, but urges him not to kill any litterbugs or pelican molesters: "Jail would not be good for this relationship." What keeps pure farce at bay in a novel that romps with the abandon of a scent-crazed Labrador is the otherwise charming Twilly's creepy edge of implacable fanaticism. And what redeems the funny/ugly violence from cliché is its colorful bad guys (they're as iridescent as oil slicks), Hiaasen's excellent wit, and the music of his prose. To evoke a drunk asleep on the beach, he adds a pungent detail: "a gleaming stellate dollop of seagull shit decorated his forehead."

Hiaasen is not unflawed. His original eco-terrorist character, ex-Florida governor Clinton "Skink" Tyree, seems like an interloper from the earlier books. But Hiaasen's the master of madcap ensembles (which is partly why the star-vehicle film of his fine book Strip Tease flopped). And even when you can see a chase scene's denouement coming for a beachfront mile, each paragraph packs descriptive delights to keep you going at breakneck pace. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Florida muckraker Hiaasen once again produces a devilishly funny caper revolving around the environmental exploitation of his home state by greedy developers. When budding young ecoterrorist Twilly Spree begins a campaign of sabotage against a grotesque litterbug named Palmer Stoat, he gets much more than he bargained for. Stoat is a political fixer, involved with a bevy of shady types: Dick Artemus, ex-car salesman, now governor; Robert Clapley, a crooked land developer with an unhealthy interest in Barbie dolls; and his business expediter, Mr. Gash, a permed reptilian thug with ghastly musical tastes: "All morning he drove back and forth across the old bridge, with his favorite 911 compilation in the tape deck: Snipers in the Workplace, accompanied by an overdub of Tchaikowsky's Symphony No. 3 in D Major." After a wave of preemptive strikes centered on a garbage truck and a swarm of dung beetles, Twilly ups the ante and kidnaps both Palmer's dog and his wife, Desie, who finds Twilly a great deal more interesting than her slob of a husband. In doing so Twilly uncovers a conspiracy (well, more like business as usual) to jam a bill through the Florida legislature to develop Toad Island, a wildlife sanctuary, in a deal that will make a mint for all the politicos concerned. Chapley wants Twilly silenced and dispatches Mr. Gash. Palmer wants his wife and dog back and asks Dick Artemus to help in the rescue without derailing the bill. Who should be called upon but the good cop/bad psycho duo of Trooper Jim Tile and ex-Governor Clinton Tyree, aka Skink or the Captain, whose recurring appearances throughout Hiaasen's novels have made for hysterical farce. While there may be nothing laughable about unchecked environmental exploitation, Hiaasen has refined his knack for using this gloomy but persistent state of affairs as a prime mover for scams of all sorts. In Sick Puppy, he shows himself to be a comic writer at the peak of his powers. 200,000 first printing; first serial to Men's Journal; Literary Guild alternate; simultaneous audiobook. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (April 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446695688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446695688
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (401 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, where he still lives with his incredibly tolerant family and numerous personal demons.

A graduate of the University of Florida, at age 23 he joined The Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter and went on to work for the paper's weekly magazine and later its prize-winning investigations team. Since 1985 Hiaasen has been writing a regular column, which at one time or another has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including his own bosses. He has outlasted almost all of them, and his column still appears on most Sundays in The Herald's opinion-and-editorial section. It may be viewed online at or in the actual printed edition of the newspaper, which, miraculously, is still being published.

For his journalism and commentary, Hiaasen has received numerous state and national honors, including the Damon Runyon Award from the Denver Press Club. His work has also appeared in many well-known magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Time, Life, Esquire and, most improbably, Gourmet.

In the early 1980s, Hiaasen began writing novels with his good friend and distinguished journalist, the late William D. Montalbano. Together they produced three mystery thrillers -- Powder Burn, Trap Line and Double Whammy -- which borrowed heavily from their own reporting experiences.

Tourist Season, published in 1986, was Hiaasen's first solo novel. GQ magazine called it "one of the 10 best destination reads of all time," although it failed to frighten a single tourist away from Florida, as Hiaasen had hoped it might. His next effort, Double Whammy, was the first (and possibly the only) novel about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing circuit.

Since then, Hiaasen has published nine others -- Skin Tight, Native Tongue, Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, Basket Case, Skinny Dip, The Downhill Lie and Nature Girl. Hiaasen made his children's book debut with Hoot (2002), which was awarded a Newbery Honor and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller lists. For young readers he went on to write the bestselling Flush (2005) and, most recently Scat (January 2009). The film version of Hoot was released in 2006, directed by Wil Shriner and produced by Jimmy Buffett and Frank Marshall. ("Hoot" is now available on DVD).

Hiaasen is also responsible for Team Rodent (1998), a wry but unsparing rant against the Disney empire and its creeping grip on the American entertainment culture. In 2008, Hiaasen came back to nonfiction with The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport. The book chronicles his harrowing and ill-advised reacquaintance with golf after a peaceful, 32-year absence.

Together, Hiaasen's novels have been published in 34 languages, which is 33 more than he is able to read or write. Still, he has reason to believe that all the foreign translations are brilliantly faithful to the original work. The London Observer has called him "America's finest satirical novelist," while Janet Maslin of the New York Times has compared him to Preston Sturges, Woody Allen and S.J. Perelman. Hiaasen re-reads those particular reviews no more than eight or nine times a day.

To prove that he doesn't just make up all the sick stuff in his fiction, Hiaasen has also published two collections of his newspaper columns, Kick A** and Paradise Screwed, both courageously edited by Diane Stevenson and faithfully kept in print by the University Press of Florida.

One of Hiaasen's previous novels, Strip Tease, became a major motion-picture in 1996 starring Demi Moore, and directed by Andrew Bergman. Despite what some critics said, Hiaasen continues to insist that the scene featuring Burt Reynolds slathered from his neck to his toes with Vaseline is one of the high points in modern American cinema.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Daniel W Kurina on January 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I , as a Floridian, am a huge Hiaasen fan. I was quite disappointed by LUCKY YOU, it had none of that Hiassen flair I am used to. I bought SICK PUPPY the day it came out, and ended up staying up all night reading it for 6 hours straight. It is his best yet (even better than TOURIST SEASON and STORMY WEATHER, his best two if you ask me). It is great to have Skink and Jim Tile back, and I love ther charater of Twilly. This is a must have book for all Hiaasen fans. Allyou have to do now is buy his book on Disney and your collection is complete.........
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Rosalie Owen on February 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. I read it all in one sitting and it really made me think, and laugh, all at the same time. The characters were great, the plot flowed well, and I loved the rhinoceros hunt. All in all a funny and meaningful book. Sound like the author is mad, but laughing. I am too.
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55 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Carl Hiaasen's "Sick Puppy" brings back his usual madcap hijinks, something that I felt was missing in his last novel, "Lucky You". The crooked politicians are there as is an environmental terrorist and the ever popular ex-Governor of Florida, Skink.
The story has some extremely hilarious moments. I particularly liked the 911 calls listened to by Mr. Gash, they were hilarious! The bad guys get their (unusual) due at the end, always a fun thing about a Hiaasen book and Skink rides off in the sunset waiting to appear again (probably in Hiaasen's book after the next one - he has a pattern of showing up).
My only criticism is that Hiaasen's books are starting to sound the same. Twilly Spree, the environmental terrorist, is like Skip Wiley from Tourist Season. Palmer Stoat is like Francis X. Kingsbury from Native Tongue and Desiee Stoat is like the lead female character in every Hiaasen book. The only thing he didn't do this time was have a reporter or former reporter (Hiaasen's regular gig) as a character in this book.
I think Carl Hiaasen needs to look at a whole new type of plot for his next novel, one that doesn't involve trying to save the ever-shrinking Florida landscape. I think he could really write the ultimate comedy novel if he broaded his horizons. And with all of the crookedness in Florida, it shouldn't be a problem.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By RevChrisEsq on January 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As soon as I saw this book out, I had to buy it! Having read almost everything this author has written, getting the latest was indeed high priority. Now I've rated this book "only" four stars, so let me explain.
Yes the book is hilarious. And from the very first page. But in comparison to "Double Whammy", my favorite Hiassen book of all, I've come to "expect" serious whackiness in his characters now. Perhaps that's why "Double Whammy", for me, was the funniest book I've ever read. I wasn't expecting it, and furthermore, the book started out disguised as a rather serious mystery, and it was somewhere into the book as the characters developed, that I realized how crazy, and how dumb, some of them were. "Sick Puppy" makes no effort to disguise this. It is evident from the beginning that all the characters are nuts and no telling what foolishness they will get into. Furthermore, while the book certainly entertains, the end result doesn't have quite the ingeniousness built into the climax, as say the fishing tournament at the end of "Double Whammy".
And I only rate this book four stars, simply because I don't think it's quite as good as "Stormy Weather", "Tourist Season", "Native Tongue", "Double Whammy", "Skin Tight", which I would all rate five stars. But like any Indiana Jones and Star Wars movie is entertaining to watch over and over, so are Hiassen's books, and "Sick Puppy" is no exception.
And I'm quite sure we have been primed to see more of Boodles and Twily in the future. Bring them on! I'll buy the next Hiassen book as soon as it comes out to.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jason Warner on February 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Though it's hardly a laugh a page as the dust jacket might have you believe, Sick Puppy is still an entertaining read. John Grisham take note: this is how you can wrap a message in an entertaining story unlike the purely preachy Street Lawyer. There are at least a couple dozen major laughs in the book, with a general air of lightness throughout the rest of the text. The book won't tax your brain, or even be very memorable, but it's great for an in between book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Since Tourist Season, Hiaasen's books have reminded me of aerobatic flying in the most satisfying expect a wild ride, but like any force of nature, he manages to throw new stomach-twitching high-lows that you didn't think were waiting for you. What's rewarding in a more aching way is rediscovering that you can still share his subtext of outrage at social and political drifts that we've come to take for granted...from ravaged lands we've stolen from our children to please greedy developers to the hearts of Russian women who will not only sell their bodies for sex, but deliver them to an operating table for hilarious yet cruelly-disfiguring cosmetic surgery. It's good to read a master at the top of his game, but it's even better to heed his alerts to a culture almost lost to the creeping evil of individual self-absorption.
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