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5.0 out of 5 stars Bad Monkey: Another few karmic days in paradise, May 10, 2013
This review is from: Bad Monkey (Hardcover)
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Most of us have our favorite authors. They have earned that particular place on out bookshelves as they have either enlightened or entertained us over time, and if we're lucky, a few of them have done both. But as new titles are released, one can only speculate as to whether it will be as good as the author's previous works.

Bad Monkey is the latest offering in a long line from author and journalist Carl Hiaasen, and speaking subjectively, this one does not disappoint. The familiar South Florida locations are there, and with some interesting alternative Caribbean localities added in as a slight change of pace. It's not easy to offer a good synopsis without dropping a few spoilers, as this book offers so much occurring in a typical Hiaasen fashion that will quickly be recognizable to readers of his previous tales.

Here we meet former detective Andrew Yancy, lately of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the primary law enforcement agency serving the Florida Keys. Those who have read the book blurbs in the description already know that he is in possession of a detached human arm in his freezer, but how it gets there is one of those things that helps build the story. Yancy has a dubious history in police work due to a past event where he had done something a bit out of bounds with a hand-held vacuum attachment to his former lover's husband, then posting a video of it on YouTube. As a result, he has been suspended, but is offered an enforcement position as a restaurant inspector... "roach patrol" as he terms it.

The settings and characters make this one classic Hiaasen. Beside a severed arm with its extended middle finger in the freezer, a Black & Decker cordless vacuum (with a rotating nozzle), a Medicare-underwritten electric scooter scam and a live honeybee hive being placed in a bedroom, we are introduced to some amazing individuals. There's Yancy's recent ex-lover, who is a passionate fugitive on the run; his new focus is an amorous female coroner with occasionally kinky tastes. There's the Dragon Queen, a Bahamian voodoo witch, who can and will cast her black magic spells, and a pair of greedily enthusiastic real-estate speculators. These are just a few of the characters that the reader will encounter within the pages.

In addition, there's the psoriatic monkey of the title, along with his loyal friend... but to say any more would be unfair to the reader.

This new book is a good jump above the author's previous novel, Star Island. That 2010 book was somewhat middling for this reader, but one of the personalities found there (who will remain unmentioned here) was one of those wonderfully strange and idiosyncratic characters that we find in Hiaasen's novels, and when he picks a good one, we often find that they can reappear. We found this being carried over from Hiaasen's previous books, such as Double Whammy, Stormy Weather or Skinny Dip, and speaking subjectively, I would hope to see Andrew Yancy reappear in future offerings. I found him to be a well-rounded and quirky character as so often found in the author's works, going back to Tourist Season from 1986, his first solo novel.

As improbable as his characters seem to be by some, Carl Hiaasen was asked about them by columnist Deborah Solomon in a New York Times interview article published July 25, 2004. His response was quite direct:

"The Florida in my novels is not as seedy as the real Florida. It's hard to stay ahead of the curve. Every time I write a scene that I think is the sickest thing I have ever dreamed up, it is surpassed by something that happens in real life."

This was not new ground for this veteran journalist, as readers who are familiar with his works know from his 1999 book Kick Ass. It was easy to see that the ideas and themes for his novels came from real life in South Florida.

Bad Monkey is loaded with those hilarious one-line descriptions that are so characteristic of Hiaasen's writing, and if someone dares you to read his novels without laughing out loud, don't take them up on such a bet. First time readers will find this to be a good, fast read with some quirky characters that make this to be a page-turner; fans author will be in comfortable ground. Though it's sometimes difficult to write a review of a new release from a long-time favorite author, as there's a natural bias that comes into play, this one is highly recommended. It's another few karmic days in paradise, as only Carl Hiaasen can present them.

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 10, 2013 1:29:27 PM PDT
Columnist Deborah Solomon's interview with Carl Hiaasen was published in the New York Times on July 25th, 2004. As can be seen here, the author had much more to say:


Note that this was around the time that author Hiaasen's novel Skinny Dip was first published in 2004, and was one of those where the recurring character of ex-Governor of Florida Clinton Tyree (a.k.a. Skink) appeared.

Posted on May 11, 2013 5:31:54 PM PDT
Kort says:
Well, FL, especially S. FL, offers a plethora of material for authors. We do live up to our Strange But True Florida reputation. I'm happy Carl has been able to cash in on it, and it does so with panache!

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2013 6:36:03 PM PDT
Kort, that's a fact that South Florida has it's own weirdness. But why did you have to mention Strange But True Florida by Lynne L. Hall? I saw this years ago, but now I've been compelled to buy it here...

But Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey, Randy Wayne White and Dave Barry happen to be among my favorite authors, Florida and otherwise. And if you've never read Naked Came the Manatee a hilarious serial novel with Dave Barry writing the first chapter and Carl Hiaasen wrapping up all of the loose ends (to put it mildly) you should. It should be required reading for all of those who live south of Jupiter Inlet.

Posted on Jun 13, 2013 3:36:02 PM PDT
Update: I was fortunate to be able to attend the kickoff book signing event in New York City on the day that Bad Monkey was released. Carl Hiaasen spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of all ages, and it's easy to say that he is certainly as witty in person as he is in print. Without dropping any spoilers for those who have yet to read this book, some of the things that he mentioned were:

1. It's probable that Health Inspector Andrew Yancy will be back in future novels.
2. Another book similar to Kick Ass: Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen is in the works.
3. Clinton "Skink" Tyree (Double Whammy) will be back, but in a surprising way.
4. Some of the events in the book were based on actual events... as expected.
5. There is yet another book for young adults coming out.

Carl Hiaasen was very candid and up front with the questions that were posed to him at this event, but it wouldn't be fair to say much more to those who have yet to read the book. There's a book tour schedule posted on the author's Facebook page, along with links to interviews, etc.

Official Carl Hiaasen Page

Hope that this helps those who may be interested.

Posted on Jun 18, 2013 5:32:05 PM PDT
I'm getting this book.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2013 5:50:09 PM PDT
Ashley, there's something that tells me that you'll really appreciate the dark humor in Bad Monkey... and as noted before, if someone dares you to read this or any of Carl Hiaasen's novels without laughing out loud, don't take them up on the bet.

Posted on Jul 1, 2013 8:51:18 PM PDT
Janet Leahr says:
Classic Hiaasen work...Excellent

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2013 12:02:34 AM PDT
Thank you, Janet. And I agree.
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John Williamson

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