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.