A man tries to
kill his wife. Unbeknown to him, she survives and, instead of informing the police about
this heinous crime, she sets about getting her own back by messing with his head. The
results are highly amusing if, ultimately, a
Hiaasenís crew of motley misfits make this a hugely
entertaining read. Thereís the shallow, self-obsessed biologist, who is as scared as he
is ignorant of the Everglades and its inhabitants. He pushes his attractive spouse from
an ocean liner to celebrate their anniversary.
Thereís the corrupt
redneck farmer who goes to any lengths to ensure that he can continue pumping foul
chemicals into the Everglades without detection.
And thereís the big,
dumb hairy bruiser who, driven to distraction by a bullet lodged in an uncomfortable
place, sorts out his little problems.
The bad guys are larger than life
and vividly portrayed. As a result, itís not long before youíre rooting for their
downfall. You wonít be disappointed. The author delights in detailing the grubby,
greedy misdemeanours of his villains. Just
when you think that they cannot sink any
lower, they invariably do. Of course, the good guys win the day. This predictability,
though, is offset by the inventiveness of what lies in store for each of the
The hero of the piece, and of some of Hiaasenís earlier works,
is Mick Stranahan. His portrayal is a little clumsy. He is a stereotypically strong,
worldly-wise loner and you just know that he is going to get the girl. In this case, she
is the wife who has been tossed in the sea by her husband from where she is plucked by,
you guessed it, the heroic Stranahan. Some of the dialogue between the two is painfully
Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable and pacy romp through the circus
that is South Florida. It is funny and each page bursts with mischief. Despite the fact
that you know where the story is going, itís a fun-packed ride full of twists and turns.
Hiaasen cares about the environment and this is never far from the
surface of his writing. All his good guys are protectors of nature and all his bad guys
treat the environment with contempt. While this is undoubtedly a simplistic view, it
never detracts from the storyís pace or direction.
Overall, this is a
sunny book. The grotesque characters and the ridiculous
situations they get
themselves into will stick in your mind and put a smile on your face. For that reason,
it is well worth a read.