Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bad Monkey

I wonder what it's like in Carl Hiaasen's brain, but I'm sure I want to know.  It's clearly a strange place, full of strange crimes, corrupt developers, noble if off-the-rails reporters and policemen, smart women, crooked politicians, and strange fetishes.  And animals, like the titular Bad Monkey.  The monkey, an unruly former co-star of Johnny Depp, doesn't have much to do with the story.  He's Neville Strafford's pet, at least until the Neville hands him over to the Voodoo Queen in exchange for a curse.  But more about that later.

Bad Monkey starts with a Florida Keys tourist on the Misty Momma IV catching a dismembered arm (which, of course, is giving the finger).  It falls to disgraced sheriff's officer Andrew Yancy to bring the arm to the Miami Medical Examiner's Office for identification.  The arm belongs to Nichols Stripling, a medical supply magnate (he specializes in scooter chairs and Medicaid fraud) who apparently died in a boating accident.  The arm's daughter thinks her stepmother was involved, so she asks Yancy (who has by then been demoted to restaurant inspector, due to his assault of his girlfriend's husband in full view of a cruise ship) to investigate.  When a man in an orange rain poncho murders the first mate from the Misty Momma IV, and a doctor involved in Stripling's fraud commits suicide, Yancy follows the trail to the Bahamas.  Once there, he meets Neville who has given the Voodoo Queen Driggs the monkey in exchange for a curse on the developer to whom Neville's sister sold their land (including Neville's house).

If Bad Monkey sounds a bit sane for a Carl Hiaasen book, it's because I haven't explained Yancy's campaign against the developer who's built a monstrosity on the lot next to his house, Drigg's antics, multiple restaurant inspections, or why the Russian mob helps tie up the loose ends.  It's typical Hiaasen in that respect, with several incredible (and incredibly funny) threads that barely manage to make sense but somehow resolve.  Read it - just not in a place where hysterical laughter might disturb those around you.

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