Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover (available in mass market), 355 pages, 2004

Rating: 9/10

Reason for Reading: A friend got me hooked on Hiaasen and his wacky goodness.

Synopsis: On a dark night aboard a cruise ship, Chaz Perrone flips his wife over the boat’s railing into the ocean and congratulates himself on a successful murder. But Joey didn’t die – she popped up confused and spitting mad, managing to survive by clinging to a bale of Jamaican marijuana until loner Mitch Stranahan hauls her out of the water. Rather than heading directly for the police, Joey decides to let Chaz think she died while she tries to piece together why he would suddenly feel the urge to kill her. And a little revenge seems like a good way to pass the time between her amateur sleuthing excursions, which seem poised to blow the lid off of some of Chaz’s dirty little secrets…

Why you should read this book: Hiaasen is on the top of his game with Skinny Dip. He eases up from previous books to let the destruction of the Florida Everglades be the catalyst to plot events, rather than an excuse to write a book as a platform for ranting. The collection of characters is the crème de la crème of Hiaasen’s repertoire. Despite the ludicrousness of the characters (loner island-dwellers, millionaires, swamp men, sex-starved idiots), they still come off as characters rather than caricatures. But the most important quality Skinny Dip possesses is Hiaasen’s over-the-top sense of humour. Reader beware: this tale of revenge is destined to be the cause of many unsuccessfully-smothered public giggles. Hiaasen has crafted the kind of satisfying ending that leaves you sighing contentedly but wishing there was more chaos from the book’s characters to enjoy. Hilarious and surprisingly fresh work from Hiaasen, who seemed stuck in a world of RSD (Repetitive Story Disorder) in his more recent novels.

Why you should avoid this book: Although the fun of the book is in the journey, it’s pretty obvious early on what’s going through Chaz’s twisted mind. Hiaasen’s a pretty in-your-face author, so this one’s not for the easily offended.

Opening paragraph:

At the stroke of eleven on a cool April night, a woman named Joey Perrone went overboard from a luxury deck of the cruise liner M.V. Sun Duchess. Plunging toward the dark Atlantic, Joey was too dumbfounded to panic.

Fabulous quotes:

‘Everybody’s got their own way of coping. Did you find your stick-ems?’
‘Just one so far. But it’s brand-new.’ Tool pivoted to exhibit the shaved spot where he’d slapped the fentanyl patch on his shoulder blade. ‘Maybe I’ll go crash for a spell,’ he said.
Charles Perrone waved. ‘Sweet dreams.’
He waited until Tool disappeared into the guest room, then reached into the nightstand and took out his new gun. Overwhelmed by the selection at Wal-Mart, he’d gone to a pawnshop in Margate, where an imaginatively tattoed neo-Nazi had sold him a basic Colt .38.

Now Joey imagined Hank and Lana Wheeler looking down from heaven and whimsically wondering if their only daughter had gone off the deep end. There was no denying the comedy of her predicament – hiding under the bed while her husband was trying to line up a hot date.
‘Have I got a surprise for you,’ Chaz was saying into the phone.
Apparently the unflushed toilet had not alerted him to the presence of a hostile intruder. Joey watched his pale, blue-veined feet pace the carpet. How easy it would be to reach out with the steak knife and spear one of those plump, hairless toes.

Also recommended: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson; Money by Martin Amis; A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain.

Also by this author: Nature Girl; Flush; Basket Case; Sick Puppy; Lucky You; Stormy Weather; Strip Tease; Native Tongue; Skin Tight; Double Whammy; Tourist Season; Hoot; Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World; Kick Ass; Paradise Screwed.

Author’s website:

Fun tidbit: Columnist/rock star wannabe Dave Barry has enlisted Hiaasen to fill in for Stephen King in Rock Bottom Remainders, a for-charity band comprised entirely of authors.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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