Our villain was really attached to his watch. His arm, not so much. Neither one…
Andrew Yancy–late of the Miami Police, soon-to-be-late of the Key West Police–has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, his commander might relieve him of Health Inspector duties, aka Roach Patrol. But first Yancy will negotiate an ever-surprising course of events–from the Keys to Miami to a Bahamian out island–with a crew of equally ever-surprising characters, including: the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; an avariciously idiotic real estate developer; a voodoo witch whose lovers are blinded-unto-death by her particularly peculiar charms; Yancy’s new love, a kinky medical examiner; and the eponymous Bad Monkey, who earns his place among Hiaasen’s greatest characters with hilariously wicked aplomb.
Another gem in the Hiassen literary crown, but you do have to have a bit of a warped sense of humour.
Setting: South Florida, Keys, Bahamas
Cast: crazy caricatures of real people
Plot: ___absolutely chaotic
Hiassen’s prequel to Razor Girl, this novel sets a great tone, wacky characters, far out plot, absurd situations, all packed into a hilarious wrap of a crime story.
The story is based loosely on a Florida scam but with a believable innovation. A con man scams seniors by selling them mobile auto wheelchairs, eventually, the seniors are fictitious but he continues to scam the government medicare system making himself into a very rich man. The plot gets a twist when this man fakes his own death with the goal of collecting the $2 mil insurance.
Hiassen weaves a unique bunch of weirdos and warped characters into the story, even a monkey who supposedly had a role in the Johnny Depp Pirates movie produced by Disney. The monkey is the lead in an incredible cast of strange and not so strange misfits.
Our hero, Andrew Yancy, has lost his detective status after an action which his superior felt was defaming the whole force. Yancy gets demoted to pest control officer where he inspects and certifies health status of Keys Florida bars and bistros. His escapades in that role may make you think twice about dining out. Even your imagination cannot match the descriptive narratives he recounts about his contamination finds. I may never eat out again.
Yancy paramours play a significant part in the story. The first, Bonni-Plover, now the past, is a law-evading sexual exploiter of an underage student but who becomes an arsonist who does Yancy a big favour; his second, Rosa, the current bedmate, a coroner for Miami, plays a major role in his detective activities as he tries to unsuccessfully convince his old boss to reinstate him to his old position.
The monkey, the Bahamas, the realtor
The monkey of the story has a secondary role but besides being hilarious, it is a role that ultimately saves Rosa from ‘a fate worse than death.’ The monkey gets re-gifted to a practising voodoo witch whose role in the story is supportive but crucial. The Bahamas beside being the setting of a passionate union of Rosa and Andrew where the climax occurs with the roof being blown away from the home in which they are actively pursuing a conjugal bonding. The story becomes even more ribald and ridiculous when Hiassen describes the witch as a sexual predator in her own right, mistakenly believing the monkey is simply a hairy child whom she pursues for sexual rewards. The story never really rises above that level of humour or seriousness but it does take many more unexpected twists and turns.
The realtor is trying to build and sell a huge home on the property adjacent to Yancy’s. Yancy is opposed to this construction as the “by-law violating height” of the new home obstructs Yancy’s views of indescribably beautiful Keys’ sunsets, not to mention that all the construction scares away the dog-sized Keys’ deer that forage in the shrubbery around Yancy’s home. Yancy wants his old pristine neighbourhood preserved if not restored. Enter Bonnie-Plover to Yancy’s eternal gratitude.
The detached arm, leads to a second
The villain of the story is so devoted to his scam to bilk the insurance company, he has his arm amputated to authenticate his death. It would have worked if Andrew’s detective skills had not sensed that something was wrong. Ultimately, Rosa confirms Andrew’s misgivings and the story carries on to greater ludicrocy and more unbelievable events, resulting in a second arm being recovered in a Bahamian fishing shoal.
Again, Hiassen’s sense of humour, provocative style and endless erotic narration makes for an entertaining read much in the vein of Lawrence Sanders, another comedic crime fiction writer whose settings were also south Florida. [ Archy McNally series, ghostwritten by Vincent Lardo ]