Reality’s out; hilarity’s in

Bob Moyer knows a delightfully crazy crime novel when he reads one, and he’s just read the latest zany book by Carl Hiaasen.

Reviewed by Robert P.  Moyer

BAD MONKEY. By Carl Hiaasen. Alfred A. Knopf. 336 pages. $26.95

Take a severed arm, recently owned by a man suspected of massive Medicare fraud.  Toss it into a freezer, currently owned by Andrew Yancy, demoted from Miami detective to health inspector (read: roach counter).  Add in Yancy’s ex-girlfriend, a fugitive sex offender from Arkansas, and his current girlfriend, a coroner who likes to get lively in the morgue. Top it all off with a Bad Monkey, who got fired from a Johnny Depp movie for flinging feces around the set. What does it all add up to?

Just another hilarious romp in the Hiaasenian universe.

Carl Hiaasen consistently comes up with stories that strain the possible, let alone the probable. His stories are just as likely to make readers roll their eyes as roll on the floor with laughter. Nevertheless, he keeps us engaged, creating good guys with bad habits, and bad guys with no redeeming qualities.

It makes perfect sense in his world that Yancy would think he could get his job back if he finds out who murdered the guy who lost the arm, even though Yancy was caught on camera on a city street conducting a rectal procedure on his ex-girlfriend’s husband – with a vacuum cleaner.

A slightly tarnished knight, Yancy sets off on his quest through scenery made familiar by John D. MacDonald, a Florida damaged by corrupt developers and businessmen. Hiaasen’s outrageous premises stem from his outrage at the havoc wreaked upon the landscape, executed by venal characters all the way from the coast of Florida to the Bahamas.

More than a master of character, Hiaasen also comes up with appropriate and satisfying comeuppances for his villains. Just desserts are served up in the author’s comic universe of good versus evil, and Yancy returns to his home with a view unimpeded by a   developer’s monstrosity of a house.

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