February 3, 2012

Review: Wahoo Rhapsody

By Shaun Morey
Available now from AmazonEncore
Review copy

Book Cover
Carl Hiaasen is one of my favorite authors. He was one of those lucky random finds. I took a book out of the library because it looked like it wouldn't be terrible, and it turned out to be hilarious, utterly insane, and well-plotted to boot. (I believe my first was LUCKY YOU, but I devoured every Hiaasen the library had so quickly they ended up blurred together.) I wanted to read WAHOO RHAPSODY, since the title alone gave away that Shaun Morey had at least some inspiration from Hiaasen. (Or Tim Dorsey, another terrific author. I recommend ORANGE CRUSH.)

Not to shock you, but Shaun Morey is no Carl Hiaasen.

WAHOO RHAPSODY is still a terrific book. The short chapters keep the action moving forward - and it's quality, ridiculous action. It all starts when Weevil, the first mate of the Wahoo Rhapsody, agrees to smuggle marijuana in the yellowfin tuna and then tries to steal a bale. Things go awry for the crew, the boat's silent partner, the cannery manager waiting for the shipment, and the drug lords themselves.

Now, Morey has a few things to learn. Big Joe, the toughest of the crew, is a terrific character in theory. But his exploits are entirely separate from the plot; he does nothing once rejoining with his comrades. His thread fizzled out instead of building to the finish. People meet with terrible mishaps, but some of those people are the good guys. Cartoonish violence is funny when it happens to the bad guys, not when it leaves the most sympathetic characters bandaged for the whole of the book.

But if Morey smooths out the rough edges he could be the Hiaasen of the West Coast. He captures the setting well, including quite a bit of untranslated Spanish. I had no issues with it and think most of it could be gleaned from context, but it was all Spanish I already knew. Thus, I thought it was a nice touch.

I enjoyed it and would've enjoyed it back when I first discovered Hiaasen in high school. Some violence and sex might make it inappropriate for younger teens.

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