By Carl Hiaasen
Available now from Knopf (Random House)
When I was about thirteen, I picked LUCKY YOU off the library shelves. I liked the bright colors and kicky title, no other reason than that. I've been a fan of Carl Hiaasen ever since. I've even converted other fans, most notably my mother who wanted me to read my copy of BAD MONKEY faster so that she could read it.
BAD MONKEY takes Hiaasen slightly out of his wheelhouse without removing his most noticeable touches. It takes place in South Florida, of course, but also moves to the Bahamas for a memorable storm. None of his reoccurring characters make an appearance, but surely leading man Andrew Yancy will make another appearance. Due to an angry attack on his mistress's husband, he's been busted from policeman to restaurant inspector. He's becoming quite thin as a result. But he thinks an arm hooked by a tourist could be the case to get him back on the force.
The appeal of Hiaasen to me is how he mixes the perverse and the moral, the high brow and the low brow, and other opposites to such great effect. His protagonist have their flaws, but they're never anything on the villains. And those greedy, violent schemers always get what's coming to them in the craziest ways. The path to the comeuppance is labyrinthine, but easy to follow because the humor and subject matter lighten it up and keep the story moving. Hiaasen makes me think of a Chuck Palahniuk who is less in love with his shock value and ever so slightly more optimistic about the human condition.
Getting back to the characters, I wasn't all that interested in the eponymous monkey at first. His owner, I liked, but the monkey I wasn't so sure about. But Hiaasen eventually changed my mind and I loved him by the end. As for the women in the novel, I don't want to give too much away. However, I loved that one of them did something I didn't expect at all. It was a nice bit of redirection and sweet in a very illegal way.
If you're not already a Hiaasen fan, here's your chance to become one. This is his first adult novel since STAR ISLAND in 2010, which was fun but not his best. I think BAD MONKEY stands up with his best novels. I'm not saying it's as good as SKIN TIGHT, but I think I'd put it in the top five. So read what the cool kids will have on the beach this summer: BAD MONKEY.