We’ve read only one book by this author previously (see our review of Skinny Dip here), but this book seemed quite similar. It has the same elements of wacky hijinks as part of a biting social satire; paeans to the natural beauty of southern Florida coupled with outrage over exploitation and despoliation; a crime committed out of greed and love-gone-bad; an exotic pet gone bad; and a very convoluted plot resolved by clever “karmic symmetry.”
Andrew Yancy, 42, has been suspended from the Monroe County sheriff’s office (by his aptly named boss “Sonny Summers”) as punishment for assaulting the husband of his “future former girlfriend” with the upholstery attachment of a portable vacuum cleaner. [Monroe County, “the Southernmost county in the Continental United States” includes the islands of the Florida Keys, where Yancy makes his home.]
As a special favor for his prior good work as a policeman, Summers gets Yancy a temporary job as a county restaurant inspector. In the meanwhile, a tourist on a fishing trip hooks and lands a man’s left arm, which apparently has been in the water for a few days. Summers, wanting to avoid any possible publicity that might adversely affect tourism, asks Yancy to deliver – in his now unofficial capacity – the severed arm to the coroner in Miami, where such things are more common. DNA analysis traces the arm to a man being investigated for Medicare fraud, one Nick Stripling.
Stripling’s wife Eve comes to retrieve the arm and arranges for a burial. But Yancy believes something is “fishy” about this catch from the sea. Yancy desperately wants to get back on the force, especially since finding out what goes on in restaurant kitchens is seriously interfering with his ability to eat anything. He figures if he solves this case, which looks like murder to him, the sheriff will have to take him back. Plus, he feels a “cop-like responsibility to sort out the truth.” At any rate, the quest will provide a good distraction for Yancy, who is brooding over the ongoing construction of a giant vacation home next door to him; it is already scaring off the wildlife and ruining his view of the gorgeous evening sunsets.
Chasing the not-so-distraught widow of Stripling leads Yancy to the Bahamas where a drug-addled, sex-crazed Voodoo Queen and a Bad Monkey add to the antics.
Evaluation: Some very funny riffs weave through this book, such as the bad monkey who is continually mistaken for a boy who doesn’t look right, and the amount of weight loss you can sustain if you are a restaurant inspector. This isn’t a heavy read; but there are lots of laughs. It is just right for the sorbet course of a heavy reading menu. We both enjoyed it.
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., 2013