Review of “Bad Monkey” by Carl Hiaasen – A Joint Review

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.”

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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.]

florida-keys-map

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.   

Map-of-Bahamas-Islands

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.

Rating:  3.5/5

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., 2013

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11 Responses

  1. Perfect kind of book in between the weighty stuff, yes? I have yet to read this author but I’m sure I have a few on the tbr already.

  2. I really liked Skinny Dip, I may have to give this one a try. I’m so in the mood for light reading.

  3. Maybe I should give Hiaasen another try. I read one of his books years ago and all of the hijnks just started feeling silly after a while.

  4. I got a kick out of seeing the Keys map in your post. I just went there last month and have been excited about the place since.

    I haven’t read a Carl Hiaasen yet but I keep meaning to check him out someday.

  5. I like his style when I’m in the mood. We have so much bizarro crap that happens down here that it makes it all the more hysterical to see it in his books. Florida in reality is stranger than fiction in most cases. You guys might try Tim Dorsey and his Serge series…same deal. Hijinx, murder most foul, and a big taste of Florida.

  6. Ooh, what a lovely analogy at the end of the reading menu and sorbet course! You two are SO SMART ;-)

    Happy holidays! Perhaps in the new year, we can arrange a rendezvous!

  7. I adored Skinny Dip by Hiaasen when I read it, but then when I tried something else, I was a tad disappointed. I hope to try another one soon. I remember lots of chuckles as I read.

    Merry Christmas Jill

  8. i’ve never gotten into Hiaasen’s books for some reason although I did thoroughly enjoy your review! The monkey on the cover reminds me of the “Gas Monkey” logo from A&E or History Channel or one of those places :-)

    Wishing you the happiest Christmas!

  9. I’ve read a few of his books and they do all tend to feel the same. That’s not a bad thing!

  10. I’ve never read anything by this author. Not sure I want to try him.

  11. I get the impression that if you like this one, you’ll like most of his work – not necessarily formulaic and predictable but following a pattern. Which is not a bad not a bad thing – it’s like going to a favorite restaurant and ordering the usual because you’re just in the mood to know you’re going to like what you’ve gotten.

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