‘ve read a lot of Hiaasen. My shelves are loaded with him. And I’ve been wanting a crack at Bad Monkey, just not a hardback crack. Well, I never got the book but noticed the audio disk in the library right before we went on a vacation trip. Perfect. It would be great for the run home.
For those unfamiliar with Hiaasen, he writes whimsical (if you can call foul-languaged, gristly-event crimes whimsical) stories. I love them. He centers them all in Florida, his champions rough but honest heroes and our state’s imperiled beauty against developers, politicians, lawyers, tourists and everything else that is stupid/evil/both. His situations are outlandish, his characters unique, and his stories generally gems.
At the onset, a tourist couple fishing off the keys hook a unique catch – a severed human arm (middle finger erect). The police are called and a disgraced ex-detective is sent to try to foist it off on the Miami cops (a passing-the-buck move). But it doesn’t work, and buying time, the detective stores it in his freezer. But other events are brewing – the detective has been busted to roach patrol (food inspector), a horrific mansion is being build right on his property line, a fellow in the Bahamas finds himself tossed off his family’s land, and on this guy’s shoulder rides a little monkey.
A bad little monkey.
In Hiaasen fashion, all these plots weave and come together in the most unlikely ways, with the good guys winning, loosing, all while Hiaasen’s villains begin their slow degradation towards death (hey, he’s consistent). It’s all fun and foolishness. Generally I liked it.
My version was read by Arte Johnson (from Laugh-in) who did yeoman’s service by carrying the off-key world of the novel to this medium. When Arte would toss out a nasty (yet inventive) expletive, I had to laugh.
My only problem with the story was that it rather wandered by the end. We were looking at the hero and villain having a showdown in a hurricane on a small island. The hero’s woman was a prisoner, the baddy had the upper hand, all looked grim. So why, I found myself wondering, were there still two more disks?
At this point, the characters seemed to wander around without the author’s guidance. They went though their bits, all fine, but just a tad overdone. Really, the final fifth of the tale could have been left off to its betterment. (I’ll also admit that the other office Hiaasen fan felt the same way with the written version, so it’s not just me suffering a long drive).
Otherwise, yeah, it was okay. However, it you want Hiaasen in top form, check out some of his classics (my favorite is Lucky You!, about the Florida lottery). And once you get the angle on this great author, you can enjoy some of his other works.