Thursday, June 07, 2007

the last book I read

Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen.

Odd coincidence - my mother is a member of a book group (and after my semi-humorous off-slagging of book groups in the previous TLBIR post as well - oh, the bitter irony), and we have a book-swap arrangement going at work whereby people bring in spare or unwanted books, stick them on a shelf and others can come and scavenge them as desired. No, wait, that's not the coincidental bit.

The coincidental bit is that, almost simultaneously, the book group selected Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip as their latest book (a bit racy for a group of predominantly sixtysomething ladies, I would have thought, rightly it appears in hindsight) and person or persons unknown brought in two Hiaasens to the book-swap shelf: Sick Puppy and this one. Knowing Hiaasen by reputation but never having read any of his stuff I nabbed them both.

A note on pronunciation: I've really no idea. The approach I've gone for is pretty much to say "hyacinth" and omit the "th" at the end; that seems to work.

Anyway, the book. Veterinary assistant JoLayne Lucks (Lucks - you see what he did there?) wins the Florida State Lottery. Or rather half of the Florida State Lottery, because malodorous white supremacist militiamen Chub and Bode have a winning ticket too. You'd think they'd be happy sharing a jackpot of $28 million, but no, they want the lot. Getting wind of where the other ticket was sold, they track down JoLayne, take her ticket (at the cost of some severe cuts and bruises) and take off.

Meanwhile down-on-his-luck investigative journalist Tom Krome has been sent to try and get an interview with JoLayne. Turning up shortly after Chub and Bode (and feeling a bit guilty after the media blabbed the location of the winning ticket) he sets off with JoLayne to pursue the ticket thieves. During the course of the pursuit Chub and Bode pick up a young recruit to their cause, and kidnap a Hooters waitress, Amber, who proves to be a whole heap of trouble. Meanwhile Tom and JoLayne find their relationship getting slightly more complicated.....

Anyway, for reasons I won't go into in detail, things all come to a head on an uninhabited island in the Florida Keys. The bad guys get their comeuppance, things work out generally satisfactorily for the innocent participants, and highly satisfactorily for the good guys.

It's a funny book. Funny as in intentionally comedic, absurd, satirical as opposed to laugh-out-loud funny, but that's OK. If you want a point of reference I'd say imagine Elmore Leonard crossed with Tom Sharpe. Highly readable; my only criticism would be it's all a bit comfortable and right-on in terms of its targets - hands up who's going to be cheering for pig-ignorant redneck white supremacists, money-grabbing religious maniacs, environment-despoiling property developers and mafia stooges. Anyone? All right then. It's also pretty obvious that the good guys are going to remain unscathed throughout, and fall into each others arms in a happy-ever-after fashion at the end. None of which is a criticism, particularly, just that if you're expecting shades of grey and some nice spicy moral ambiguity, look elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

To my shame I've not read a book in about a year and am currently searching for one that can re-ignite my interest. You ever get that?

This guy sounds like he may possess that formula. I've heard of Sick Puppy and have read all of Tom Sharpe's books - any of which would be perfect to get me back into reading again, had I not read them already but have never got around to Elmore Leonard (although I've seen Get Shorty and was sufficiently amused).

See? Book reviews do serve a purpose if they're in the right place...

electrichalibut said...

I seriously recommend Elmore Leonard. I'd start with either Killshot or Freaky Deaky if I were you. Get Shorty (book and film) was fine, but it's fair to say it's at the lighter end of his range. Glad to be of service!