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By Carl Hiaasen
Alfred A. Knopf, 2004 ( $24.95)
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
When Joey Perrone's husband Chaz makes a reservation for a luxury cruise for their second anniversary, she is hopeful that it will be a chance to bring back the magic in their faltering marriage. As she struggles to stay alive in the chilly Atlantic waters after he throws her overboard, her hopes are dashed. Luckily for the disappointed bride, the skills she gained as a championship swimmer in college are still sharp, and she is able to hang on long enough to be rescued. When her rescuer, ex-state attorney Mick Stranahan, hears her story, he urges her to report the crime to the authorities. Joey, however, has other plans for her callous mate, convinces Mick to go along with her, and the rest of the book centers on how the fury of this intrepid woman scorned plays out.
As usual, Hiaasen includes a whole mess of over-the-top characters and absurd situations that make for a hysterically funny read. Chaz Perrone is a environmental biologist in the same way that Hitler was a humanist, helping his boss, millionaire sleezeball Red Hammernut, bilk the government and rape the Everglades with nary a twinge of conscience. Hammernut's muscle man, Earl "Tool" O'Toole, is an extra-hairy Neanderthal with a penchant for stealing highway crosses commemorating traffic deaths and an endearing soft spot for old ladies. Police detective Karl Rolvaag, proud owner of two albino pythons, is pining for the Midwest, but he doesn't want to pack his bags until he nails the wife-murdering Chaz. Then there's Joey's sheep-herding brother Mark, her best friend the femme fatale Rose, Chaz's girlfriend Ricca, the mysterious and menacing Captain who roams the Everglades dispensing justice and mercy as he sees fit, and more. Classic Hiaasen, this is good fun with minimal blood and gore.
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