Saturday, December 01, 2007

Skinny Dip: A Book Review

Carl Hiaasen, Skinny Dip

Warning, Carl Hiaasen can be dangerous to your health. Let me explain. I listed to Skinny Dip on my Ipod, mostly while working out at the gym. There is nothing more dangerous than being on a bench, with a bunch of weight over your head and your arms beginning to fatigue, and then be hit with one of Hiaasen’s incredibility funny lines. Numerous people wanted to know what I was listening to and one guy said that he’d never seen anybody have a much fun as I was having at the gym. Yes, I enjoyed this book.

Skinny Dip begins with Dr. Charles “Chaz” Perrone throwing his beautiful and rich wife Joey off the back of a cruise ship. It’s the last night of their anniversary cruise. Far from land, there is no way she could survive both the fall and the sharks, or so Chaz thinks. But Joey does survive, clinging to a stray bail of marijuana. She’s picked up by Mick Stranahan, a retired cop who lives on a deserted island. With Mick’s help, Joey decides she’ll let Chaz think she’s dead while she torments him for all he’s worth. As her pranks play out, a detective who main preoccupation (other than his pet snakes) is to get back to Minnesota and away from the crazies in South Florida, also gets on Chaz’s tail. But he can’t prove that Chaz threw her overboard, and in the end is satisfied to know that justice is being carried out although not through the court system.

In trying to cover his tracks, Chaz sets out to kill two other people, his mistress and his boss’ thug. In both cases, he thinks he’s done the deed perfectly, only to find out that they’ve survived. Chaz is 0-3 as a murderer and must known the fear Pilate and the Roman soldiers felt. Every time he thinks he’s gotten rid of a problem, they’re resurrected.

One of the classic scenes in the books is following Joey’s funeral. At this point, all but a few think Joey’s body has been lost at sea. Joey has a trusted friend attend the funeral dressed as a slut and then, acting grief struck, has her to hit on Chaz. Sure enough Chaz follows her home like a dog in heat. After a number of drinks, she suggests he go into the bedroom while she “freshens up.” In a scene reminiscent of Scrooge in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Joey then takes over, causing her inebriated husband to think he’s seeing ghost and to flee the house in fear.

Chaz is a biologist in name only. Although he works for the state, his real employer is Red Hammernut, a large scale farmer who needs Chaz to fake water samples so he can dump his fertilizered run-off into the Everglades. Red assigns a “body guard” to Chaz, a man who’s got a bullet in the butt and who snoops low enough to steal morphine patches off dying patients in nursing homes. He also steals highway crosses that have been put out by families who lost love ones in accidents, planting the crosses in his own back yard. In the end, after befriending one of the patients, Red’s thug has a “conversion” and gives up his more crooked ways.

This is an adult book (ie, there’s lots of sex). It's filled with lots wacky characters. In the end all the good guys seem to get hooked with a partner--Joey and Mitch, Joey's brother and Chaz's former mistress, the thug and his nursing home friend. Hiassen neatly wraps up the book, only leaving us to spectulate as to what happened to Chaz (hinting that his outcome was probably not good). I’m not sure what took me so long to get around to reading Hiaasen. My sister recommended him to me some time ago and Diane has spoken highly of him in her blog. Although funny, Hiassen’s goal is more than entertainment. He wants to raise awareness of the ecological damage being done to Florida. This week, while flying home from North Carolina, I began reading another of Hiassen’s books, Sick Puppy. It’ll go in my list of books to be reviewed. After that, I’m sure they’ll be more, but there are so many authors to read...

For other book reviews by Sage, click here.
For Semicolon's Saturday's list of book reviews in blogs, click here.


  1. I adore Hiaasen; my first foray into his work was "Sick Puppy", and a half-dozen or so later, it remains to be one of my favorites! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did

    (I haven't yet read "skinny dip", but its on the TBR shelf, and after reading your review, I may just dust it off sooner than I thought!)

    Happy Reading! (oh - and, I found you at semicolon...just FYI)

  2. The title is very attractive. My brother too recommended it. I am yet to get a hold..

    Your review will help me pick it up. Thanks.


  3. This sounds like a much needed pick me up. I'll have to check it out.

  4. I've read his column, not his books. My daughter is reading Flush (a children's book by Hiaasen). I'll have to check out some of his adult books. Thanks for the review!

  5. Nicely reviewed! Skinny Dip was my first book by Hiaasen and I have since read them all (except Striptease). I look forward to your review of Sick Puppy, too. As you might imagine, the fact that a big, dumb Labrador is a main character only helped with my enjoyment!

  6. Now that sounds like the perfect book to read over the holidays... especially if it makes working out fun!

  7. See...marijuana saves lives! lol

    Sounds like a great book. I'll have to put this one on my list too.

  8. Mo, thanks for stopping by

    Gautami, what is it about sibblings and Hiassen? lol

    Kontan, I hope the book brings you much needed laughter!

    Thanks Jean

    Enjoy it Pat!

    Scarlett, Hiassen is a real treasure for Florida!

    Diane, thanks for encouraging me to read it--yes, I thought about you and the lab.

    Jaded, it'll be a great break from dealing with your grad studies

    Joe, Are you suggesting another reason for legalization? lol

  9. I have only read one of his books, but this one goes on my list, Sage. Thanks for the review.

  10. Sounds like a great book :) I wonder if its on Zooba.