Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On the Shelf at Paragraphs - "Razor Girl"

The novels by Carl Hiassen are favorites with our customers. As a columnist for the Miami Herald, Hiaasen has a subject: Florida. For years he has written stories that highlight the most bizarre antics and colorful episodes of life in our third largest state. Hiaasen grew up in Florida during the 1950s and has lived and worked there his entire life, watching it morph from a rural backwater with abundant natural beauty and resources to one struggling with the effects of development and tourism. Hiassen’s books are first and foremost fast-paced thrillers combining equal parts of humor and suspense. However, he handles serious issues with a satiric wit that never feels pedantic. Each of Hiaasen's novels is set in a different part of the state and is full of colorful characters in outlandish situations.

“Razor Girl” Carl Hiaasen 
Alfred A Knopf 
September 6, 2016 in Hardcover
352 pages
His latest, “Razor Girl”, is a classic Hiassen setup. The dialogue somehow sounds believable even at its most deadpan hilarious, and the multi-pronged satire--of Florida, corrupt cops, bumbling criminals and, most exquisitely, the entertainment industry--is gentle but merciless. While it is nearly impossible to describe the plot of a Hiassen novel, this one begins when Merry Mansfield, the razor girl of the title, has teamed up with a thug named Zeto to rear-end shady Key West land developer Martin Trebeaux. But when Merry hits the wrong car things begin to spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page.

There’s Trebeaux, the owner of Sedimental Journeys–a company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another, Dominick “Big Noogie” Aeola, a NYC mafia capo with a taste for tropic-wear, Buck Nance, a Wisconsin accordionist who has rebranded himself as the star of a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren, a street psycho known as Blister who’s more Buck Nance than Buck could ever be, Brock Richardson, a Miami product-liability lawyer who’s getting dangerously–and deformingly–hooked on the very E.D. product he’s litigating against, and Andrew Yancy–formerly Detective Yancy, busted down to the Key West roach patrol after accosting his then-lover’s husband with a Dust Buster. Yancy believes that if he can singlehandedly solve a high-profile murder, he’ll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to Yancy’s future will be as surprising as anything else he encounters along the way–including the giant Gambian rats that are livening up his restaurant inspections.

““Razor Girl” is vintage Hiaasen, in the very best way: darkly funny, unapologetically crazy, and more Florida than a flamingo eating a Cuban sandwich while singing a Jimmy Buffett song. (The odds of that flamingo ending up as a character in a forthcoming Hiaasen book, by the way, are actually pretty good.) It might even inspire you to head to the Sunshine State. Just make sure you watch out for the Gambian pouched rats.” (NPR Book Review)

Hiaasen is also the author of several popular novels for young readers: “Hoot”, which won a Newbery Honor, “Flush”, “Scat” and, most recently, “Skink – No Surrender”, which introduces one of the wildest characters in his adult books to a teen audience.

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