Monday, July 24, 2017

Review of Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen (Sphere, 2016)

Merry Mansfield has a novel approach to snaring victims – she bumps their car from behind; when they approach after she has her skirt up, panties down and a razor in hand, and she persuades them to give her a lift to her destination, where her mob-connected partner and their fate awaits. On the way down the Florida Keys she prangs and lifts the wrong guy setting in motion a chain of unfortunate events. Lane Coolman is Hollywood agent; his main celebrity star is Buck Nance, the head of a redneck family reality show called Bayou Brethren. Buck is booked for a celebrity appearance in Key West, but without Coolman to shepherd him, he tells a couple of homophobic and racist jokes then flees when the audience turn nasty. Buck is alone, lost, paranoid, and a day later declared missing. Andrew Yancy is a former cop turned health inspector. Finding Buck might be his meal ticket back to a badge. But Yancy has other problems, including a partner who has fled to Norway for a better life, a new neighbour who has lost $200K diamond ring in the lot next to his house and wants to build a monstrous new vacation home, giant Gambian rats plaguing local restaurants, and a red-head named Merry who seems to have taken a shine to him. Finding Buck proves to be a bigger challenge that expected, leading to encounters with an unscrupulous businessman, a crooked lawyer, a Mob boss, and a lunatic redneck.

Razor Girl is the latest instalment of Hiaasen’s comic crime capers set in Florida. This outing takes place in the Florida Keys, mostly in the town of Key West. As usual, a fairly large cast of larger-than-life characters swirl round each other as mayhem unfolds driven by foolishness, misunderstanding, greed, and lust, revealing the absurdities of much of American life. In this case, the latter include celebrity and reality TV, excessive fandom, environmental vandalism, organized crime, and novel approaches to ensnaring victims.  It’s all fairly shallow, with Hiaasen focusing on keeping the action moving. The result is a tale that zips along with barely a dull moment, but one where the characters are pretty one-dimensional and lack substance. I found that I just didn’t care about any of them, and the multiple, intersecting plot lines meant I didn’t really care what happened either. And rather than being laugh-out-loud funny, the humour was light. As such, while I enjoyed the read, a few days later and it’s already fading from memory. And that’s okay: much like that the book parodies, the tale was light and disposable entertainment.

No comments: