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Double Whammy - Carl Hiaasen As he pushed past the screen door, Decker was amazed by what he saw: books. Every wall had raw pine shelves to the ceiling, and every shelf was lined with books. The east wall was for classic fiction: Poe, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, Mark Twain, Jack London, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, even Boris Pasternak. The west wall for political biographies: Churchill, Sandburg’s Lincoln, Hitler, Huey Long, Eisenhower, Joseph McCarthy, John F. Kennedy, even Robert Caro’s Lyndon Johnson, though it looked like a book-club edition. The south wall was exclusively for reference books: the Britannica, Current Biography, the Florida Statutes, even the Reader’s Guide. to Periodic Literature. This was the wall of the shack that leaned so precipitously, and now Decker knew why: it held the heaviest books.
“What’re you staring at?” Skink demanded.
“These are great books,” Decker said.
“No Shit.”

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You too can have your own Florida shack. You just have to find one that isn’t occupied.

Skink is a man who has climbed to the pinnacle of power only to plunge to the depths of a swampy existence in a shack... a shack listing from the weight of books. If I did need to live in a shack that would certainly be the shack for me. I’ve always owned “too many books” and when I used to live in apartments I always worried about the subflooring, whether the support joists were up to code because the walls of my apartment were always lined with bookshelves not just full of books, but bulging with books. I often said a prayer for the poor bastard who lived below me.

Skink does not pay taxes.

”My name is Decker.”
“You from the IRS?” The man’s voice was deep and wet, like mud sliding down a drain.
“No,” Decker said.
“I pay no taxes,” Skink said. He was wearing a rainhat, though it wasn’t raining. He was also wearing sunglasses and the sun was down. “I pay no attention to taxes,” Skink asserted. “Not since Nixon, the goddamn thief.”

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Tasty!?!? best when fresh.

Skink eats roadkill.

Skink used to be governor of Florida.

Skink is a bit unhinged.

R. J. Decker is your typical down and out private investigator, who used to have a great job shooting pictures for a newspaper until something happened and he ended up in jail. Now he takes what jobs he can get and when Dennis Gault shows up offering stupid money ($50,000) to catch Dickie Lockhart cheating at a Bass Fishing Tournament, Decker is reeled in. There is big money in Bigmouth Bass fishing. This might have been the beginning of reality TV. (Can it be stopped via time machine?) As one character says in the book, “you mean grown men will sit around all day to watch another man fish.”

It seems like people will sit around all day watching people do just about anything.

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Now when you catch a really big ‘un they call them HAWGS.

Now I don’t fish, I’ve tried it all different ways. Well not Marlin fishing, which I have a feeling is the penultimate exhilarating Hemingwayesque fishing experience. The whole time I’m fishing I always feel like I’d much rather be doing something else like praying on my knees on a cold, uneven, cobblestone floor, catching flies with chopsticks, or separating chaff from wheat one golden kernel at a time. Did I mention I don’t fish? So some people might be like me and don’t care to read a book about Bigmouth Bass fishing. You may not feel like Bobby Clinch. ”Guys like Clinch love to catch bass more than they love to screw. You put ‘em on a good bass lake at dawn and they get hard.”

Forget the damn fish. This is Hiaasen we’re talking about here. It is all about the cast of supporting characters.

There is a preacher, well a man who preaches, named Charles Weeb. He has a penchant for prostitutes, fake healings, and screwing people out of every dime he can.

”How much do I owe you?” he asked the lap dancer.
“Nothing, father.” She sounded confused. “I brought my own money.”
“What for?” Weeb looked down; he couldn’t see her face, just the top of her head and the smooth slope of her naked back.
“I got a favor to ask,” the lap dancer said, whispering into his chest hair. “And I wanna pay for it.”
“What on earth are you talking about?”
“I want you to heal my poppa.” She looked up shyly. “He’s got the gout, my poppa does.”
“No child--”
“Some days he can’t barely get himself out of bed.”
Weeb shifted restlessly, glancing at his wristwatch.
“I’ll give you two hundred dollars.” the girl declared.
“You’re serious?”
“Just one little prayer, please.”
“Two hundred bucks?”
“And a hum job, if you want it, Father.”
Charlie Weeb stared at her, thinking: It’s true what they say about the power of television.
“Come, child,” he said softly, “let’s pray.”

There are stoned hijackers. ”Every pillhead fugitive felon in America winds up in Florida eventually. The Human Sludge Factor--it all drips to the South.”

There is an enforcer with the teeth of a dead pitbull buried in his arm. He named the dog, well the head, Lucas.

There are controversies over bird species. ”The purported reason for the sale was the unfortunate death (from either sexual frustration or old age?) of the only remaining Karp’s Seagrape sparrow, the species for whom the verdant preserve had first been established. With the last rare bird dead, the cabinet reasoned, why continue to tie up perfectly good waterfront.”

Now a theme that is prevalent through all Carl Hiaasen books is the raping of the Florida environment. He shows the devastation through the murky lense of black humor, but you will not come away from his books thinking that Florida developers and Florida politicians are cool guys.

There is seduction.

”In his mind’s eye he could see himself in this cheesy scene out of a cheap detective movie; acting like the gruff cad, awkwardly consoling the weepy long-legged knockout, knowing deep down he ought to play it as the tough guy but feeling compelled to show this warm sensitive side. Decker knew he was a fool but he certainly didn’t feel like letting go of Lanie Gault. There was something magnetic and comforting and entirely natural about holding a sweet-smelling woman in a silken nightie on a strange bed in a strange motel room in a strange town where neither one of you belonged.”

There are LIONS humping LLAMAS. Grab your pitchfork!

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Carl I am still laughing and wincing with you.

Ok so Hiaasen is over the top. The terms zany, caustic, surreal, punchy, and colorful have been used to describe his books. They are humorous. You will find yourself laughing out loud quickly followed by a touch of guilt, and the words “that just ain’t right”. I first read Hiaasen back in the late 1980s and I’ve read him off and on ever since. This is probably a three star book, but at the end of a lazy Sunday afternoon I was so sated from laughing, giggling, and chortling that I have to bump it up to four. #Not the best gift for a redneck as they all seem to end up dead or missing body parts.