Friday, April 8, 2011

Book #25

Star Island, by Carl Hiaasen. Unabridged audio.

Early in his career, when he was still a reporter, Carl Hiaasen wrote a trio of thrillers with William D. Montalbano. After these, he turned his attentions to his solo works, which included trademark whacky characters and humorous situations. And I enjoyed all of those novels to one degree or another.

After writing a trio of YA novels (none of which I read), Hiassen has returned to his familiar territory of adult humor novels set in and around Miami. But this one falls short of its target. Very short.

The basic story is of a self-destructive Britney-style singer facing a career crisis, a photographer who is banking his career on capturing her in a compromising position, and the actress hired by the singer's family to impersonate her publicly when the singer finds herself in a compromised position. Many of Hiaasen's stable of characters appear, including the reclusive Skink. His scenes are the novel's strongest.

The key problem with this novel is that is far more sad than it is funny. I mentioned Hiaasen's early works because this one actually resembles them more closely than it resembles his later works, but this comparison is not intentional. The humor tends to be at the expense of the characters, who are more to be pitied than reviled. So the bad things that happen to them often feel less like deserved retribution, a balance that Hiaasen more successfully struck in many of his prior works.

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