POWDER BURN by Carl Hiaasen


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The cocaine traffic in Miami--convincingly, tautly fictionalized by two Miami Herald reporters. Architect T. Christopher Meadows meets an old flame on a Miami street with her daughter, but within minutes sees them both killed by a car whose driver is then machine-gunned by a hood from a second car; and Chris himself is shot through the leg. What's going on? Well, Capt. Octavio Nelson, a Cuban-American on the Narcotics Squad, warns Chris in the hospital that Miami is in a drug war between the Cubans and Colombians for control of the coke trade. And it soon becomes clear that the killer-hood--one Mono--is out to erase eyewitness (and gifted portrait sketch artist) Chris, who's almost electrocuted in his swimming pool. Eventually, then, there's a showdown--with Mono himself fatally wounded as Chris turns the killer's knife back. But when Capt. Nelson tracks down poor Chris--now a murderer and fugitive--he offers him an out: Nelson will get Chris off the hook if he goes to Mono's funeral and draws pictures later of Mono's two fellow hoods and of the mysterious el Jefe, chief of the Cuban ring. Chris does this and finds that el Jefe is actually Jose Bermudez, swank banker for the drug trade philanthropist, and likely political candidate for mayor. Now deserted by Nelson, Chris goes underground, joins the drug trade, steals a pound of coke from a fancy dealer, and sets Jose up for a drug bust by Nelson. . . just as Jose is cementing a business pact with the Colombian drug chief. Good, solid underworld melodrama--with some especially authentic touches in the police work (a morgue scene is a standout) and the trafficking.
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0375700684
Page count: 292pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1981

Kirkus Interview
Carl Hiaasen
author of RAZOR GIRL
November 7, 2016

In Razor Girl, Carl Hiaasen’s new novel, when Lane Coolman's car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but. Behind the wheel of the other car is Merry Mansfield—the eponymous Razor Girl—and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that 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…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. “How can Hiaasen possibly tie together all this monkey business in the end?” our reviewer asks in a starred review. “His delirious plotting is so fine-tuned that preposterous complications that would strain lesser novelists fit right into his antic world. Relax, enjoy, and marvel anew at the power of unbridled fictional invention.” View video >


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