SKIN TIGHT by Carl Hiaasen
Kirkus Star


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Note from Kirkus' Vintage Review Editor:

Maybe you’re heading to Florida for spring break. Warm breezes, beautiful (though fewer and fewer) natural wonders, and the slimiest collection of riffraff in the United States welcome all tourists in Carl Hiaasen’s world. A lifelong resident and lover of Florida, Hiaasen has written a dozen satirical crime thrillers that are original and, most importantly, hilarious. Take two or three to read on the beach and see if you aren’t howling with delight after 10 minutes. Start with his early novels Tourist Season, Double Whammy, and my favorite Skin Tight (about which our reviewer writes that Hiaasen reveals “sardonic marvels on nearly every page”). How can you resist? - Mike Hejny


Black-humored crime-novelist Hiaasen (Tourist Season, 1986; Double Whammy, 1987) tops himself here, exploding sardonic marvels on nearly every page--in an exceptionally inventive tale of a retired Florida cop and his run-ins with the weirdest villains this side of Batman. Former state investigator Mick Stranahan just wants to be left alone to fish and to feed his pet barracuda at his stilt house in Biscayne Bay. But when a Mafia hit-man shows up, Stranahan is forced to skewer him with the nose-sword of his stuffed marlin, and then to leave his hideaway to find out who wants him dead. The culprit: Dr. Rudy Graveline, a rich quack of a plastic surgeon who's trying to cover up his woman-slaughter, during a nose job four years earlier, of a patient--an old case of Stanahan's that's now being dug into, because of a tattling nurse, by Reynaldo Flemm (read Geraldo Rivera) of TV's hardhitting In Your Face. Meanwhile, Graveline sics a new killer on Stranahan: seven-foot-tall Chemo--he of the Rice Krispies complexion, legacy of a botched excision of ingrown nose hairs--who promptly loses his left hand to Stranahan's barracuda, but who ingeniously replaces it with a unique prosthesis, that gardener's delight, a Weed-Whacker. Stalked by Chemo, and now also by two bent cops, Stranahan turns to his shyster brother-in-law for a legal attack on Graveline--with hysterically disastrous results. And then there's the romantic front, as Chemo lumbers into something like love with that chatty nurse, and Stranahan, veteran of five whirlwind marriages, tries not to tall in love with Flemm's TV producer. Meanwhile, Flemm raids Graveline's clinic and dies at the hands of a liposuctioner--but all accounts are squared away when Chemo, assisted by Stranahan, performs a fatal nose job on Graveline. For all the wackiness, Hiaasen never loses control of his rambunctious story or characters, keeping his satire sharply focused and the suspense on full throttle. Great entertainment, Hiaasen's best.
Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1989
ISBN: 0425233499
Page count: 332pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1989

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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