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SKIN TIGHT by Carl Hiaasen Kirkus Star


by Carl Hiaasen

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1989
ISBN: 0425233499
Publisher: Putnam

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.