Now that the Florida real-estate market has gone bust, the insatiable bottom-feeders circle a hilariously untalented starlet, everyone looking for a piece of her before she too crashes and burns.
Cherry Pye—or “the former Cheryl Bunterman,” as Hiaasen calls her—has been in the public eye for half of her 22 years. All that media exposure has taught her some valuable lessons. She knows that she has a natural right to have everyone else dance attendance on her; she knows how to score every drug on the planet and how to mix them with piquant results; and she’s even learning how to lip-synch the lyrics a less scarifying vocal artist has supplied for her second comeback album, Skantily Klad. Cherry’s circle of hangers-on can’t match her impervious innocence. Her botoxed twin publicists, Lucy and Lila Lark, are constantly cooking up new schemes without revealing them to her. Unbeknownst to her, her parents have long engaged savvy actress Ann DeLuisa to act as her “undercover stunt double,” circulating among her wide-eyed public when she’s indisposed, and decoying paparazzi like Bang Abbott, whose Pulitzer Prize is just a tad tarnished. Her pederast promoter Maury Lykes has hired her a new bodyguard, Chemo, whose ideas about cutting himself in for a bigger slice of the action are as inventive as his anatomy (his severed hand has been replaced by a prosthetic weedwhacker). When Bang, whose improbable mile-high hookup with Cherry has given him stratospheric dreams of his own, carjacks Ann out from under Chemo’s nose under the impression that she’s Cherry, and Ann begs Skink, the homeless ex–Florida governor who’s sweet on her, to come to her rescue, the plot may seem to be boiling over. In the hands of a master farceur like Hiaasen (Nature Girl, 2006, etc.), however, the major hijinks are just beginning.
Clueless celebrities and criminal paparazzi provide the perfect match and the perfect metaphor for contemporary public culture. And you never know which sentences are going to end with a back flip.