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Beach bums, bimbos, and assorted other sordid schemers caper madly during a ludicrously festive week of jet-ski, powerboat, and stock-car racing in Daytona Beach. In his second outing, Palm Beach Post reporter Date (the paperback Final Orbit) essentially clones the darkly comic, over-the-top satires of Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen. Here, the fat, stupid, cravenly corrupt rich villain is J.R. “Nick” Van Horne, wealthy heir to three stock-car speedways, including Daytona’s. Nick can’t seem to get out from under the thumb of his shrewish, surgically enhanced stepmother, Joanna, who is not only younger than Nick but has her heart set on turning a few miles of pristine beachfront into a $120-million, racing-oriented theme park, financed by $80 million in illicitly diverted government funds. With the local newspaper and politicians in their pocket, the Van Horne family’s only obstacle is Nick’s estranged wife, Barbie, a preposterously sexy New Age airhead who sells slinky sports clothes from a boardwalk boutique. Convinced she was a sea turtle in a past life, Barbie leads a hapless crusade to have the beachfront permanently protected from off-road vehicles and any other kind of development. Because the Van Hornes don’t believe in divorce, Nick goes shopping for a contract killer and finds an assortment of oddballs willing to help him get rid of Barbie. Among them: Nick’s girlfriend, Amee, a bikini-clad poolroom hustler; Jamie, a hilariously inept beach bum who wants to be a race-car driver; Crawdad, a depraved biker who hopes to sell Barbie into slavery; and the enigmatic Romer, a demented, former state attorney whose best friend is a very hungry man-eating shark named Bruce. The one vaguely nice guy is Nick’s lawyer, Nolin, who ditches his client to become Barbie’s unlikely champion after a sudsy romp in her hot tub. A funny, fast-moving farce that revels in the sex, sleaze, and greed of wacky nincompoops driven mad by the Florida sun.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-399-14513-3
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1999


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