Open your freezer. You might expect to find an assortment of items, but somewhere between the popsicles and mixed vegetables is an unlikely one — a severed human arm. Unless you are Jeffrey Dahmer, it is not exactly your typical protein of choice. The owner of said fridge, Andrew Yancy, is no cannibal, but rather begrudgingly requested to store the appendage.
The ridiculous but enjoyable adventure that ensues following this opening scene establishes Carl Hiaasen’s latest novel, “Bad Monkey,” a satirical whodunit that is, quite literally, a bit fishy.
The novel follows protagonist Yancy, a former Miami cop, who, as a result of a major blunder with a vacuum hose, loses his badge and is downgraded to a health inspector. Fortunately for Yancy, he loves trouble, and trouble loves him. No matter how dull his new job title may seem, danger follows him everywhere.
“A clawing heat settles over the Keys by mid-July. The game fish swim to deeper waters, the pelicans laze in the mangroves and only the hardiest of tourists remain outdoors past the lunch hour. Yancy’s unmarked Ford was well air-conditioned but he still brought a box of Popsicles, which he positioned beside the disjoined limb in the cooler on the passenger side.”
After helping former co-worker and Sheriff of Monroe County Sonny Summers with the lone arm fished out of the southern Florida coast, Yancy soon realizes that the boating mishap is far from accidental. His suspicion that the disjoined arm is not a simple case of drowning meets shark supper leads him down a twisting path chock-full of suspense, voodoo, deception, murder, and, of course, a very bad monkey.
Hiaasen offers a comically colorful cast of major and minor characters, including a multitude of female interests whom all seem to share a love-hate relationship with Yancy. Yancy no doubt grounds the work with his concrete analytical skills and persistence to solve the case. In addition to the plot, as a native Floridian, Hiaasen has captured the landscape vividly — down to the soggy torture that is summer and its diverse marine population — making a seemingly outrageous story almost believable.
Even considering Yancy’s suspension from the police department, he manages to uphold his former position to serve and protect. As a result, his superior instinct not only leads him to the killer, but also gives him the opportunity to mend his past wrongdoing. Like many of Hiaasen’s adult novels, the bad are punished and the good are always redeemed.
‘Bad Monkey’ by Carl Hiaasen Rating: W W W V