Andrew Yancy’s life in the Florida Keys as a disgraced detective now on restaurant varmint patrol may not be his ideal life, but it is great fun for readers. In Razor Girl, Carl Hiaasen’s latest hilarious adventure, Yancy finds himself plagued by Gambian pouched rats, an Italian mafioso, television agents, an exceptionally randy personal injury lawyer and his money-hungry fiancee, the patriarch of a reality t.v. clan of faux backwoodsmen, and a woman who intentionally causes automobile wrecks while shaving her bikini area. Yancy does not live a boring life.
And Hiaasen does not write a boring book. Razor Girl is a rock and roll, non-stop, occasionally out-of-control festival of a book.
On the first day of February, sunny but cold as a frog’s balls, a man named Lane Coolman stepped off a flight at Miami International, rented a mainstream Buick and headed south to meet a man in Key West. He nearly made it.
Twenty-seven miles from Coolman’s destination, an old green Firebird bashed his car from behind. The impact failed to trigger the Buick’s airbags, but Coolman heard the rear bumper dragging. He steered off the highway and dialed 911. In the mirror he saw the Firebird, its grille crimped and steaming, pull onto the shoulder. Ahead stood a sign that said: “Ramrod Key.”
Coolman went to check on the other driver, a woman in her mid-thirties with red hair.
“Super-duper sorry,” she said.
What the hell happened?”
“Just a nick. Barely bleeding.”She held her phone in one hand and a disposable razor in the other.
“Are you out of your mind?” said Coolman.
The driver’s jeans and panties were bunched around her knees. She’d been shaving herself when she smashed Coolman’s rental car.
“I got a date,” she explained.
“You couldn’t take care of that at home?”
“No way! My husband would get so pissed.”
“Unreal,” said Coolman.
The woman was wearing a maroon fleece jacket and rhinestone flip-flops. On her pale thigh was the razor mark.
The novel (classified by its publisher as Suspense/Thriller, which I suppose is accurate but I’d add comedy to the categorization) begins when Merry Mansfield crashes into Hollywood agent Lane Coolman’s car. Coolman is fleeing an expensive California divorce and is on his way to a “performance” by his most lucrative client, Buck Nance patriarch of reality t.v.’s Bayou Brethren. Unfortunately, Coolman is mistaken for a sand con artist and abducted leading to Nance’s disappearance.
Somehow these colorful individuals become involved with roach patrol detective Yancy, a loathsome couple who want to build a MacMansion beside Yancy’s plot of Keys heaven, a Mafioso and his service dog, John, and various and assorted other nuts and characters.
I don’t like: I love Carl Hiaasen. And I’m not sure if it’s because I love the snarky, jaded,
narcissistic, beach-loving, flawed characters of his or if it’s because of his zippy language or simply because he’s a journalist-turned successful novelist and I want to be him when I grow up. He wrote Strip Tease, Bad Monkey and Lucky You, among many others, during his time off (one supposes) from writing a column and reporting for The Miami Herald. http://carlhiaasen.com/bio.shtml Incidentally, the Miami Herald is also the part-time home of another of my favorite writers, Dave Barry.
In Razor Girl, Hiaasen skewers just about everything and everyone, including the Bayou Brethren fan base of “patriotic Americans” who think a gun, a flag and a wall will save America.
For the dead of winter, it’s the sunniest book imaginable. I highly recommend.
My menu for a Razor Girl bookclub (despite Yancy’s job as a restaurant inspector, I would serve food) would include:
Hummus (no diamonds included)
Cuban Sandwiches, with Chicken
Key Lime Pie — whipped cream is mandatory! Epicurious.com says this recipe won their internal contest for best key lime pie ever: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/best-key-lime-pie-recipe-article
Of course, Jimmy Buffett would be appropriate. Or some Cuban tunes. The soundtrack from Hiaasen’s Strip Tease is available. You could add AC/DC’s Razor’s Edge, if you like that kind of thing.