John Gustafson's Reviews > Sick Puppy

Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen
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's review
Oct 01, 2009

it was ok
Read in September, 2009

Sick Puppy is my introduction to Carl Hiaasen, an author that my girlfriend felt would be a good way to get me introduced to Florida. I'll probably read him again, although I found this book to be one of diminishing returns. It starts out as a satisfying read; Twilly Spree is a maladjusted and overgrown trust fund kid who gets to live out a popular revenge fantasy: he spots a litterbug on the Florida highway and decides to spend as much time and energy as possible to teach the litterbug a lesson. Twilly has had "anger management" problems in the past, to the extent that he's spend some time in the proverbial Rubber Room, but it so happens that this litterbug is to become one of his greatest antagonists: he is Palmer Stoat, a graduate of the Universal School of Archetypes with summa cum laude honors in Lobbying. And Stoat's current pursuit has to do with the despoiling of one of the few untouched islands off the Florida coast.

Environmentalism is, of course, one of Hiasaan's major passions, and he demonstrates a lot of knowledge about why the state of American development today is as corrupt and outrageous as it is. But once the novel goes beyond the initial game of petty and funny strikes and retaliations and opens its canvas to a battle over whether or not the despoiling of said island will successfully take place, the revenge fantasy is both too good to be true and much too long in its execution. Worse, Hiassan's characters tend to wear their Outrageousness on their sleeves, and certain jokes that would connect in passing--a survivalist ex-Governor, a hitman who listens to tapes of absurdly tragic 911 calls, a developer whose Barbie fetish has led him to dangerous games with Eastern European models and plastic surgery--become tiresome once we spend more than a few scenes with the same characters and the same quirks. Still, the sheer volume of characters, some of whom switch allegiances, makes for a certain amount of suspense in the plotting and pleasure in seeing What Happens Next. The book just isn't half as sick as it imagines itself to be.
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05/27/2016 marked as: read

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