My friend Krista G. let me borrow Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen, her fiance’s favorite author. I’ve seen Hiaasen’s books before but never found the covers or titles appealing, which makes sense because his novels seem to be written more for men than women. Skinny Dip was as much a satire as a mystery and it left me wishing it was more mystery than satire.
The novel centers around marine biologist Chaz Perrone, a cheater/liar/jerk, who throws his beautiful/rich/smart wife Joey off a cruise ship. Unbeknownst to Chaz, Joey survives the fall and hides out on an island with Mick Stanahan, an ex-cop, while plotting her revenge and trying to figure out why Chaz tried to kill her. In the meantime, Chaz goes back to work as a “marine scientist,” taking water samples as part of a cover up for Sam “Red” Hammernut’s company that’s polluting the Everglades. He also removes all reminders of Joey from his life and continues sleeping with other women, like he did while she was alive. But with Mick’s help, Joey manages to keep an eye on Chaz and send him some messages from the grave, while piecing together why he killed her.
After Joey’s disappearance, Red assigns Chaz a bodyguard named Tool, my favorite character. He’s huge and so hairy that people think he’s a bear, and he has a bullet stuck in his arse and is addicted to fentanyl patches that he steals from local hospitals or nursing homes. Yet he’s the most endearing character in the book. This should give you a hint of just how ridiculous this book is. If intelligent, witty humor is your thing, then you’ll love Hiaasen. But I couldn’t stomach just how far-fetched the characters and circumstances were. The plot I described may not even be too far-fetched, but what happens as the book evolves is over the top.
Overall, Hiaasen’s writing is definitely smart and entertaining, and it got me through a drive to and from Philadelphia. But I think Skinny Dip is better suited for guys, who might appreciate the humor more than I did.