6/28/17

Razor Girl a Good Reason to Cut the Hiassen Habit

RAZOR GIRL (2016)
By Carl Hiassen
Knopf, 333 pages.

If it’s set in South Florida; its characters include crooked businessmen, sleazy lawyers, Mafiosi, assorted lowlifes and dirt bags; and there are more drugs than CVS and Walgreens combined, it must be a Carl Hiassen novel. Is this formula growing tiresome? Yes it is.

Hiassen’s latest adds a few twists, including a redneck TV show clearly patterned on Duck Dynasty and a titular character whose talent is, shall we say, unique: a stunning redheaded femme fatale con artist whose talent is to set up shakedowns by bumping her car into the back of other vehicles whilst pretending to having lost her concentration during the act of shaving her crotch in preparation for a hot date. As her victims gawk at her panty-less womanly splendor, they become easy marks for awaiting muscle. Call it pubes for rubes. Her assumed name is—hey, don’t blame me—Merry Mansfield. And that’s not the worst of it.

This novel unfolds when Merry’s mark is Lane Coolman, a high-powered Hollywood talent agent in charge of Buck Nance, the lead bozo in Bayou Brethren, who is in Key West to do a stand-up gig. Buck's persona is a ruse as he and his brothers are about as Cajun as an Eskimo Pie; they were once an accordion band in their native Wisconsin. One part of the act is true, though: Buck isn’t very bright. Without Coolman to tell him what to do on stage, Buck stays in his TV character and proceeds to tell a bunch of racist and homophobic jokes—definitely not a cool thing to do in Key West. The audience rushes the stage and Buck flees for his life. But to where? He is helpless without his handler and manages to lose his wallet and his wits in his desperate flight. America’s top-rated TV star is soon a missing person.

Sound like promising premises? Let’s toss in a guy who worships Buck for telling it like it is: the even more dimwitted Benny “The Blister” Krill. Add Martin Trebeaux, the shyster head of a company called Sedimental Journeys, which specializes in stealing sand to rebuild washed-out beaches; a Mafia don named Dominic “Big Noogie” Aeola; and a lowlife product liability lawyer, Brock Richardson, who has problems. The first is that he wants to build a sprawling McMansion on land that would block the view of our putative hero, Andrew Yancy, who Hiassen readers met in Bad Monkey. Yancy was once a detective, but has lost the badge he desperately wishes to regain. He’s temporarily working as a health inspector in charge of lifting the licenses of filthy local restaurants, though lord knows standards are pretty damn low. So are Yancy’s morals, hard as he tries to reform. If only sleaze balls like Richardson wouldn’t mess with his view, or his fiancé Deborah wouldn’t knock on Yancy’s door and offer a blowjob for help finding the $200,000 engagement ring she lost. I almost forgot to mention that Richardson also suffers the affects of one of the products for which he recovered millions for clients—one that’s like Viagra times a thousand and causes potentially dangerous erections, strong body odor, and penis-shaped skin tags to grow in the armpits. Deborah would leave the idiot, but the sex is phenomenal.

Somehow, Yancy and Mansfield will resolve all of this. Believe me when I say that the things I’ve mentioned are not the only absurdities in the story. There are nine-pound rats, strange tattoos, dubious archaeological finds, a spurned mistress, and one of the most preposterous hostage demands you’ll ever set eyes on. Except, I strongly suggest you don’t. I am aware that no one reads Hiassen having mistaken his name for that of Flaubert. I also confess to having consumed a few of his books like a naughty boy who has stolen a package of Oreos. There comes a time, though, when one must clean out the kitchen. In Razor Girl, Hiassen flunks his literary health inspection and I’m shutting him down—even if Yancy won’t.

Rob Weir

 

     

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