26 Jan 2013

"Skinny Dip" by Carl Hiaasen

Chaz Perrone is a douchebag, this is clear from the first page of Carl Hiaasen's "Skinny Dip" where aforementioned Mr. Perrone's wife is taking a headfirst, involuntary dive from a cruiseship into the ocean. Having somehow gotten in the way of her husband's plan, Joey Perrone finds herself thrown overboard in a pretty callous attempt at her life and as she hits the waves, she's not sure how she will manage to survive for long enough to swim ashore. With the help of fury, swim training and a bale of pot from Jamaica, she clings to life and finds herself being rescued by illegal drugs and a gruff lonesome ex-cop living a life of solitude on a small island off the Florida coast.

Although furious with Chaz for his deceit, Joey is in no way ready to go to the police, instead she wants to take revenge. No turning the cheek for this scorned woman who enrolls her rescuer, Mick, to help her get back at Chaz. She's not out to kill him, just drive him crazy enough to get him to admit exactly why he wanted her dead. 

"Skinny Dip" is a hilarious story of an avenging angel (Joey) who armed with a gold AmEx, Italian shoes and with a somewhat reluctant but very competent companion in tow (Mick) sets out to destroy the life of her hopeless husband. 

This is my second Hiaasen novel and it was even funnier than my first ("Star Island", reviewed earlier this month) and the strength is in the characters: 

Joey is the American dream, the girl next door. She has inherited a vast fortune but has earmarked it for charity and her only extravagance is a bit of clothes and Italian shoes. She's a clever, capable, big hearted and a little naive blonde who is hard not to love. Somehow she reminded me of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse - one of those girls that you would love to hang out with. 

Mick is a real man and a real loner. Not in touch with his feelings in any way whatsoever, he has several failed marriages behind him and prefers the company of his dog. 

Chaz is ... indescribably annoying. A biologist with no respect for nature at all, he will happily sell his soul, his wife and his dignity for money. He is an inexcusable playboy who is guided by his genitals in all matters where he is not guided by money. Yes, there is very little to recommend him apart from his good looks and he his the perfect (if somewhat dumb) villain. 

It is these three characters, along with a range of minor characters, that makes "Skinny Dip" work. That and the many plot twists and these characters will have you laughing out loud and maybe read half the night (like I did) because it simply is a hoot. 


  1. I read this a few years ago and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it - I've read 2 or 3 of Hiaasen's books now, and I really like the style of them (and the way he weaves in some of the environmental concerns around the Everglades and Florida, too). Nice review!

  2. Thanks Kit! Yes, I'm really enjoying his style, it's very entertaining!! and the I'm with you on the environmental aspects.