Carl Hiaasen's latest revisits his favorite themes 

Bad Monkey, Great Reading

With 23 books under his belt, Carl Hiaasen really needs no introduction, but here's a quick one anyway. Hiaasen is a South Florida native with strong ties to his state's unique, swampy environment, and it shows in his mystery books. Often, the writer's villains commit some sort of crime against the natural world in addition to any they perpetrate against their fellow humans, and the heroes, well, they're the ones who know how to sit back and enjoy a Florida sunset.

Bad Monkey is no different. This fun, funny crime novel deals with disgraced Miami policeman Andrew Yancy, who lives on Big Pine Key and spends his days drinking, trying to get his badge back, and vandalizing a massive spec mansion that's being built next to his modest abode. When a tourist on a fishing charter reels in a human arm — in fact, this is what opens the book, and it's a pretty effective hook — Yancy is drawn back into his police work, albeit on an unofficial basis. The arm leads him down a road that includes a suspicious widow, Medicare fraud, a sexy coroner, and a grossly bizarre voodoo queen from the Bahamas, not to mention the titular bad monkey.

All in all, it's a perfect summer read — there's a beautiful tropical setting, eco-destroying developers getting their comeuppance, love, sex, and alcohol, all in the service of an enjoyable mystery with stakes that are high enough to keep you interested, but not high enough to raise your blood pressure.


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