When Palmer Stoat notices the black pickup truck following him on the highway, he fears his precious Range Rover is about to be carjacked. But Twilly Spree, the man tailing Stoat, has vengeance, not sport-utility vehicles, on his mind. Idealistic, independently wealthy and pathologically short-tempered, Twilly has dedicated himself to saving Florida's wilderness from runaway destruction. He favors unambiguous political statements -- such as torching Jet-Skis or blowing up banks -- that leave his human targets shaken but re-educated. After watching Stoat blithely dump a trail of fast-food litter out the window, Twilly decides to teach him a lesson. Thus, Stoat's prized Range Rover becomes home to a horde of hungry dung beetles. Which could have been the end to it had Twilly not discovered that Stoat is one of Florida's cockiest and most powerful political fixers, whose latest project is the "malling" of a pristine Gulf Coast island. Now the real Hiaasen-variety fun begins . . . Dognapping eco-terrorists, bogus big-time hunters, a Republicans-only hooker, an infamous ex-governor who's gone back to nature, thousands of singing toads and a Labrador retriever greater than the sum of his Labrador parts -- these are only some of the denizens of Carl Hiaasen's outrageously funny new novel.
Florida muckraker Hiaasen once again produces a devilishly funny caper revolving around the environmental exploitation of his home state by greedy developers. When budding young ecoterrorist Twilly Spree begins a campaign of sabotage against a grotesque litterbug named Palmer Stoat, he gets much more than he bargained for. Stoat is a political fixer, involved with a bevy of shady types: Dick Artemus, ex-car salesman, now governor; Robert Clapley, a crooked land developer with an unhealthy interest in Barbie dolls; and his business expediter, Mr. Gash, a permed reptilian thug with ghastly musical tastes: "All morning he drove back and forth across the old bridge, with his favorite 911 compilation in the tape deck: Snipers in the Workplace, accompanied by an overdub of Tchaikowsky's Symphony No. 3 in D Major." After a wave of preemptive strikes centered on a garbage truck and a swarm of dung beetles, Twilly ups the ante and kidnaps both Palmer's dog and his wife, Desie, who finds Twilly a great deal more interesting than her slob of a husband. In doing so Twilly uncovers a conspiracy (well, more like business as usual) to jam a bill through the Florida legislature to develop Toad Island, a wildlife sanctuary, in a deal that will make a mint for all the politicos concerned. Chapley wants Twilly silenced and dispatches Mr. Gash. Palmer wants his wife and dog back and asks Dick Artemus to help in the rescue without derailing the bill. Who should be called upon but the good cop/bad psycho duo of Trooper Jim Tile and ex-Governor Clinton Tyree, aka Skink or the Captain, whose recurring appearances throughout Hiaasen's novels have made for hysterical farce. While there may be nothing laughable about unchecked environmental exploitation, Hiaasen has refined his knack for using this gloomy but persistent state of affairs as a prime mover for scams of all sorts. In Sick Puppy, he shows himself to be a comic writer at the peak of his powers. 200,000 first printing; first serial to Men's Journal; Literary Guild alternate; simultaneous audiobook. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 11, 2005
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Excerpt from Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen
After three glasses of wine, Desie could no longer pretend to be following her husband's account of the canned rhinoceros hunt. Across the table she appraised Palmer Stoat as if he were a mime. His fingers danced and his mouth moved, but nothing he said reached her ears. She observed him in two dimensions, as if he were an image on a television screen: an animated middle-aged man with a slight paunch, thin blond hair, reddish eyebrows, pale skin, upcurled lips and vermilion-splotched cheeks (from too much sun or too much alcohol). Palmer had a soft neck but a strong chiseled chin, the surgical scars invisible in the low light. His teeth were straight and polished, but his smile had a twist of permanent skepticism. To Desie, her husband's nose had always appeared too small for his face; a little girl's nose, really, although he insisted it was the one he'd been born with. His blue eyes also seemed tiny, though quick and bright with self-confidence. His face was, in the way of prosperous ex-jocks, roundish and pre-jowly and companionable. Desie wouldn't have called Stoat a hunk but he was attractive in that gregarious southern frat-boy manner, and he had overwhelmed her with favors and flattery and constant attention. Later she realized that the inexhaustible energy with which Palmer had pursued their courtship was less a display of ardor than an ingrained relentlessness; it was how he went after anything he wanted. They dated for four weeks and then got married on the island of Tortola. Desie supposed she had been in a fog, and now the fog was beginning to lift. What in the world had she done She pushed the awful question out of her mind, and when she did she was able to hear Palmer's voice again.