Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen
04/02/07, The Sunday Telegraph
Honey Santana, heroine of Carl Hiaasen’s eleventh novel, Nature Girl, is fired up with an idealism that borders on the insane: she wants to cleanse the world of rudeness, indifference, and telemarketers who ring in the middle of dinner and abuse prospective clients when the conversation does not go their way. She is also borderline bipolar disorder sufferer, hears strange, clashing rock and pop tunes in her head, and is clinically compulsive-obsessive. She wants to teach lowlife Boyd Shreave, of Relentless Inc, a lesson, so she inveigles him, and his reluctant mistress, the six-foot tall Eugenie Fonda, with the spurious offer of a free holiday in the Thousand Islands of Florida.
Unknown to her, Honey is being pursued by her fixated, perverted and utterly deranged ex-employer, Louis Piejack, who has just had the fingers of one of his hands bitten off by stone-crabs then accidentally sewn on to the wrong knuckles in a surgical mishap. Despite firing Honey from her job for taking a hammer to his testicles – a consequence of trying to grope her at work – he cannot get over his unbridled lust for her. Meanwhile, Boyd Shreave’s wife, Lily, has set private investigator, Dealey, to follow him around in his philandering and obtain ever more explicit shots of what he does with Eugenie; the superficial reason being a cast-iron case at the imminent divorce proceedings (about which Boyd is ignorant) but Dealey realises that Lily gets off on visual evidence of her husband having sex with another woman.
Fry, Honey’s son, alerts his father, Perry Skinner (Honey’s ex-husband), that she is going off on a mysterious kayaking tour of the Thousand Islands with two strangers. Alarm bells start ringing when he catches Louis Piejack chasing his mother in a truck, with a sawed-off shotgun by his side, so Perry and Fry set out on a rescue mission. All paths collide in mosquito-infested Dismal Key, but that island now holds two other specimens from Hiaasen’s delicious bestiary: a half-blood Seminole Indian, Sammy Tigertail, significantly unmoored from reality, and not the sharpest tool in the box, and Gillian, relentlessly loquacious willing hostage of Sammy.
Lowlifes don’t get much lower than the ones who populate Hiaasen’s novels. And the alien invasion has really happened: the place is Florida. Read, embarrass yourself in public by laughing yourself to near-apoplexy, then sign up for the ‘Declare Hiaasen an International Treasure’ league. Its members are legion.