three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
12-Sept-Oct-2004
By: 
Carl Hiaasen
user_rating: 
0
A-SkinnyDipWhen good-for-nothing marine biologist Chaz Perrone throws his heiress wife, Joey, overboard from a cruise ship off the coast of Florida, his motives are simple. He thinks that Joey, like him, is in cahoots with a corrupt vegetable tycoon, Red Hammernut, who’s poisoning the Everglades with his plantation runoff. But Joey, a former champion swimmer, paddles to safety—and into the arms of retired cop Mick Stranahan (who last appeared in 1989’s Skin Tight). But she’s very, very angry. With the help of Stranahan, a meddling detective, and a beach bum, she vows to get even—and to make Chaz’s life very, very miserable.
Knopf. 354 pages. $24.95.
ISBN: 0375411089

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"… a screwball delight so full of bright, deft, beautifully honed humor that it places Mr. Hiaasen in the company of Preston Sturges, Woody Allen and S. J. Perelman. … Best among [the screwballs] is the goon named Tool, who will be fondly remembered for stealing pain-killer patches from elderly cancer patients but still seeming like a guy with a heart of gold." Janet Maslin

Orlando Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Skinny Dip is another intricately plotted, hilarious and thoughtful tale drawn from Hiaasen’s favorite subject: the salvation of his native Florida. … Though his books are often classified as mysteries, Hiaasen’s writing, like that of fellow Florida novelist Michael Connelly, rises high above that or any other genre." William McKeen

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"Virtually no one has been immune to Hiaasen’s biting satire: politicians, developers, rapacious agribusiness, rednecks, purveyors in the sex trade and dimwitted tourists. … Hiaasen may have lost a bit of the anger, but–rest assured–he’s in the best of humors for this latest." Peter Mergendahl

Plain Dealer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Once again, he wields his humor in a laugh-so-you-don’t-cry battle against the endless corrupt attacks on his beloved state. It’s a testament to Hiaasen’s talent that he can maintain his freshness and control after 10 novels—even if he may bemoan the fact that he’ll probably never run short of material." Michele Ross

Baltimore Sun 3 of 5 Stars
"The anecdotes soar to heights of absurdity–so imaginative and unexpected that one can’t help to suspend disbelief. … The tale is set against a tantalizingly substantive backdrop—the $8 billion federal and state project to restore the Everglades. But Hiaasen doesn’t make use of it." Annie Linskey

Critical Summary

For two decades, Florida native Hiaasen has mined the seamy side of the Sunshine State. In his eleventh novel, he once again draws on his intricate knowledge of Florida’s cultural and natural landscape to weave together absurd, oddball characters (the hirsute "protector" Tool in particular) and an even more ludicrous plot. It’s entertainment galore—but, like Hiaasen’s previous novels, it comments strongly on environmental devastation and eco-justice. A few critics complain that the author doesn’t fully exploit the possibilities of his set-up—a large-scale government project to restore the Everglades. The pat ending, too, leaves something to be desired. Still, in his best form, Hiaasen provides "entertainment with an emotional punch" (Orlando Sentinel).