Carl Hiaasen is, without a doubt, the most reliable humorous writer I've ever found. His wicked sense of irony, crazy wacked out characters, and social satire combine to make me laugh and think simultaneously. His latest, Star Island, stands up to his best previous novels, now at twelve and counting. He's also written children's fiction and some non-fiction. I'm looking forward to reading his golf book and the one he wrote about Disney called Team Rodent. Hiaasen's usual theme's are found in this hilarious romp through the celebrity-soaked world of Miami Beach and environs: the emptiness of popular culture, the corruption of politics, the despoilation of Florida's natural beauty, and the evil of rapacious real estate developers. Reader's of Hiaasen's previous books are familiar with these themes and the author's genuine anger at what has been done to the state he loves combining with his knack for creating grotesque characters who rub up against ones you care about to create a wacky, but strangely believable, comic world.
All of Hiaasen's novels are stand-alone efforts, but one of his most lovable and strange characters makes a return appearance in Star Island. Former Florida governor Clinton Tyree, elected many years as a reform candidate and driven to madness by the combination of his experiences as a Vietnam vet and his disillusion at the depth of depraved corruption he experiences in the state's political system. After abruptly resigning, he disappears, only to reappear in several of the books as the seemingly deranged Skink, a one-eyed, swamp rat who lives on road kill and finds it nearly impossible to function in modern society. The sadness of his quest is lightened by the quirky solutions he devises to right the wrongs in society.
Carl Hiassen has been a reporter at the Miami Herald since 1976. He spent several years doing investigative journalism specializing in environmental and development issues before becoming a regular columnist. In recent years his column has appeared weekly in the Herald. As with many fine humorists, Hiaasen has serious ends in mind while managing to remain almost endlessly entertaining. Also, as with much humor reading, I wouldn't recommend reading his books one right after the other. Rather, allow some time between books to let the previous one settle out before starting the next. That having been said, however, he maintains a remarkably high level of performance between books. In Star Island Hiaasen is at the top of his game.
Star Island is published by Knopf and sells in hard cover for $26.95. It's available in trade paperback, e-book format, and as a recorded book. Support your local independent book store.