Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Crazy Characters, Zany Plot Enliven Hiaasen Novel; FICTION - BOOKS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Crazy Characters, Zany Plot Enliven Hiaasen Novel; FICTION - BOOKS

Article excerpt

Medicare fraud is a serious problem. And given Florida's density of old people, Medicare fraud is especially serious in that state.

Then again, if a book about Medicare fraud has Carl Hiaasen listed as its author, "serious" is an adjective that's out of place. Hiaasen writes comic novels set in his home state of Florida, and "Bad Monkey" is as comic as they come.

As the book opens, a tourist from Wisconsin has chartered a fishing boat and hauls in an unusual catch a human arm. Accident or murder?

The case attracts Andrew Yancy, a disgraced former police detective now making a living in the Florida Keys as a restaurant sanitation inspector. From there, the plot grows zanier and zanier yes, it involves Medicare fraud with long stretches given over to crazy characters, including the monkey of the title.

As usual in Hiaasen's stories, Florida itself plays a big part in the prose. At one point, he muses, "The typical Key West murder is a drunken altercation over debts, dope or dance partners. …

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