No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Friday, February 12, 2010

2010/12: Lucky You -- Carl Hiaasen

Grange, which initally had impressed Squires as a prototypical tourist-grubbing southern truck-stop, now seemed murky and mysterious. Weird vapours tainted the parochial climate of sturdy marriages, conservatively traditional faiths and blind veneration of progress -- any progress -- that allowed slick characters such as Bernard Squires to swoop in and have their way. (p.379-80)

JoLayne Lucks buys a winning lottery ticket; unfortunately, so do a couple of rednecks, Bode and Chub, who really don't want to share the jackpot, especially with a Black woman. JoLayne's in luck, though: veteran news reporter Tom Krome has been assigned to write a cheerful human-interest story (which will run with an alliterative headline playing on JoLayne's surname) about her win, and it turns out he's a good man to have around when the going gets tough.

Needless to say, in Hiaasen's hands this turns into an epic chase, with all manner of personable (though not necessarily likeable) local colour cheering or booing from the sidelines. I read and enjoy Hiaasen's crime novels for a number of reasons: the humour, the characters (especially the women, who are tough and self-assured), the ecological angle (less central here than in some of his others), the odds-on chance of a happy ending.

This isn't a novel packed with mindless violence, unless you count a vicious attack by an enraged crustacean. Nobody gets murdered. (Well, there's a murder-by-omission if you squint.) There is redemption (Shiner), closure (Mary Andrea), justice (Judge Battenkill). There are turtles! And religious visions! And the protagonists, despite -- as far as I can tell -- never really working out what's going on around them, do the right thing, triumph over malice and chaos and sheer stupidity, and come out smelling of roses. Great fun: nobody else does it quite like Carl Hiaasen.

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