Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiaasen, is full of passion and humor for Florida, which is practically its own character in the novel. Home is home. That’s the primary feeling of this story. Florida is a beautiful, magical place but has many flaws…many many flaws. But to live without these flaws is unfathomably to many locals, including our hero Andrew Yancy. Yancy who has been reassigned to the Health Inspection unit after attacking a girlfriend’s husband with a vacuum cleaner, doesn’t exactly live by the letter of the law.
Yancy meets his compatriot in local love in Neville, who loves the Bahamas and couldn’t live elsewhere, just like Yancy who can never leave the Florida keys. Back and forth from Miami to the Keys to the Bahamas, Yancy is drawn into a mystery that began with a dismembered arm being caught by a tourist on a fishing boat. Not letting anything go and wanting to get his real police job back, Yancy uncovers the mystery behind what happened to the man whose arm was found, not letting his professional or personal life get in his way.
Hiaasen writes with a passion for his locale. A lot of the reviews talk about the satire of his work. I think satire requires ridiculing something that needs to be fixed, and the flaw is ridiculed to point out the ridiculousness of the action. There are aspects of satire, especially with the spec house next door to Yancy and the Medicare fraud, but I don’t think Yancy could exist as he does anywhere that wouldn’t allow that exploitation. It’s not just the locale that Yancy is in love with; it’s the lawlessness. He couldn’t be who he is without the crooks and petty thieves and bad restaurant owners.
This was a very funny look around Florida and the Bahamas with an intriguing story mixed in. Hiaasen makes you believe that not only could this story have happened, but it only could have happened in Florida.