Carl Hiaasen's 'Dance Of The Reptiles': Like His Novels But A Little Less Fictiony
Mystery fans know Carl Hiaasen for the likes of Strip Tease and Tourist Season, brutally improbable yarns of one-eyed governors solving real estate murder crimes made plausible by their meticulous south Florida settings. Like the surreal, hard-living Harlem of Chester Himes and the bleak, no-exit Philadelphia of David Goodis, Hiaasen’s Florida is a bright nihilistic cul-de-sac the reader takes on narrative faith. After two decades’ worth of surreal news stories out of the Sunshine State, the public is primed for pretty much any kink of plot or backdrop.
Readers of the Miami Herald know Hiaasen as a local variant on the kind of opinionated blood-and-thunder political journalist that began to fade from the national scene before the final shovel of dirt hit the last Alsop brother. Unlike the pundits and paid bloviators of today, Hiaasen understands his subject is a cruel joke and insists the reader take it that way. Hiaasen’s venom is remarkable and remarkably restrained given the inhuman provocation offered by pill mills, British Petroleum and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which he was denouncing as an NRA fantasy as long ago as 2005.
Dance of the Reptiles retrieves a decade of these fulminations from dumpster and landfill, with the whole 398 pages a useful corrective against the kind of bloggy hysterics that taints much current political writing.