A few years ago, Barry reviewed a Carl Hiassen book titled Lucky You. I had not read him at that time. I still have not. Barry is back with another review of a Carl Hiassen book. This time he reviews Nature Girl. Make sure to go over and check out all the reading suggestions at Patti’s blog.
NATURE GIRL (2006) by Carl Hiaasen
Reviewed by Barry Ergang
On the first day of working the airboat concession on the Big Cypress reservation, half-blood Seminole Sammy Tigertail acquires a very drunk customer named Wilson who dies of a heart attack while on the boat ride. Advised by his uncle to dispose of the body somewhere not on the reservation, Sammy does so, then decides that it would be prudent to disappear for a while.
Honey Santana, who has been known to have anger issues, among several others, has just quit her job at the fish market owned by Louis Piejack after he groped her and she responded by fighting back. At dinner she tells her twelve-year-old son Fry that she’s thinking about earning money by doing the same thing one of her girlfriends is doing: taking tourists on kayaking eco-tours in and around Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands.
In Texas, telemarketer Boyd Shreave, using the surname Eisenhower, interrupts Honey Santana’s dinner hour and tries to pitch her on a Florida real estate deal. When she says she’s not interested, berates him for bothering people, and calls him “a professional pest,” Shreave fails to do what he knows he should: just hang up and call another prospect. Instead, he says something grossly insulting and disconnects the call. This leaves Honey with the unshakeable determination to get back at him somehow.
Lily Shreave knows her husband Boyd is having an affair and hires a private detective named Dealey to obtain photographic evidence for divorce proceedings. Boyd’s paramour is his telemarketing co-worker, Eugenie Fonda. Dealey gets the photos, one of which is very graphic, but this isn’t enough for Lily. She offers Dealey a great deal of money for even more explicit evidence.
When Louis Piejack is brutally assaulted, Honey is sure her ex-husband Perry Skinner is behind it. Fry tells Honey how Piejack suffered further indignities at the hands of paramedics and surgeons, and she eventually pays a sympathetic visit to him at his home. Piejack misinterprets this as sexual interest on Honey’s part and begins stalking her.
How these disparate plot elements and quirky, fleshed-out characters ultimately converge on Dismal Key in the Everglades to satisfy their aims or fail to makes for a hugely entertaining, neatly paced comic novel by Carl Hiaasen, whose satirical skills have been compared to Mark Twain, James Thurber, and S.J. Perelman. Readers with a taste for sometimes skewed humor, who aren’t offended by some instances of raw street language, will likely devour it as I did. Then again, this is the eleventh novel by Hiaasen I’ve read, and I have yet to be disappointed.