Have you ever been innocently wandering down the aisle at a bookstore and have a cover reach out and smack you? I mean figuratively not literally. (Although if this has happened to you literally, I think that’s a story I need to know!) It happened to me. Big, bold, neon orange and yellow with a screaming monkey in a pirate hat on the cover. You know you’d pick it up to read if it were you. If nothing else, I needed to take a closer look, because this is something my nephew would want to hear about.
Carl Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey was not the monkey I expected, but it was the monkey I needed…wait, is that Batman? Anyway, the whole thing starts off with an arm that gets put in a cooler, and like a monkey it bounces all over the place from there. You would think that with as many plot twists, sub plots and deranged animals (and thugs named Egg) things would get a bit out of control, but they don’t (well, except in a good way). Hiaasen keeps a firm hand on the reins of this plot, and seeing all those lines that seem tangled come to a smooth controlled knot at the end, is immensely satisfying. To say Bad Monkey is fast-paced would be an understatement, but it will take you on a wild, grin-filled, ride.
Although, I picked up the book with my nephew in mind, Bad Monkey is not for the 13-year-old. However, the brief overview of the plot I gave him garnered me a smile. A real one…like with teeth. (He no longer laughs out loud at the things adults say. It is beneath him. This is no reflection on my skill as a comedian…no, really!) The book’s comedic value comes as much from the crazy situations the main character Andrew Yancy
finds creates for himself as the cast of characters surrounding him. Escaped convicts from Oklahoma, a detective bumped down to roach patrol, the arm in the freezer, and a hurricane…oh, and you can’t forget that deranged monkey.
You know how I am about characters, and Yancy provides a flawed hero. He actually does the stuff that most of us only fantasize about. His girlfriend’s a bit kooky too (actually, so is the ex…you know the escaped con from Oklahoma?) Yancy has the depth I like in a character without that filter that keeps most of us out of jail. It’s kind of like letting your id run around mostly unchecked for a while. He’s a good guy though, who wants to do the right thing, but rules get in the way.
This is the first book of Hiaasen’s I’ve read, but I will be looking for more. Especially, if his others are as much of a fun-filled adventure as this one. Sometimes you need out of the wizards preventing the end of the world, drug and alcohol addicted characters, or peculiar children and run with something a bit more light-hearted. Hiaasen will be my go-to guy next time I need a lift out of the doldrums.
My mom and I were also talking about the book, and she mentioned that Carl Hiaasen was interviewed on NPR. I haven’t looked to see if the interview can be found online, but it sounds like it would be worth the time to check it out.
On the hottest day of July, trolling in dead-calm waters near Key West, a tourist named James Mayberry reeled up a human arm. His wife flew to the bow of the boat and tossed her breakfast burritos.
Today I cannot resist stealing The Nerdist Podcast’s sign-off.
Enjoy your burrito,