I’ve enjoyed reading Carl Hiaasen in the past, his writing is fast-paced, irreverent and very easy to read.
‘Bad Monkey’ follows Andrew Yancy a policeman who, after assaulting his girlfriend’s husband, is demoted to restaurant inspector. When a severed arm turns up on a fishing boat he resolves to solve the case in order to try to get reinstated as a policeman.
As with Hiaasen’s other writing this is a humourous lightweight crime caper. It’s easy to read and gets into the story quickly. I enjoyed the first third of the book but then I felt the plot started to meander a bit and lost its original fast pace. I got a bit bored in the middle of the book and I could have put it down and forgotten all about it without wondering what happened to any of the characters. However, the pace picks up again in the final third of the book, with the arrival of a hurricane in the Bahamas.
The book is set mostly in Florida with occasional jaunts down to the Bahamas. I found the Bahamian vernacular really hard to read. For example, Hiaasen uses ‘dot’ rather than ‘that’ and I spent the first few minutes of each conversation in the Bahamas trying to figure out who Dot was. I don’t think it’s necessary to write the dialogue in this way.
The sections in the Bahamas are filled with really bad cliches; including a voodoo witch and the eponymous ‘bad monkey’. I didn’t think these characters were really necessary or added anything to the plot. Using these ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ inspired ideas seemed a bit lazy.
The crime story is also not very original or exciting. The twist about what really happened to the arm which Yancy is investigating, is very obvious and predictable, (spoiler: why else would there be so much emphasis on the poncho?); so I was glad that the reveal came after two thirds of the book and it wasn’t saved to be the big final plot twist.
The most interesting and amusing plot line is actually unrelated to the central crime plot. It revolves around Yancy’s attempts to scupper the sale and completion of a monstrous house on the plot next door to his own house.
I’d recommend this book for anyone looking for a light, funny crime caper. I think it would particularly appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.