RARA-AVIS: reNEWed Hiaasen

Andy Hughes (AHughes@sbtinfo.com)
Thu, 30 Jul 1998 10:52:21 -0400 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard has just re-issued the three novels Carl
Hiaasen and fellow journalist Bill Montalbano published with Atheneum
between 1981 and 1984.The titles are "Powder Burn," "A Death in China"
and "Trap Line."

I finished "Powder Burn" late last night. It's quite different in style
and voice from Hiaasen's later, solo novels ("Tourist Season," "Double
Whammy," "Lucky You," et al). For the most part, the whackiness and
humor are also missing, making it closer to a standard, "serious"
thriller. The novel does contain a few later Hiaasen conceits (the
secondary character who lives outside society's boundaries and assists
the protagonist; physical deformities for one or more of the villains; a
Cuban cop who is just, but not always law-abiding; a defense of Florida
against outsiders and developers) in embryo form.

The plot itself is engaging most of the time, using the set-up of an
innocent man drawn into the criminal world who must defend himself
against the cops and robbers. It opens well, experiences about a 30 page
lull and then picks up through to the end, although the protagonist's
grand finale of a plan was not as sophisticated in its plotting as I
expect from Hiaasen.

Overall, I recommend it, to both fans and non-fans of Hiaasen. "A Death
in China" and "Trap Line" will have wait a few weeks for a reading, but
they await on the bookshelf.


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