Monday, 7 March 2011

Book Review: Star Island by Carl Hiassen

I reviewed this recently over  at  - there's more good stuff on the Crimesquad site. Why don'tcha pop across for a nosey.

(BTW - apologies to UK readers. The Amazon link is stuck on the U.S. version and I really can't be arsed looking into  how I should fix it. So there.)

Anywho, the blurb reads as follows...

Twenty-two-year-old pop star Cherry Pye is attempting a comeback from her latest drug and alcohol disaster. Ann DeLusia is Cherry's 'undercover stunt double', standing in for Cherry whenever the singer is too wasted to go out in public. But, one night, Ann-as-Cherry is mistakenly kidnapped from a Miami hotel by an obsessed paparazzo named Bang Abbott.

Cherry's entourage comprise of the world's pushiest stage mother; a perverted record producer; nipped-and-tucked twin publicists;  and a bodyguard who has a weed-strimmer as a part of his prosthetic arm. The task for this collective is to rescue Ann while keeping her existence secret from the public.

Will Bang achieve his fantasy of a private photo session – a la Marilyn Munro - with Cherry? Will Cherry sober up in time to lip-synch her concert tour and promote her new album, Skantily Klad? And will Ann escape from Bang Abbott and Cherry's shadow?

My humble opinion reads thusly...

Nobody does it quite like Hiaasen and in Star Island he carries on his tradition of making his reader laugh while tweaking their conscience. This is a book I would have loved to have the wit and intelligence to write.
Star Island is a laugh-a-paragraph romp through South Beach, Florida, but it is much, much more than that. It is a great big V-sign to the celebrity culture that seems to fill our every waking moment. You want to see the paparazzi get their comeuppance? Get yourself down to your local bookshop and pick up a copy of this book.

Crime fiction as a genre is one that normally trades on a realism that’s sharp enough to cut your nails with, but with Hiaasen you have to set that notion aside as soon as he starts describing his characters. 

Kooky, is only the half of it.

Chief nut-job this time round is Bang Abbott; the depiction of a character so vile he will have every paparazzi dialling their lawyer. He’s fat and rancid (washing gets in the way of stalking time, dontcha know?) and his moral condition is permanently dialled to “Couldn’t Give A Flying Fuck”. He has only one thought in his mind: to get the one photo that will ensure his fortune.

We first meet Cherry Pye, the star of the story when she is vomiting into a silver-­plated ice bucket, en route to hospital after swallowing vodka, Red Bull, hydrocodone, birdseed and stool softener in the drug-enthused belief that she might be reborn as a cockatoo. Getting the picture? But not to worry. Ann DeLusia, Cherry’s “undercover stunt double,” is already on the job, impersonating the dozy diva while Ms Pye is driven off to rehab.

Given the larger-than-life aspect of most of his characters, Hiaasen could be accused of assembling a cast of caricatures, but he is so deliciously funny, as a reader you really don’t care. The satire and the humour is all.
I could go on... and on and frequently do when I’m talking about a Carl Hiassen novel, but you should really find out for yourself. Newbies to Hiaasen, I envy you; familiars, you are in for more wonders.


  1. Possibly a little too silly for me..

  2. Naw, Ricky. I used to think that comedy and crime didn't mix until I read Hiaasen. You've got to try him at least once. Get an old one from a charity shop, borrow one from the library - if you still don't like it then fair anuff.

  3. I like Stuart MacBride and he throws in a few laughs so maybe I'll give Hiaasen a go.

  4. I love Hiaasen. This sound like another good one. Great review as usual, Michael.

  5. Let me know how you get on, Ricky.

    Marley, do you have a favourite Hiassen? I was trying to work out which one to recommend to Ricky. But they're all excellent. "Lucky You" possibly my favourite...