South Beach neighborhood of Miami, Florida. Home of the crazies, celebrities, celebrity wannabes, paparazzi, happening nightspots and celebrity-chef eateries, chain stores and indie fashion shops, well-preserved art deco architecture, outdoor cafes and museums such as the Wolfsonian-FIU, with its collection of modern art and objects.
Twenty-two year old Cherry Pie, a celebrity pop singer known not for her terrible singing ability but famous for being famous, ever since she was 14. Cherry Pie, formerly Cheryl, is on a fast track for that great stage in the sky, by way of drugs, alcohol, sex and rock n’ roll. It has surprised all who know her that she hasn’t bitten the big one yet.
Stage mother and manager Mom keeps on the payroll a look alike named Annie for those times when Cherry Pie has to be rushed out of a trashed hotel room to the emergency room due to chemical and/or alcoholic excesses, because the paparazzi are relentless sharks, with the mags paying the most for naughty pics, pics of trashed, wasted celebs, stars gone to the bad.
This is the story of a paparazzi, of the ditzy druggy celebrity and her body double, her maimed body guard with a weed wacker for an arm prosthesis, and the former governor of Florida, a sweet Viet Nam vet who spends only a few days in office when he realizes that the greed and corruption will make him crazy, and one day just disappears. He now lives in the swamps of Marathon Key, and pops up occasionally to right environmental wrongs. One wrong he righted was the punishment of a developer who clear cut all the mangos from an area he wanted to develop. The nutty ex-governor kidnaps him and diapers a stinging sea creature to his privates. That took care of him, that’s for sure!
I am coming to learn that Hiaasen’s books are about moral outrage, real estate schemers, financiers and others who are laying waste to Florida in the name of “progress,” about the superficial celebrity culture of the day, and above all, a weird kind of humor.
My first Hiaasen book was Double Whammy, which you can read about here.