“ Author: Carl Hiaasen / Genre: Fiction „
Despite his rather boyish tendency to blow things up and rip bits off of people, Carl Hiaasen is not quite the lad you might take him for. Female characters in his novels are invariably sensible and sympathetic people, rarely succumbing to the greed and mayhem of his men. Of course, this sometimes marginalises them, as it's only the mad chaps who can keep Hiaasen's comic universe ticking over. On the face of it, 'Strip Tease', the only Hiaasen novel to feature a woman in the main part, would have less to offer female readers than any of his other books. Anyone who has seen the comprehensively dreadful, tawdry movie version, would have this impression compounded. Nevertheless, 'Strip Tease' is Hiaasen's warmest, most human book. Unlike most Hiaasen heroes, who get themselves deep in chaos by meddling or sheer bloody-mindedness, Erin Grant has been plunged into a bad situation (stripping to keep a roof over her head) by a bad marriage and some unwise decisions. As she gets plunged into a conspiracy surrounding the maniacal congressman David Dilbeck, it is her ingenuity and strength of character that gets her through, rather than a willingness to blow things up. The relationship between Erin and her daughter is wholly unsentimental but effortlessly convincing, giving the book a solid emotional core quite unlike any of his other novels. There is still farce and destruction aplenty, indeed 'Strip Tease' is one of Hiaasen's funniest books, but the semi-serious nature of its characterisation also makes it his most mature. Fans will certainly not be disappointed (Dilbeck is an even funnier villain than the great Francis X. Kingsbury in 'Native Tongue'), but people who might be put off by the gleefully violent and cartoonish nature of Hiaasen's books may very well find that this unlikely classic reveals a really humane talent at work.