Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

Book Review: Double Whammy, by Carl Hiaasen

A murder mystery surrounding pro bass fishing in Florida. It gets weird.

Double Whammy

Putnam, 1987, 320 pages

"Robert Clinch loved his boat more that anything else in the world...more than his wife...his kids...his girlfiend...even more than the largemouth bass he was pursuing." Thus begins a twisted tale of murder in the world of big-stakes bass fishing tournaments. Filled with ex-wives, evangelists, and an armed pit-bull, this is a story that could only be concocted by Carl Hiaasen, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times best-selling author, and czar of Florida noir fiction.

Carl Hiaasen makes Florida sound like one dangerously crazy place. This 1987 mystery revolves around the world of bass sports fishing. The protagonist, a man named Decker, is a former photographer turned private investigator who has been hired by a rich man to catch his rival, a big-name bass fisherman, cheating. Apparently most pros cheat in competitive fishing tournaments, and the rich guy has become obsessed with taking down a celebrty who has his own cable TV show.

Decker, however, soon finds he's been set up, and the plot zigs, zags, and does backflips, involving Decker's ex, a televangelist trying to sell Florida real estate, a former Governor now living as a mad hermit, a black state trooper assigned to the most racist hick backwaters of the state, a Cuban police detective who has to learn to fish, and a would-be assassin who spends the latter part of the book staggering around with a rotting pit bull's head clamped onto his arm, like a deranged redneck version of Anton Chigurh.

Even Mickey Mouse gets a mention. I'm only surprised there were no alligators.

Double Whammy is fun and well-plotted; as zany as the plot twists may seem, Hiaasen actually brings it all together, weaving these strange, loony, venal, and oddly noble characters together into a story about timeshares, fishing, and murder. The fact that Hiaasen actually knows Florida and obviously did copious research on the subject of bass fishing just makes the details shine, though it's the characters and the twists that will really hold your attention.

While a bit dated now (the book was written in 1987, as you can tell by all the problems that come up that would be solved nowadays by a cell phone), it was a good read. I've read two books by Carl Hiaasen now, and he has a gift for making Florida sound like the weirdest place on Earth and then sticking an almost-plausible plot into it.

Rating: 8/10

Also by Carl Hiaasen: My review of Nature Girl.

My complete list of book reviews.
Tags: books, carl hiaasen, mystery, reviews

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