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Skinny Dip [Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Carl Hiaasen , Kerry Shale
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Hiaasen's signature mix of hilariously over-the-top villains, lovable innocents and righteous indignation at what mankind has done to his beloved Florida wilderness is all present in riotous abundance in his latest. It begins with attractive heiress Joey Perrone being tossed overboard from a cruise ship by her larcenous husband, Chaz—not for her money, which she has had the good sense to keep well away from him, but because he fears she is onto his crooked dealings with a ruthless tycoon who is poisoning the Everglades. But instead of drowning as she's supposed to, Joey stays afloat until she is rescued by moody ex-cop Mick Stranahan, a loner who has also struck out in the marriage department. Then the two together, with the unwitting aid of a suspicious cop who can't pin the attempted murder on Chaz, hatch a sadistic plot to scare that "maggot" out of what little wit he has. Even Tool, a hulking brute sent by the tycoon to keep an eye on Chaz, eventually turns against him, and much of the fun is in watching the deplorable Chaz flounder further and further in the murk, both literally and figuratively (Chaz's job, as the world's unlikeliest marine biologist, involves falsifying water pollution levels for the tycoon). Hiaasen's books are so enjoyable it's always a sad moment when they end. In this case, however, sadness is mixed with puzzlement because the book seems to end in mid-scene, with Chaz in trouble again—but is it terminal? We thought at first there were some pages missing, but Knopf says that was the ending Hiaasen intended. Odd.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* What do you get when you cross a sleazy marine biologist, a corrupt tycoon with a bad comb-over, and a voluptuous wife hell-bent on revenge? Another delirious romp through the swamps of South Florida from irrepressible Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen. Chaz Perrone was sure he'd seen the last of his wife when he pushed her over the balcony of the Sun Duchess cruise ship off the coast of Florida. But Joey Perrone, a former championship swimmer, survived the fall and clung to a bale of Jamaican hashish long enough to be rescued by retired cop Mick Stranahan. Joey wants to know why her husband wanted her dead (he feared she was onto his scheme of doctoring Florida Everglades water samples at the behest of ruthless agribusiness tycoon Red Hammernut). Then, with Stranahan's help, she wants to drive him crazy. No reprobate escapes the satirical eye of Hiaasen, who writes like the love child of Hunter S. Thompson and Evelyn Waugh. His trademark cast of skewed characters includes old favorites like Skink and new arrival, Tool, a hirsute, painkiller-addicted thug with a bullet lodged in a decidedly cheeky place. Like Hiaasen's nine previous novels, this one's a corker, chock-full of belly laughs and blistering truths. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Slick, swift and gloriously funny" Sunday Telegraph "The undisputed master of organized chaos... His satire is a fierce unmuzzled snarl, swiftly followed by a painfully ironic bite. Quite simply, brilliant" The Sunday Times "America's finest satirical novelist... the blazing conscience of the sunshine state" Observer "Florida's poet laureate - the chronicler of its corruption, craziness and exploited ecology... a unique satirical talent" Financial Times "The funniest crime novelist to put pen to paper" Evening Standard --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida. He is the author of nine previous novels, including Sick Puppy, Lucky You, Stormy Weather and Basket Case. He also writes a twice weekly metropolitan column for the Miami Herald. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

One

At the stroke of eleven on a cool April night, a woman named Joey Perrone went overboard from a luxury deck of the cruise liner M.V. Sun Duchess. Plunging toward the dark Atlantic, Joey was too dumbfounded to panic.

I married an asshole, she thought, knifing headfirst into the waves.

The impact tore off her silk skirt, blouse, panties, wristwatch and sandals, but Joey remained conscious and alert. Of course she did. She had been co-captain of her college swim team, a biographical nugget that her husband obviously had forgotten.

Bobbing in its fizzy wake, Joey watched the gaily lit Sun Duchess continue steaming away at twenty nautical miles per hour. Evidently only one of the other 2,049 passengers was aware of what had happened, and he wasn’t telling anybody.

Bastard, Joey thought.

She noticed that her bra was down around her waist, and she wriggled free of it. To the west, under a canopy of soft amber light, the coast of Florida was visible. Joey began to swim.

The water of the Gulf Stream was slightly warmer than the air, but a brisk northeasterly wind had kicked up a messy and uncomfortable chop. Joey paced herself. To keep her mind off sharks, she replayed the noteworthy events of the week-long cruise, which had begun almost as unpromisingly as it had ended.

The Sun Duchess had departed Port Everglades three hours late because a raccoon had turned up berserk in the pastry kitchen. One of the chefs had wrestled the frothing critter into a sixty-gallon tin of guava custard before it had shredded the man’s jowls and humped snarling to the depths of the ship. A capture team from Broward Animal Control had arrived, along with health inspectors and paramedics. Evacuated passengers were appeased with rum drinks and canapés.

Later, while reboarding, Joey had passed the Animal Control officers trudging empty-handed down the gangplank.

“I bet they couldn’t catch it,” she’d whispered to her husband. Despite the inconvenience caused by the raccoon, she’d found herself rooting for the addled little varmint.

“Rabies,” her husband had said knowingly. “Damn thing lays a claw on me, I’ll own this frigging cruise line.”

“Oh, please, Chaz.”

“From then on, you can call me Onassis. Think I’m kidding?”

The Sun Duchess was 855 feet long and weighed a shade more than seventy thousand tons. Joey had learned this from a brochure she’d found in their stateroom. The itinerary included Puerto Rico, Nassau and a private Bahamian island that the cruise lines had purchased (rumor had it) from the widow of a dismembered heroin trafficker. The last port of call before the ship returned to Fort Lauderdale was to be Key West.

Chaz had selected the cruise himself, claiming it was a present for their wedding anniversary. The first evening he’d spent on the fantail, slicing golf balls into the ocean. Initially Joey had been annoyed that the Sun Duchess would offer a driving range, much less a fake rock-climbing wall and squash courts. She and Chaz could have stayed in Boca and done all that.

No less preposterous was the ship’s tanning parlor, which received heavy traffic whenever the skies turned overcast. The cruise company wanted every passenger to return home with either a bronze glow or a crimson burn, proof of their seven days in the tropics.

As it turned out, Joey wound up scaling the rock wall and tak- ing full advantage of the other amenities, even the two-lane bowling alley. The alternative was to eat and drink herself sick, gluttony being the principal recreation aboard cruise liners. The Sun Duchess was renowned for its twenty-four-hour surf-and-turf buffets, and that’s how Joey’s husband had spent the hours between ports.

Pig, she thought, submerging to shed a clot of seaweed that had wrapped around her neck like a sodden yule garland.

Each day’s sunrise had brought a glistening new harbor, yet the towns and straw markets were drearily similar, as if designed and operated by a franchise. Joey had earnestly tried to be charmed by the native wares, though many appeared to have been crafted in Singapore or South Korea. And what would one do with a helmet conch clumsily retouched with nail polish? Or a coconut husk bearing a hand-painted likeness of Prince Harry?

So grinding was the role of tourist that Joey had found herself looking forward to visiting the ship’s “unspoiled private island,” as it had been touted in the brochure. Yet that, too, proved dispiriting. The cruise line had mendaciously renamed the place Rapture Key while making only a minimal effort at restoration. Roosters, goats and feral hogs were the predominant fauna, having outlasted the smuggler who had been raising them for banquet fare. The island’s sugar-dough flats were pocked with hulks of sunken drug planes, and the only shells to be found along the tree-shorn beach were of the .45-caliber variety.

“I’m gonna rent a Jet Ski,” Chaz had cheerily decreed.

“I’ll try to find some shade,” Joey had said, “and finish my book.”

The distance between them remained wide and unexplored. By the time the Sun Duchess had reached Key West, Joey and Chaz were spending only about one waking hour a day together, an interval usually devoted to either sex or an argument. It was pretty much the same schedule they kept at home.

So much for the romantic latitudes, Joey had thought, wishing she felt sadder than she did.

When her husband had scampered off to “check out the action” at Mallory Square, she briefly considered seducing one of the cabin attendants, a fine Peruvian brute named Tico. Ultimately Joey had lost the urge, dismissing the crestfallen young fellow with a peck on the chin and a fifty-dollar tip. She didn’t feel strongly enough about Chaz to cheat on him even out of spite, although she suspected he’d cheated on her often (and quite possibly during the cruise).

Upon returning to the Sun Duchess, Chaz had been as chatty as a cockatoo on PCP.

“See all those clouds? It’s about to rain,” he’d proclaimed with a peculiar note of elation.

“I guess that means no golf tonight,” Joey had said.

“Hey, I counted twenty-six T-shirt shops on Duval Street. No wonder Hemingway blew his brains out.”

“That wasn’t here,” Joey had informed him. “That was in Idaho.”

“How about some chow? I could eat a whale.”

At dinner Chaz had kept refilling Joey’s wineglass, over her protests. Now she understood why.

She felt it, too, that dehydrated alcohol fatigue. She’d been kicking hard up the crests of the waves and then breast-stroking down the troughs, but now she was losing both her rhythm and stamina. This wasn’t the heated Olympic pool at UCLA; it was the goddamn Atlantic Ocean. Joey scrunched her eyelids to dull the saltwater burn.

I had a feeling he didn’t love me anymore, she thought, but this is ridiculous.





Chaz Perrone listened for a splash but heard nothing except the deep lulling rumble of the ship’s engines. Head cocked slightly, he stood at the rail as solitary and motionless as a heron.

He hadn’t planned to toss her here. He had hoped to do it earlier in the voyage, somewhere between Nassau and San Juan, with the expectation that the currents would carry her body into Cuban waters, safely out of U.S. jurisdiction.

If the bull sharks didn’t find her first.

Unfortunately, the weather had been splendid during that early leg of the cruise, and every night the outside decks were crowded with moony-eyed couples. Chaz’s scheme required seclusion and he’d nearly abandoned hope, when the rain arrived, three hours after leaving Key West. It was only a drizzle, but Chaz knew it would drive the tourists indoors, stampeding for the lobster salad and electronic poker machines.

The second crucial element of his plot was surprise, Joey being a physically well-tuned woman and Chaz himself being somewhat softer and out of shape. Before luring her toward the stern of the Sun Duchess under the ruse of a starlit stroll, he’d made certain that his wife had consumed plenty of red wine; four and a half glasses, by his count. Two was usually enough to make her drowsy.

“Chaz, it’s sprinkling,” she had observed as they approached the rail.

Naturally she’d been puzzled, knowing how her husband despised getting wet. The man owned no less than seven umbrellas.

Pretending not to hear her, he had guided Joey forward by the elbow. “My stomach’s a disaster. I think it’s time they retired that seviche, don’t you?”

“Let’s go back inside,” Joey had suggested.

From a pocket of his blue blazer Chaz had surreptitiously removed the key to their stateroom and let it fall to the polished planks at his feet. “Oops.”

“Chaz, it’s getting chilly out here.”

“I think I dropped our key,” he’d said, stooping to find it. Or so Joey had assumed.

He could only guess what had shot through his wife’s mind when she’d felt him grab her ankles. He’s gotta be kidding, is what she’d probably thought.

The act itself was a rudimentary exercise in leverage, really, flipping her backward over the rail. It had happened so fast, she hadn’t made a peep.

As for the splash, Chaz would have preferred to hear it; a soft punctuation to the marriage and the crime. Then again, it was a long way down to the water.

He allowed himself a brief glance, but saw only whitecaps and foam in the roiling reflection of the ship’s lights. The Sun Duchess kept moving, which was a relief. No Klaxons sounded.
<... --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From AudioFile

Heiress overboard! Joey Perrone is flipped over the railing of a cruise ship by her husband, a marine biologist who thinks she's on to the scam that would earn him a fortune to rival her inheritance. Husband Chaz is concocting falsified phosphorus tests for Red Hammernut, a politically connected prince of Everglades polluters. But Joey Perrone survives the plunge, and, aided by a typical Hiaasen swamp-land loner, fashions her revenge. When you add a world-weary old-school cop with a pair of canine-consuming pythons, Red's dogged Man Friday, and Chaz's not-as-naïve-as-you-think girlfriend--you just know you're in Hiaasen country. Actor Barry Bostwick, an exemplar of versatility, shapes and retools his voice to bring out the best--and the worst--of the author's human menagerie. M.J.B. © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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