Summary: A farcical skewering of politicians, money and regular people trying to make a living.
A few months ago Audible was having a buy one get one free sale. One of the options was Strip Tease. I couldn’t really find anything to match with the other book that I did want, so I threw it in my cart as a free extra.
I have read two other Hiaasen books, but it has been a while. I remembered them as funny, sort of mysteries concerned primarily with local Florida issues. After I was about half way through Strip Tease I went back and read my previous reviews. I was not kind. I thought the characters were basically unlikable and while the writing was ok, there was very little redeeming value in the books. And basically I feel the same about Strip Tease.
Strip Tease is primarily about Erin, a young divorced mother who is working as a stripper because it is the only way she can earn enough money to pay her lawyer to try and get back her daughter from her dirtbag ex-husband.
A local congressman beats the crap out of another patron at Erin’s strip club and although unrecognized by all but one person his assistant gets him away before the police arrive. This starts a convoluted story of the political fixers around the congressman doing whatever it takes to keep the guy around so he can vote for continued sugar subsidies.
Everything falls apart, people are murdered, the local homicide cop becomes interested in one of the unsolved murders and in general the story moves along. There is never a question about what is going on. It is all played out right in front of the reader. So it is really only a matter of how things eventually play out.
The problem with Hiaasen is that his cynicism about politics and corruption mar the book so badly that there is no reason for any of the characters to keep living. Even the good guys just keep being good because that is the way they are, not because they think there is anything that can be done to change the system or because there is some positive effect their actions are bringing about in the world.
Hiaasen couches everything in humor (of a sort). But the humor is dark and cynical. It is not laugh out loud funny, it is laugh because it is so ridiculously sad that you have to laugh to not cry funny.
My vaguely positive feelings about Haasen’s writing is gone. He can write and I kept reading (although the book was definitely too long), but in the end I don’t care about the characters, I don’t like the authors worldview and I don’t want to support the writing.
I am not against satire and some cynicism occasionally, Christopher Buckley is one of my favorite writers. But Buckley writes to point out the ridiculousness of political convention. Hiaasen instead writes out of hopelessness.