The Norman Transcript

August 9, 2013

Book review: Bad Monkey hits the spot with crime, comedy

By Zachary Elledge
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Book: Bad Monkey (2013, Random House, Inc.)

Author: Carl Hiaasen

Why you should read: “Bad Monkey” tells the story of Andrew Yancy, a functioning alcoholic with a laundry list of other character flaws who has been suspended from his job as a detective because of a hilarious act of passion. He now kills his time enjoying the Florida Keys where he lives, and trying to woo his married, sex-offender girlfriend.

His second chance at a career arrives when a severed arm gets snagged by a fishing boat, and Yancy’s superior forces him to deal with it so he doesn’t have to. As Yancy tries to shut a case that seems to be a simple shark attack, the details he discovers don’t add up. His intuition leads him into a vigilante investigation to win his badge back. He quickly discovers that this was no accident. The further he digs, the deeper the case goes, even leading him into the culture of voodoo. That’s where the title comes in.

Other than the arm, this scenario may sound a bit cliché for a mystery novel. On the contrary, however, Yancy is a fun and fairly unique character. On the job, he is professional and very ethical. When he isn’t, alcohol gets the better of him, which leads to some delightfully unethical mischief.

Hiaasen’s style is riddled with dry, subtle and sardonic humor. He wrote this book for a more mature audience, both in content and form. Hiaasen uses a diverse vocabulary and a style that novice readers will probably struggle with. Foul language abounds, and sexuality is a prevalent theme. If none of these things put you off, then “Bad Monkey” is equal parts interesting and comedic. Just don’t try and copy any of Yancy’s antics.