I've read nearly every one of Hiaasen's books since the first one, and he was great out of the gate. This one reminds me of Ellis Island: Tired, poorly written and yearning to be more interesting. This must be his contract obligation book, and only restates (now tired) themes and plot lines. A year or so ago I got tired of waiting around for a good new Hiaasen book and read one of his YA titles and it wasn't bad, although it lacked bite. This one just lacks.
I've read/listened to every Burke/Robischeaux/Patton effort and am not quite finished with this one so maybe I should wait to write this, but a few things stand out. I know that all the books are violent but I got through that because the writing and description is so extraordinary that it didn't matter so much, but it seems a bit more acute here. I'd have to go back and listen again to some of the others for a comparison, but I find the brutality in this book unsettling when before it took a back seat.
The second problem for me is Will Patton. He's a great narrator, and his voices for Dave and Clete (especially) are spot on. Except his voicing of the women here doesn't quite work. He pushes into the higher register for Gretchen and Alafair and it sounds like a falsetto. Both women, in "real life" would have strong voices. Again, I need to go back and compare it to what he's done before, but here the high pitch is irritating.
The writing is still first rate. Burke could tell the same story in half the pages but his tendency to describe people and places and smells and light lifts up the whole experience. This is still true here, but I'd still be happy with less descriptions of the blood and stuff.
As I said I've read them all and enjoyed some more than others (faves are "Jolie Blon's Bounce," "Tin Roof Blowdown" and "Creole Belle"). Neil Young characterizes his output as "It's all one song." Burke has that characteristic too, there is a unifying theme and feeling that lifts all of his books to a remarkable level. Neil has a greater quality variance quotient than Burke, but neither is consistently great.
Writing one really good book let alone 20 is a tremendous feat so I feel a bit churlish about this note. On the other hand, this is not the best of the Burke/Robischeaux/Patton series. Those already on the train will dig this but newbies should start elsewhere.
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