This is a rollicking, free-wheeling, offbeat trip through Southern Florida. Your tour guide is the brilliant, charismatic, unbalanced and dangerous Serge A. Storms. In my opinion, it's worth a listen just for Serge's rants filled with non-sequiters and valid social criticism.
The story hops through time between Serge and his grandfather Sergio. It covers a lot of Florida history and is not afraid to talk about the mistakes and corruption as well as the triumphs and native beauty of the state.
If you don't mind constant references to drug and alcohol use, some bad language, sex, and vivid (if rather unhinged) social commentary, you'll get a kick out of this book. If any of those things bother you I'd recommend staying away because you'll be offended.
I'll get my bias out of the way first -- listening to an abridged audiobook is like getting Filet Mignon at a drive-through window.
Okay, on to the book. Martin Cruz Smith is a genius at getting inside a culture and telling a story that could only have worked in the right setting. I have no way of knowing what 1941 Tokyo was like, but Smith's rendition is totally plausible and unquestionably different than modern US culture. The setting, characters, and culture are all consistent and work together to really pull you into the story.
The story itself is fascinating, believable, and has enough twists to keep it interesting. Small details given casually help set the scene. And, like I mentioned before, it is a story that could only have happened in Japan in 1941. The end might ring false to Americans, but it is perfectly in character and consistent.
I highly recommend this book. The abridgement is quite good, but I would have given the unabridged version 5 stars.
If you enjoy this, I recommend other books by the author: Gorky Park, Polar Star, and Havana Bay are my favorites. Not available on Audible, yet (hint hint :)
First, the good: the story itself is creative, scary, and plausible. As it unfolds, each step is a logical progression and you end up believing that it could really happen (well, I did anyway). The story ends with most questions answered but enough unexplained to be intriguing.
Now, the not-so-good. The author has an unusual style. The tone is somewhat distant. The people are described more like acquaintances seen from outside rather than the more typical omniscient point of view. Also, the pace is odd. There are some descriptions of thoughts that drag on far too long and some vital action is referred to only in flashback. I thought I had fallen asleep and missed part of it but no, that part just wasn't told in detail.
Overall, though, I recommend it if you feel like an unusual, creative story. The presentation isn't as polished as some more well-known authors, but in my opinion the story is good enough to be worth a listen.
For those who care, there is a small amount of bad language and sex and quite a bit of violence.
Overall, there is some interesting material here. I found myself interested in and researching the central locations in the story.
However, the pace is slower than I like, the number of characters with similar names confused me more than once, and it didn't consistently keep my attention.
I mildly enjoyed it, but I won't go out of my way to seek out the author again. It's too bad because the plot and setting had a lot of potential.
I've read/listened to several books by Carl Hiaasen and have enjoyed them greatly. This one? I couldn't get past the first five minutes. The narrator just turned me off completely. He sounded like somebody reading a cereal box to themselves. No enthusiasm, no energy, just a casual bored tone of voice like he had something better to do.
By all means, read Hiaasen's work, but make sure you can handle this narrator before purchasing. I wish I had....
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