For the last two years my dad has been telling me to read Carl Hiaasen; he has been so persistent that his constant suggestions had me ready to jump off a cliff. Every time I would ask him for a book recommendation he would repeat the same old story about how good his books are, like it was the first time he had ever told me. I’m not sure why I always rejected these pleas to read his books, but for some reason I had a pre-conceived notion that I would hate what Hiaasen was writing. Finally, I stepped away from the ledge and I picked up Hiaasen’s book Skin Tight.And guess what? I loved it. I went into the novel without any expectations and I exited stage left with the swag of Muhammad Ali. The book had this menacing way of making me feel hyped up and ready for action. I can attribute this feeling to the lead character Mick Stranahan. I have found that most Hiaasen books have a very strong central character that, while flawed, is still a symbol of perseverance and dignity in the corrupt state of Florida. These characters always have a chip on their shoulder that suggests “it’s my way or the highway.” I relate well to that sentiment and it always leaves me wanting to take some kind of action in anyway possible.
Corruption is a common issue that Hiaasen has written about in many of his books including one I am currently reading titled Stormy Weather. In Skin Tight he focuses his energy on highlighting the corrupt nature of the cosmetic surgery industry. He does this through Rudy Graveline, a plastic surgeon who has no cosmetic surgery certification and has faced numerous malpractice suits. Despite these and other ineptitudes in his craft, Graveline is still one of the most successful plastic surgeons in Miami because people treat his work as if it were a piece of fine art and fail to do any research on the doctor they are trusting to rearrange their face. Hiaasen mocks the complete lack of research that patients do about their doctors before allowing them to cut, slice and stretch parts of their bodies. All of these issues come to a head when Graveline kills a patient while giving her a simple nose job and Stranahan is tasked with solving the crime, while Graveline hires awkward hit men to kill Stranahan before he can solve the case.
The book has the quirkiness and satirical nature that defines Hiaasen, but it is still a good mystery novel with well developed and dynamic characters. I think most people will enjoy Hiaasen’s style and story telling technique and ultimately have a very satisfied feeling after reading Skin Tight. After I finished the book I immediately apologized to my old man and promised to always trust his judgment (we’ll see how that works out).
This What-are-you-reading-Wednesday post was written by Alex Miser. Alex is a recent graduate of Indiana University and the summer communications intern at Indiana Humanities.