Carl Hiaasen’s Sick Puppy

Sick Puppy — Carl Hiaasen

The only Sick Puppy here is a dog. There’s a rich young man with a conscience and a rich old man with no conscience at all. An assortment of corrupt politicians, greedy lobbyists, assorted hangers-on, a few sleazeballs, and a couple of sleazeballs hired by sleazeballs. And a woman. Iif it hadn’t been for that damn dog, there wouldn’t have been a woman at all.

This is about an island, not a very big island, not a very impressive island,  mostly nature, some people. An island nonetheless. And in FL, an island is really all you need to think you can turn greed into money. This is a tale of greed, real estate, righteous indignation, wild game hunting, political wheeling and dealing, and all the grease it takes to make the wheels of politics and capitalism turn.

How does a rich young man with a conscience get tangled up in all this, you might ask? Well, it involves a burger wrapper, 14 tons of garbage and a convertible BMW. A governor (you can call him “Chief”) gets sucked into the madness, and through it all that dog is still a sick puppy.

This is a gnat boxing with a giant. The giant, heedless of the gnat, waves his hand around to brush off some unseen annoyance. For the gnat’s part, this relentless needling that goes unheeded, just motivates it to needle harder, causing the giant to flail about that much more ignorantly.

I really don’t know how much more to tell you. Sick Puppy is very entertaining. Carl Hiaasen knows when to drop a twisted bit of humor into a story and when to take that unexpected turn into sober introspection on the state of our society. His knowledge of FL, its political short-comings, it’s business short-comings, allows him to spin a tale of man’s short-sightedness in respect to nature and his fellow man.

While it might not be riveting, read it in one sitting literature, it is certainly a novel you will want to avoid putting down if at all possible. You’ll probably find this is one of those books you stick in your bag, and hope the dentist is late, you miss the train, or your one o’clock doesn’t show. This is a “just a couple more pages” story.

The conclusion is not what you’d expect and neither is the finish. So many times a novel ends with the good (or the bad) guys winning, someone rides off into the sunset, the guy gets the girl (or the other way around) and that’s it. End of story. But not so fast, here. This might have been a tale of greed and corruption, and a reckoning, but it’s also about a burger wrapper, first and foremost, a woman and one very sick puppy.

I would recommend any of Carl Hiaasen’s books on the blind, having read Sick Puppy and Chomp! He explores relevant issues without coming off as self-righteous or condescending.  I have had a couple of other Hiaasen titles on my short list of things to read, and I’ll be moving them up my list accordingly.

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