Razor Girl
A novel by Carl Hiaasen
Book review by Jules Brenner
Knopf, released 9/6/16, 352 pp., $27.95
Return to list of books

It's probably fair to say that this author, with his admixture of crime, mystery, quirky characters and outlandish humor is one-of-a-kind. Fans will know exactly what I mean -- but if you haven't yet been introduced to the zany world of Carl Hiaasen, get a load of this!

Getting the scam... er, trip into gear is Lane Coolman, a Hollywood talent agent tooling along a Florida highway in his rental, on his way to "meet a man in Key West," when he's hit in the rear by a Firebird. Jumping out to check on the other driver, he finds a pretty redhead behind the wheel with her jeans and panties pulled down to her knees holding the razor with which she had been shaving her... well, use your imagination.


Call it introduction by way of rear-end colission, she calls herself Merry. But, as she's a self-professed professional escort, and hardly anyone Lane is going to be friendly with on a long-term basis, he introduces himself as Bob. (Remember, now, this is Hiaasen-world).

While driving her to a prearranged spot in the city to meet her partner in crime, Zeto, after the tow truck hauls her bashed ride away, she tells Coolman that (1) her last name is Mansfield, (2) that she lied about being an escort, (3) and that she's actually an artifacts appraiser. She also (4) continues to call him Bob after Lane confesses to his real name and (5) has a talent for getting men to drive her to her destination.

On that trip she informs him that the accident was no "accident" and that he's actually the target of a contract killing by a "short fused individual" (Mafia crime boss Dominick "Big Noogie" Aeola) who wants payback for being swindled by one Martin Trebeaux, a man who sells stolen sand to the ultra rich whose beaches had been washed away by rising sea levels. But when "oily-haired" Zeto drives up in a white Tesla wearing a leather bomber jacket and a gold earring -- the guy who will execute the contract -- it doesn't take him long to realize they've got the wrong driver of a "late-model" four-door Buick heading south."

The character list and people's lives have quite a few turns to take, some of them hairpins and this is only what you learn to page eight. You've got to admit that this is a clever way to introduce characters but this is only the tip of the cast list iceberg with which Hiaasen drowns us in a deluge of insanity and satire. Next up is Buck Nance, star of the redneck reality show "Bayou Brethren" a smash hit about chicken breeders. Takeover psychotic and main villain is his tormenter, Blister.

Because he gives almost equal time to everyone in his little universe of whackos, I'm not sure I can even pick who among these self-absorbed, clueless but lively neurotics might be considered the protagonist. Most likely, it's Andrew Yancy, an ex-detective working as a restaurant inspector whose live-in girlfriend Rosa is an ex-morgue worker graduated to the ER. Yancy meets the title girl but his heart is too entwined with Rosa for any serious interest to blossom beyond using her as an inside source to solve a murder case and getting his job back. But, then, there's fate.

Lest you think you've got the picture, don't get ahead of scam-a-minute Hiaasen. How he mixes issues of life or death with trivia is part of the mischievous style. And, he's not shy with the sub-plots, such as the interwoven drama of Deb, who turns up at his door while looking for her two-hundred grand diamond engagement ring from fiance' Brock Richardson, a lawyer who plans to build a mcmansion next door.

This is an "anything goes, for a satirical punch" from the inventive mentality of a surprise-on-every-page writer. Though repetition does sneak into what is a cramped, if diverting, slice of Americana foolishness, there was no way I could not read and enjoy every word.

The genius is in putting together the preposterous for our entertainment.

If you don't yet own Razor Girl and would like to purchase it (usually at a sizable discount), click here.