Sick Puppy

( 167 )

Overview

When Palmer Stoat notices the black pickup truck following him on the highway, he fears his precious Range Rover is about to be carjacked. But Twilly Spree, the man tailing Stoat, has vengeance, not sport-utility vehicles, on his mind. Idealistic, independently wealthy and pathologically short-tempered, Twilly has dedicated himself to saving Florida's wilderness from runaway destruction. He favors unambiguous political statements -- such as torching Jet-Skis or blowing up banks ...
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Overview

When Palmer Stoat notices the black pickup truck following him on the highway, he fears his precious Range Rover is about to be carjacked. But Twilly Spree, the man tailing Stoat, has vengeance, not sport-utility vehicles, on his mind. Idealistic, independently wealthy and pathologically short-tempered, Twilly has dedicated himself to saving Florida's wilderness from runaway destruction. He favors unambiguous political statements -- such as torching Jet-Skis or blowing up banks -- that leave his human targets shaken but re-educated.

After watching Stoat blithely dump a trail of fast-food litter out the window, Twilly decides to teach him a lesson. Thus, Stoat's prized Range Rover becomes home to a horde of hungry dung beetles. Which could have been the end to it had Twilly not discovered that Stoat is one of Florida's cockiest and most powerful political fixers, whose latest project is the "malling" of a pristine Gulf Coast island. Now the real Hiaasen-variety fun begins ...

Dognapping eco-terrorists, bogus big-time hunters, a Republicans-only hooker, an infamous ex-governor who's gone back to nature, thousands of singing toads and a Labrador retriever greater than the sum of his Labrador parts -- these are only some of the denizens of Carl Hiaasen's outrageously funny new novel.

Brilliantly twisted entertainment wrapped around a powerful ecological plea, Sick Puppy gleefully lives up to its title and gives us Hiaasen at his riotous and muckraking best.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Carl Hiaasen is the reigning master of what Dave Barry recently dubbed "the Bunch of South Florida Wackos" school of crime fiction. His eight novels — of which Sick Puppy is the most outrageous — are grotesque, relentlessly funny accounts of greed and corruption that circle repeatedly around a common theme: the systematic despoliation of modern Florida.

Sick Puppy's convoluted plot springs from a single archetypal phenomenon: the multimillion-dollar real estate deal. This particular deal concerns ex-drug smuggler Robert Clapley and his ongoing attempts to "develop" yet another untouched Gulf Coast island, riding roughshod over its complex ecology and replacing its natural beauties with a full complement of yacht clubs, golf courses, and high-rise condominiums. Clapley's scheme is entirely dependent on the government's willingness to build a million bridge between the island and the Florida mainland. To facilitate the necessary legislation, Clapley secures the services of lobbyist and political fixer Palmer Stoat, inadvertently setting in motion an escalating series of bizarre events.

Palmer Stoat is a man with connections, a man who gets things done. In addition, he is a liar, a philanderer, and a phallocentric egotist with a weakness for imported cigars and "canned" big-game hunts. He is also, unfortunately for him, a litterbug. In the latter capacity, he attracts the attention of a good-hearted, slightly demented ecoterrorist named Twilly Spree. Twilly begins to stalk Palmer, punishing himinspectacular fashion for such petty infractions as tossing hamburgerwrappers out of his car window. Inevitably, Twilly learns that Palmer is a party to a much grander ecological crime: Robert Clapley's impending development of Shearwater Island. At that point, Twilly, who has always had a problem with "anger management," declares unconditional war against Palmer, his partners, and their shortsighted, self-serving schemes.

Twilly's war, which begins with the kidnapping of Palmer's black Labrador (the sick puppy of the title) and ends in the aftermath of a violent encounter with an ancient black rhinoceros named El Jefe, forms the substance of this extravagant entertainment, which is as notable for the vigor and variousness of its characters as it is for the twists and turns of its demented plot. And though Sick Puppy does contain its fair share of sympathetic characters — the perpetually angry Twilly Spree; Desirada "Desie" Stoat, Palmer's attractive, deeply disaffected wife; and a wonderfully characterized wild man (a recurring character in Hiaasen novels) named Skink, a former governor who has seceded from civilized society and declared his own private war against the despoilers of Florida — the novel is ultimately most notable for its richly imagined assortment of patented Hiaasen grotesques.

Foremost among these are Palmer Stoat, who believes, with some justification, that the world and its contents are for sale, and real estate developer Robert Clapley, whose sexuality is rooted in a fetishistic fascination with Barbie dolls. The supporting cast, which is equally off-the-wall, includes Dick Artemis, whose successful career as a Toyota salesman left him perfectly positioned for a second career as governor of Florida; Estella Hyde, a prostitute who will only have sex with registered Republicans; and Karl Krimmler, a rabid opponent of all things natural, a man whose personality was irrevocably warped by a childhood encounter with a hostile chipmunk. Finally, and most memorably, there is Mr. Gash, a professional hit man whose hobbies include sexual acts involving multiple partners and a custom-built trapeze, and who is an avid collector of uncensored recordings of 911 emergency calls.

Sick Puppy is Carl Hiaasen at his most flamboyant and unrestrained. In typical Hiaasen fashion, it is many things at once: thriller, comedy, diatribe, and satirical meditation on the endless varieties of human venality. Its very considerable humor is fueled, at all times, by anger and by an awareness of the simultaneous beauty and fragility of a natural world that is shrinking every day, eroded by the endless desire for power and profit, for "more, more, more, more." Like the best of Hiaasen's earlier work, Sick Puppy is a comedy with brains, heart, and teeth. It is a provocative, immensely entertaining novel, and it deserves the popularity it is doubtless about to achieve.

—Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, will be published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com) in the spring of 2000.
Boston Globe
Sick Puppy' follows the contradictory maxims that have become mainstays in Hiaasen's novels. Eccentric characters possess a veneer of realism. Each absurdity is so painfully close to reality it sometimes feels that Hiaasen, who is a Miami Herald columnist, is writing a news story instead of fiction.
Tom Nolan
Less romantic and more eccentric is Carl Hiassen's grotesquely amusing Sick Puppy Fans will not be disappointed.
Wall Street Journal
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Florida muckraker Hiaasen once again produces a devilishly funny caper revolving around the environmental exploitation of his home state by greedy developers. When budding young ecoterrorist Twilly Spree begins a campaign of sabotage against a grotesque litterbug named Palmer Stoat, he gets much more than he bargained for. Stoat is a political fixer, involved with a bevy of shady types: Dick Artemus, ex-car salesman, now governor; Robert Clapley, a crooked land developer with an unhealthy interest in Barbie dolls; and his business expediter, Mr. Gash, a permed reptilian thug with ghastly musical tastes: "All morning he drove back and forth across the old bridge, with his favorite 911 compilation in the tape deck: Snipers in the Workplace, accompanied by an overdub of Tchaikowsky's Symphony No. 3 in D Major." After a wave of preemptive strikes centered on a garbage truck and a swarm of dung beetles, Twilly ups the ante and kidnaps both Palmer's dog and his wife, Desie, who finds Twilly a great deal more interesting than her slob of a husband. In doing so Twilly uncovers a conspiracy (well, more like business as usual) to jam a bill through the Florida legislature to develop Toad Island, a wildlife sanctuary, in a deal that will make a mint for all the politicos concerned. Chapley wants Twilly silenced and dispatches Mr. Gash. Palmer wants his wife and dog back and asks Dick Artemus to help in the rescue without derailing the bill. Who should be called upon but the good cop/bad psycho duo of Trooper Jim Tile and ex-Governor Clinton Tyree, aka Skink or the Captain, whose recurring appearances throughout Hiaasen's novels have made for hysterical farce. While there may be nothing laughable about unchecked environmental exploitation, Hiaasen has refined his knack for using this gloomy but persistent state of affairs as a prime mover for scams of all sorts. In Sick Puppy, he shows himself to be a comic writer at the peak of his powers. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In typical Hiaasen fashion, this story involves corrupt, crazed, and powe-hungry Florida politicians accidentally pitted against quirky but innocent individuals. Twilly Spree is trying to save Florida from litterers, so when state lobbyist Palmer Stoat starts throwing trash from his Range Rover, he is incensed. The next time Stoat and his wife go out to dinner, Spree buries their BMW convertible in trash, but this fails to reform him. In continuing to pursue Stoat, Spree uncovers a pork barrel deal that will transform wild Toad Island into Sheerwater Resort. To stop the project Spree kidnaps the Stoats' family dog. The mayhem that follows includes kinky sex, bulldozers, hit men, a big game hunt, and an ex-governor turned ecoterrorist. In the end, good triumphs over evil. Hiaasen's hijinks are outrageous, unbelievable, and thought-provoking. The worrysome grains of truth and reality in the story give pause. Masterfully read by Edward Asner, this audio is recommended.--Joanna Burkhardt, Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Univ. of Rhode Island, Providence Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Joe Queenan
[B]egins with an absurd premise and then gets nuttier. . . . Among the delights of Sick Puppy are the subplots that enliven the proceedings.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446604666
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 71,843
  • Product dimensions: 6.76 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen is an award-winning investigative journalist and columnist for the Miami Herald.  He lives in the Florida Keys.

Biography

When one thinks of the classics of pulp fiction, certain things -- gruff, amoral antiheroes, unflinching nihilism, and a certain melodramatic self-seriousness -- inevitably come to mind. However, the novels of Carl Hiaasen completely challenge these pulpy conventions. While the pulp of yesteryear seems forever chiseled in an almost quaint black and white world, Hiaasen's books vibrate with vivid color. They are veritable playgrounds for wild characters that flout clichés: a roadkill-eating ex-governor, a bouncer/assassin who takes care of business with a Weed Wacker, a failed alligator wrestler named Sammy Tigertail. Furthermore, Hiaasen infuses his absurdist stories with a powerful dose of social and political awareness, focusing on his home turf of South Florida with an unflinching keenness.

Hiaasen was born and raised in South Florida. During the 1970s, he got his start as a writer working for Cocoa Today as a public interest columnist. However, it was his gig as an investigative reporter for The Miami Herald that provided him with the fundamentals necessary for a career in fiction. "I'd always wanted to write books ever since I was a kid," Hiaasen told Barnes & Noble.com. "To me, the newspaper business was a way to learn about life and how things worked in the real world and how people spoke. You learn all the skills -- you learn to listen, you learn to take notes -- everything you use later as a novelist was valuable training in the newspaper world. But I always wanted to write novels."

Hiaasen made the transition from journalism to fiction in 1981 with the help of fellow reporter Bill Montalbano. Hiaasen and Montalbano drew upon all they had learned while covering the Miami beat in their debut novel Powder Burn, a sharp thriller about the legendary Miami cocaine trade, which the New York Times declared an "expertly plotted novel." The team followed up their debut with two more collaborative works before Hiaasen ventured out on his own with Tourist Season, an offbeat murder mystery that showcased the author's idiosyncratic sense of humor.

From then on, Hiaasen's sensibility has grown only more comically absurd and more socially pointed, with a particular emphasis on the environmental exploitation of his beloved home state. In addition to his irreverent and howlingly funny thrillers (Double Whammy, Sick Puppy, Nature Girl, etc), he has released collections of his newspaper columns (Kick Ass, Paradise Screwed) and penned children's books (Hoot, Flush). With his unique blend of comedy and righteousness ("I can't be funny without being angry."), the writer continues to view hallowed Florida institutions -- from tourism to real estate development -- with a decidedly jaundiced eye. As Kirkus Reviews has wryly observed, Hiassen depicts "...the Sunshine State as the weirdest place this side of Oz."

Good To Know

Perhaps in keeping with his South Floridian mindset, Hiaasen keeps snakes as housepets. He says on his web site, "They're clean and quiet. You give them rodents and they give you pure, unconditional indifference."

Hiaasen is also a songwriter: He's co-written two songs, "Seminole Bingo" and "Rottweiler Blues", with Warren Zevon for the album Mutineer. In turn, Zevon recorded a song based on the lyrics Hiaasen had written for a dead rock star character in Basket Case.

In Hiaasen's novel Nature Girl, he gets the opportunity to deal with a long-held fantasy. "I'd always fantasized about tracking down one of these telemarketing creeps and turning the tables -- phoning his house every night at dinner, the way they hassle everybody else," he explains on his web site. "In the novel, my heroine takes it a whole step farther. She actually tricks the guy into signing up for a bogus ‘ecotour' in Florida, and then proceeds to teach him some manners. Or tries."

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    1. Hometown:
      Tavernier, Florida
    1. Education:
      Emory University; B.A., University of Florida, 1974

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Two



After three glasses of wine, Desie could no longer pretend to be following her husband's account of the canned rhinoceros hunt. Across the table she appraised Palmer Stoat as if he were a mime. His fingers danced and his mouth moved, but nothing he said reached her ears. She observed him in two dimensions, as if he were an image on a television screen: an animated middle-aged man with a slight paunch, thin blond hair, reddish eyebrows, pale skin, upcurled lips and vermilion-splotched cheeks (from too much sun or too much alcohol). Palmer had a soft neck but a strong chiseled chin, the surgical scars invisible in the low light. His teeth were straight and polished, but his smile had a twist of permanent skepticism. To Desie, her husband's nose had always appeared too small for his face; a little girl's nose, really, although he insisted it was the one he'd been born with. His blue eyes also seemed tiny, though quick and bright with self-confidence. His face was, in the way of prosperous ex-jocks, roundish and pre-jowly and companionable. Desie wouldn't have called Stoat a hunk but he was attractive in that gregarious southern frat-boy manner, and he had overwhelmed her with favors and flattery and constant attention. Later she realized that the inexhaustible energy with which Palmer had pursued their courtship was less a display of ardor than an ingrained relentlessness; it was how he went after anything he wanted. They dated for four weeks and then got married on the island of Tortola. Desie supposed she had been in a fog, and now the fog was beginning to lift. What in the world had she done? She pushed the awful question out of her mind, and whenshe did she was able to hear Palmer's voice again.


"Some creepo was tailing me," he was saying, "for like a hundred miles."


"Why?"


Her husband snorted. "To rob my lily-white ass, that's why."


"This was a black guy?" Desie asked.


"Or a Cuban. I couldn't see which," Stoat said, "but I tell you what, sweets, I was ready for the sonofabitch. Señor Glock was in my lap, locked and loaded."


"On the turnpike, Palmer?"


"He would have been one stone-dead mother."


"Just like your rhino," Desie said. "By the way, are you getting her stuffed like the others?"


"Mounted," Stoat corrected. "And just the head."


"Lovely. We can hang it over the bed."


"Speaking of which, guess what they're doing with rhinoceros horns."


"Who's they?" Desie asked.


"Asians and such."


Desie knew, but she let Palmer tell the story. He concluded with Durgess's fanciful rumor of two-day erections.


"Can you imagine!" Stoat hooted.


Desie shook her head. "Who'd even want one of those?"


"Maybe you might, someday." He winked.


Desie glanced around for the waiter. Where was dinner? How could it take so long to boil pasta?


Stoat poured himself another glass of wine. "Rhino horns, Holy Christ on a ten-speed. What next, huh?"


"That's why poachers are killing them off," his wife said.


"Yeah?"


"That's why they're almost extinct. God, Palmer, where have you been?"


"Working for a living. So you can sit home, paint your toenails and learn all about endangered species on the Discovery Channel."


Desie said, "Try the New York Times."


"Well, pardon me." Stoat sniffed sarcastically. "I read the newspaper today, oh boy."


This was one of her husband's most annoying habits, dropping the lyrics of old rock songs into everyday conversation. Palmer thought it clever, and perhaps it wouldn't have bothered Desie so much if occasionally he got the words right, but he never did. Though Desie was much younger, she was familiar with the work of Dylan and the Beatles and the Stones, and so on. In college she had worked two summers at a Sam Goody outlet.


To change the subject, she said: "So what did Dick Artemus want?"


"A new bridge." Stoat took a sideways bite from a sourdough roll. "No big deal."


"A bridge to what?"


"Some nowhere bird island over on the Gulf. How about passing the butter?"


Desie said, "Why would the governor want a bridge to nowhere?"


Her husband chuckled, spraying crumbs. "Why does the governor want anything? It's not for me to question, darling. I just take the calls and work my magic."


"A day in the life," said Desie.


"You got it."








Once, as a condition of a probation, Twilly Spree had been ordered to attend a course on "anger management." The class was made up of men and women who had been arrested for outbursts of violence, mostly in domestic situations. There were husbands who'd clobbered their wives, wives who'd clobbered their husbands, and even one grandmother who had clobbered her sixty-two-year-old son for blaspheming during Thanksgiving supper. Others of Twilly's classmates had been in bar fights, gambling frays and bleacher brawls at Miami Dolphins games. Three had shot guns at strangers during traffic altercations and, of those, two had been wounded by return fire. Then there was Twilly.


The instructor of the anger-management course presented himself as a trained psychotherapist. Dr. Boston was his name. On the first day he asked everyone in class to compose a short essay titled "What Makes Me Really, Really Mad." While the students wrote, Dr. Boston went through the stack of manila file folders that had been sent to him by the court. After reading the file of Twilly Spree, Dr. Boston set it aside on a corner of the desk. "Mr. Spree," he said in a level tone. "We're going to take turns sharing our stories. Would you mind going first?"




Twilly stood up and said: "I'm not done with my assignment."


"You may finish it later."


"It's a question of focus, sir. I'm in the middle of a sentence."


Dr. Boston paused. Inadvertently he flicked his eyes to Twilly's folder. "All right, let's compromise. You go ahead and finish the sentence, and then you can address the class."


Twilly sat down and ended the passage with the words ankle-deep in the blood of fools! After a moment's thought, he changed it to ankle-deep in the evanescing blood of fools!


He stuck the pencil behind one ear and rose.


Dr. Boston said: "Done? Good. Now please share your story with the rest of us."


"That'll take some time, the whole story will."


"Mr. Spree, just tell us why you're here."


"I blew up my uncle's bank."


Twilly's classmates straightened and turned in their seats.


"A branch," Twilly added, "not the main office."


Dr. Boston said, "Why do you think you did it?"


"Well, I'd found out some things."


"About your uncle."


"About a loan he'd made. A very large loan to some very rotten people."


"Did you try discussing it with your uncle?" asked Dr. Boston.


"About the loan? Several times. He wasn't particularly interested."


"And that made you angry?"


"No, discouraged." Twilly squinted his eyes and locked his hands around the back of his neck. "Disappointed, frustrated, insulted, ashamed -- "


"But isn't it fair to say you were angry, too? Wouldn't a person need to be pretty angry to blow up a bank building?"


"No. A person would need to be resolved. That I was."


Dr. Boston felt the amused gaze of the other students, who were awaiting his reaction. He said, "I believe what I'm hearing is some denial. What do the rest of you think?"


Twilly cut in: "I'm not denying anything. I purchased the dynamite. I cut the fuses. I take full responsibility."


Another student asked: "Did anybody get kilt?"


"Of course not," Twilly snapped. "I did it on a Sunday, when the bank was closed. That's my point -- if I was really pissed, I would've done it on a Monday morning, and I would've made damn sure my uncle was inside at the time."


Several other probationers nodded in agreement. Dr. Boston said: "Mr. Spree, a person can be very mad without pitching a fit or flying off the handle. Anger is one of those complicated emotions that can be close to the surface or buried deeply, so deeply we often don't recognize it for what it is. What I'm suggesting is that at some subconscious level you must've been extremely angry with your uncle, and probably for reasons that had nothing to do with his banking practices."


Twilly frowned. "You're saying that's not enough?"


"I'm saying -- "


"Loaning fourteen million dollars to a rock-mining company that's digging craters in the Amazon River basin. What more did I need?"


Dr. Boston said, "It sounds like you might've had a difficult relationship with your uncle."


"I barely know the man. He lives in Chicago. That's where the bank is."


"How about when you were a boy?"


"Once he took me to a football game."


"Ah. Did something happen that day?"


"Yeah," said Twilly. "One team scored more points than the other team, and then we went home."


Now the class was snickering and it was Dr. Boston's turn to manage his anger.


"Look, it's simple," Twilly said. "I blew up the building to help him grow a conscience, OK? To make him think about the greedy wrongheaded direction his life was heading. I put it all in a letter."


"Yes, the letter's in the file," said Dr. Boston. "But I noticed you didn't sign your name to it."


Twilly spread his hands. "Do I look like an idiot? It's against the law, blowing up financial institutions."


"And just about anything else."


"So I've been advised," Twilly muttered.


"But, still, at a subconscious level -- "


"I don't have a subconscious, Doctor. That's what I'm trying to explain. Everything that happens in my brain happens right on the surface, like a stove, where I can see it and feel it and taste the heat." Twilly sat down and began massaging his temples with his fingertips.


Dr. Boston said, "That would make you biologically unique in the species, Mr. Spree, not having a subconscious. Don't you dream in your sleep?"


"Never."


"Seriously."


"Seriously," Twilly said.


"Never once?"


"Not ever in my whole life."


Another probationer waved a hand. "C'mon, man, you never had no nightmares?"


"Nope," Twilly said. "I can't dream. Maybe if I could I wouldn't be here now."


He licked the tip of his pencil and resumed work on the essay, which he submitted to Dr. Boston after class. Dr. Boston did not acknowledge reading Twilly's composition, but the next morning and every morning for the following four weeks, an armed campus security guard was posted in the rear of the classroom. Dr. Boston never again called on Twilly Spree to speak. At the end of the term, Twilly received a notarized certificate saying he'd successfully completed anger-management counseling, and was sent back to his probation officer, who commended him on his progress.


If only they could see me now, Twilly thought. Preparing for a hijack.








First he'd followed the litterbug home, to one of those exclusive islands off Las Olas Boulevard, near the beach. Nice spread the guy had: old two-story Spanish stucco with barrel-tile shingles and vines crawling the walls. The house was on a cul-de-sac, leaving Twilly no safe cover for lurking in his dirty black pickup. So he found a nearby construction site -- a mansion going up. The architecture was pre-Scarface Medellín, all sharp angles and marble facings and smoked glass. Twilly's truck blended in nicely among the backhoes and cement mixers. Through the twilight he strolled back toward the litterbug's home, where he melted into a hedge of thick ficus to wait. Parked in the driveway next to the Range Rover was a Beemer convertible, top down, which Twilly surmised would belong to the wife, girlfriend or boyfriend. Twilly had a notion that made him smile.


An hour later the litterbug came out the front door. He stood in the amber light under the stucco arch and fired up a cigar. Moments later a woman emerged from the house, slowly backing out and pulling the door shut behind her; bending forward at the waist, as if saying good-bye to a small child or perhaps a dog. As the litterbug and his female companion crossed the driveway, Twilly saw her fanning the air in an exaggerated way, indicating she didn't much care for cigar smoke. This brought another smile to Twilly's face as he slipped from the hedge and hustled back to his truck. They'll be taking the ragtop, he thought. So she can breathe.


Twilly followed the couple to an Italian restaurant on an unscenic stretch of Federal Highway, not far from the seaport. It was a magnificent choice for what Twilly had in mind. Litterbug parked the convertible in true dickhead style, diagonally across two spaces. The strategy was to protect one's expensive luxury import from scratches and dings by preventing common folks from parking next to it. Twilly was elated to witness this selfish stunt. He waited ten minutes after the cigar-smoking man and cigar-hating woman had entered the restaurant, to make sure they'd been seated. Then he sped off on his quest.






Her stage name was Tia and she was already up on their table, already twirling her mail-order ponytail and peeling off her lacy top when the stink hit her like a blast furnace. Damn, she thought, did a sewer pipe break?


And the three guys all grins and high fives, wearing matching dark blue coveralls with filthy sleeves; laughing and smoking and sipping their six-dollar beers and going Tee-uh, izzat how you say it? Kinda name is Tee-uh? And all three of them waving fifties, for God's sake; stinking like buzzard puke and singsonging her name, her stage name, and slipping brand-new fifty-dollar bills into her G-string. So now Tia had a major decision to make, a choice between the unbelievable gutter-rot stench and the unbelievably easy money. And what she did was concentrate mightily on breathing through her mouth, so that after a while the reek didn't seem so unbearable and the truth was, hey, they were nice-enough guys. Regular working stiffs. They even apologized for stinking up the joint. After a few table dances they asked Tia to sit and join them because they had the wildest story for her to hear. Tia said OK, just a minute, and hurried to the dressing room. In her locker she found a handkerchief, upon which she sprinkled expensive Paris perfume, another unwanted gift from another smitten customer. She returned to the table to find an open bottle of the club's priciest champagne, which was almost potable. The crew in the dirty blue coveralls was making a sloppy toast to somebody; clinking their glasses and imploring Tia to sit down, c'mon, sit. Have some bubbly. They couldn't wait to tell her what had happened, all three chattering simultaneously, raising their voices, trying to take charge of the storytelling. Tia, holding the scented hankie under her nose, found herself authentically entertained and of course not believing a word they said, except for the part about their occupations, which they could hardly embellish, given the odor.


How come you don't believe we got our load hijacked! one of them exclaimed.


Because it's ridiculous, said Tia.


Really it was more of a trade, said one of his pals. The young man give us three grand cash and the use of his pickup and told us to meet back here in a hour.


Tia flared her eyebrows. This total stranger, he hands you three thousand bucks and drives off in a --


All fifties, one of the men said, waving a handful of bills. A grand each!


Tia, giggling through the handkerchief: You guys are seriously fulla shit.


No, ma'am, we ain't. We might smell like we are, but we ain't.




The one waving the fattest wad was talking loudest. What we told you, he said, that's the honest-to-God truth of how we come to be here tonight, watchin' you dance. And if you don't believe it, Miz Tee-uh, just come out back to the parkin' lot in about fifteen minutes when the boy gets back.


Maybe I will, said Tia.


But by then she was busy entertaining a table of cable-TV executives, so she missed seeing Twilly Spree drive up to the neon-lit strip club in a full-sized county garbage truck. When Twilly got out, one of the men in blue coveralls tossed him the keys to the black pickup.


"You guys go through all that dough I gave you?" Twilly asked amiably.


"No, but just about."


"And it was worth every dollar, I bet."


"Oh yeah."


Twilly shook hands with each of the men and said good-bye.


"Wait, son, come on inside and have just one beer. We got a lady wants to meet you."


"Rain check," said Twilly.


"No, but see, she don't believe us. She thinks we robbed the bingo hall or somethin'. That's how come you gotta come inside just for a minute, to tell her it's no bullshit, you paid us three grand to rent out the shitwagon."


Twilly smiled. "I don't know what you're talking about."


"Hey, man, where's the load? The truck, it looks empty."


"That's right," Twilly said. "There's nothing to haul to the dump. You guys can go straight on home tonight."


"But what happened to it?"


"Best you don't know."


"Oh Lord," one of the garbagemen muttered to his pals. "This is a crazy-ass boy. He's gone done some crazy-ass thing."


"No," Twilly said, "I believe you'd approve. I really do." Then he drove off, thinking how wrong Dr. Boston had been. Anger wasn't such a complicated emotion.






Palmer Stoat ordered an antipasto salad, garlic rolls, fettuccine Alfredo, a side of meatballs, and before long Desie had to look away, for fear of being sick. He was perspiring, that's how hard he went at the food; droplets of sweat streaking both sides of his jawline. Desie was ashamed of herself for feeling so revulsed; this was her husband, after all. It wasn't as if his personality had transformed after they got married. He was the same man in all respects, two years later. Desie felt guilty about marrying him, guilty about having second thoughts, guilty about the rhinoceros he'd shot dead that morning.


"From here to the salad bar," Stoat was telling her. "That's how close she was."


"And for that you needed a scope?"


"Better safe than sorry. That's Durgess's motto."


Stoat ordered tortoni for dessert. He used a fork to probe the ice cream for fragments of almonds, which he raked into a tidy pattern along the perimeter of the plate. Watching the fastidious ritual plunged Desie deeper into melancholy. Later, while Palmer reviewed the bill, she excused herself and went to the rest room, where she dampened a paper towel to wipe off her lipstick and makeup. She had no idea why, but it made her feel much better. By the time she finished, her husband was gone from the restaurant.


Desie walked outside and was nearly poleaxed by the smell. She cupped her hands to her mouth and looked around for Palmer. He was in the parking lot, beneath a streetlight. As Desie approached him, the odor got worse, and soon she saw why: a sour mound of garbage ten feet high. Desie estimated it to weigh several tons. Palmer Stoat stood at the base of the fetid hill, his eyes fixed lugubriously on the peak.


"Where's the car?" Desie asked with a cough.


Palmer's arms flopped at his sides. He began squeaking like a lost kitten.


"Don't tell me." She struggled not to gag on the stink. "Dammit, Palmer. My Beemer!"


Haltingly he began to circle the rancid dune. He raised an arm, pointing in outraged stupefaction. A cloud of flies buzzed about his face, but he made no effort to shoo them away.


"Goddammit," Desie cried. "Didn't I tell you to put the top up? Didn't I?"


From the Hardcover edition.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 167 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(105)

4 Star

(35)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(4)

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 167 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2008

    Sickly funny

    Sick Puppy is right up there with Skinny Dip in my opinion as one or two of this author's funniest books. But 'Sick' is truly twisted and witty. Not too many authors could handle this material and make it work. Great job, Carl.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    Graet book

    Like skinny dip. The characters are well developed. I had to laugh litterally out loud several times. Enjoyable at the very least!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    It is a great book

    I have read it and i could NEVER put it down i would highly recomend this book for you.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2006

    One of my all-time favorites!

    Hysterically funny and just an all-out fun ride! I rarely read a book twice, but this one I've come back to again and again. Skink is my choice for our next president!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2006

    Hysterical!!

    This was my first book by Carl Hiaasen and I am hooked. Living in Florida for 7 years and I can see where he gets his inspiration from!! One of the funniest authors out there!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2006

    Great Read

    I've been plugging through Hiaasen's books the last few weeks and have to admit this is one of my favorites. The occasional first person dialogue of Boodle/McGuinn (the black labrador dog that is stolen) is classic and worth the read by itself. And then there is Skink who has been introduced in previous novels (Double Whammy, Native Tongue). I love the crazy old guy more and more with each adventure. Only Hiaasen's warp mind can think of a character such as Skink. LOL. I plan to read this book many more times.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2005

    Can't put it down great reading!

    This is the first book by Carl Hiaasen I read and I was addicted. I made my husband read it as I knew he would love it, he did, and have read everything he has written since. I plan never to go to florida though and never to litter! Love Skink and can see a great movie in this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2004

    bestest ever

    the best book you will read for a long time!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2003

    Excellent Book!

    The book kept me wanting to read more and more!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2001

    Very entertaining read

    I was impressed! It was the first book I've read by this author but I will definitely go back for more! Interesting characters, entertaining plot, and a writing style that keeps you turning the pages. (I especially liked the Black Lab...) Great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2001

    Good, But a Bit Overlong

    'Sick Puppy' is a typical Carl Hiaasen novel--it has the mix we're used to of dumb politicians, greasy lobbyists, skanky hit men, the ever-resourceful 'Skink' and some plot devices to keep all these folks in conflict with each other (in this case, an evironmentally aware trust-fund millionaire, a lobbyist's highly conflicted wife and her black Labrador). This was an enjoyable book, but not one of his very best. At over 500 pages, it could have done with one or two fewer plot wiggles to keep the legendary Hiaasen astringency intact. It's a mixed blessing that we can refer to a 'typical' Carl Hiaasen novel; they are entertaining but seem to have settled into a formula.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2000

    One of his Best

    I have read all of Hiassens books. Loved them all, my personal favorite being Lucky You. He makes you see, feel and believe the characters and events in the books are real, and at the same time wondering how in the world they can be so outrageous.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2000

    A funny, funny book

    I always love a book that makes me laugh like an idiot on the subway as I'm reading it. This is one of those books. A vast cast of crazy characters and great one liners.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2000

    Might Be His Best

    I have read every Carl Hiaasen book since Tourist Season and look forward to my time reading them as a mental vacation. Hiaasen has made me love and see Florida in a way I never would have without benefit of his books. Sick Puppy is classic Hiaasen. The 911 tapes are comic genius. When reading them you can hear the terror stricken voices in your head. The paragraphs written from the dogs perspective give an incredibly realistic look into the brain of a black lab. I love how his characters accept the incredibly bizarre situations they find themselves in. Over the years, Hiaasen has given me, a middle aged, middle class white woman, a very intense and believable look into what it would be like to BE a drug addicted, uneducated, sex driven maniac living along the lower edges of society. I find myself thinking of Hiaasen characters as I read unbelievable news stories and think to myself 'How could someone DO that?' Until this, Double Whammy was my favorite Hiaasen book (the bug in the eye my favorite scene). I might move Sick Puppy to the top of the list.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2000

    very witty

    I am 15 years old and love to read. this book is funny in a crazy mad man kinda way. I recamend this book to anyone that can read. overall a great book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2000

    Outstanding

    Carl Hiaasen has written a very well crafted story about extreme people, left and right, Good and evil, and the and how it's hard to tell the difference sometimes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2014

    This is the second book from Carl Hiaasen (Bad Monkey) and while

    This is the second book from Carl Hiaasen (Bad Monkey) and while entertaining it felt a bit disjointed.  It started off and ended strong, but in the middle it seemed to lose focus a bit with all the intertwined stories.  Enjoyable slap stick comedy at times but at others times it just seemed like he was trying too hard to be outlandish just to be outlandish without adding a lot to the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2014

    NEW ADOPTION READ NOW

    Two pups a pup is a baby fury their names are Hope and Scout if you want to adopt them go to 'ethic' res 1 and talk to Bliss thank you and goodbye

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2014

    Connor

    -puts sally and jojo down so thet can play-

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2014

    Conner

    Well we have a huge selection of pups but not the new lab

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