Star Island

Star Island

3.5 569
by Carl Hiaasen
     
 

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Meet 22-year-old Cherry Pye (née Cheryl Bunterman), a pop star since she was fourteen-and about to attempt a comeback from her latest drug-and-alcohol disaster.

Now meet Cherry again: in the person of her "undercover stunt double," Ann DeLusia. Ann portrays Cherry whenever the singer is too "indisposed"— meaning wasted — to go out in public.

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Overview

Meet 22-year-old Cherry Pye (née Cheryl Bunterman), a pop star since she was fourteen-and about to attempt a comeback from her latest drug-and-alcohol disaster.

Now meet Cherry again: in the person of her "undercover stunt double," Ann DeLusia. Ann portrays Cherry whenever the singer is too "indisposed"— meaning wasted — to go out in public. And it is Ann-mistaken-for-Cherry who is kidnapped from a South Beach hotel by obsessed paparazzo Bang Abbott.

Now the challenge for Cherry's handlers (über-stage mother; horndog record producer; nipped, tucked, and Botoxed twin publicists; weed whacker-wielding bodyguard) is to rescue Ann while keeping her existence a secret from Cherry's public — and from Cherry herself. The situation is more complicated than they know. Ann has had a bewitching encounter with Skink, the unhinged former governor of Florida living wild in a mangrove swamp, and now he's heading for Miami to find her . . .

Will Bang Abbott achieve his fantasy of a lucrative private photo session with Cherry Pye? Will Cherry sober up in time to lip-synch her way through her concert tour? Will Skink track down Ann DeLusia before Cherry's motley posse does? All will be revealed in this hilarious spin on life in the celebrity fast lane.

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
Mr. Hiaasen can still take any aspect of pop culture and find a laugh in it.
—The New York Times
Marilyn Stasio
Whenever it seems as if he might be running out of oxen to gore, Carl Hiaasen comes up with fresh victims for his killing wit…Trying to follow the plot, which involves a supporting cast of crooked politicians and predatory developers, is a little like walking a puppy. But the outlandish events soar on the exuberance of Hiaasen's manic style, a canny blend of lunatic farce and savage satire.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
The career of singer Cheryl Bunterman (aka Cherry Pye), who debuted with Jailbait Records at age 15, is foundering due to her lack of talent and indiscriminate appetite for drugs, booze, and sex in this outrageous, offbeat novel from Hiaasen (Nature Girl). Among those struggling to keep Cherry's career afloat are her mother, Janet Bunterman; producer Maury Lykes; and "undercover stunt double" Ann DeLusia, who will, say, mislead the press into thinking Cherry is out and about when she's really in rehab. Hiaasen has easy targets in misbehaving celebrity sightings, tabloid stalkings, and spin control experts, and he makes the most of them. Crooked real estate developer Jackie Sebago and paparazzo Bang Abbott, who plans to hitch his wagon to Cherry's star, add to the madcap fun. Mayhem follows after Bang kidnaps Ann instead of Cherry by mistake, and ex-Florida governor and eco-vigilante Clinton "Skink" Tyree, who was smitten with Ann after a chance encounter, rushes to her rescue. The torrent of pop culture barbs are bound to please Hiaasen's ardent fans. 500,000 first printing; 12-city author tour. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“Carl Hiaasen [is] Florida’s most entertainingly indignant social critic . . . He presents us with Cherry Pye, a 22-year-old pop star whose every display of narcissistic excess will send a frisson of horrified delight up your spine . . . The outlandish events soar on the exuberance of Hiaasen’s manic style, a canny blend of lunatic farce and savage satire.”
New York Times Book Review
 
“Does anyone remember what we did for fun before novelist Carl Hiaasen began turning out his satirical comedies one after another after another? . . . Star Island is a concoction worth the time of any reader who wants quality entertainment.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Hiaasen reclaims his groove in Star Island, a wicked, fizzy sendup of American celebrity culture . . . A very funny book about life in the fast lane.”
Boston Globe
 
“Fans of Carl Hiaasen will feel right at home when they plunge into Star Island. There’s the familiar collection of deliciously tawdry characters, each angling for a piece of the action in Florida . . . And there’s the fast-moving plot, and the writing that makes you laugh out loud . . . Hiaasen has turned out another gem. Readers of his previous novels can settle in for more wacky fun in the Florida sun.”
Associated Press
 
“A wild and fun Sunshine State ride.”
New York Post

“Hiaasen is at his gleeful best skewering the morally bankrupt. He has plenty to poke fun at here, from a reprehensible real-estate developer with an excruciating groin injury to twin publicists Botoxed within an inch of their lives. This is classic Hiaasen—demented, hilarious, and utterly over the top.”
Booklist (starred)

“An outrageous, offbeat novel . . . The torrent of pop culture barbs are bound to please Hiaasen’s ardent fans.”
Publishers Weekly 

Library Journal
At age 22, Cherry Pye is a fading pop star whose handlers, manager, and publicity gurus are trying frantically to orchestrate a comeback—with little help from Cherry—while keeping her fragile emotional state a closely guarded secret. The plan seems to be working until Cherry overdoses—again—and in the resulting melee, one of the ever-present paparazzi kidnaps Ann DeLusia, Cherry's stunt double, thinking he has the real star. A master at character creation, Hiaasen (Nature Girl) has amassed as weird a cast as ever graced Miami Beach, including a one-armed bodyguard with a unique prosthesis, an obsessed paparazzo whose unwashed state and obsession are an affront to all but Cherry, fraternal twins who have spent thousands of dollars to look identical, and Skink, the reclusive former governor of Florida, who lives in the wilderness of the Florida Keys and uses every ploy at his command to thwart development of the state's natural lands.Verdict This rollicking tour de force lampoons south Florida's celebrity subculture while including the obligatory environmental subplot for which Hiaasen is known. Highly recommended. [A 500,000-copy first printing; 12-city tour.]—Thomas L. Kilpatrick, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446556132
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
01/31/2012
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
261,704
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

1

On the fifteenth of March, two hours before sunrise, an emergency medical technician named Jimmy Campo found a sweaty stranger huddled in the back of his ambulance. It was parked in a service alley behind the Stefano Hotel, where Jimmy Campo and his partner had been summoned to treat a twenty-two-year-old white female who had swallowed an unwise mix of vodka, Red Bull, hydrocodone, birdseed and stool softener—in all respects a routine South Beach 911 call, until now.

The stranger in Jimmy Campo’s ambulance had two 35-mm digital cameras hanging from his fleshy neck, and a bulky gear bag balanced on his ample lap. He wore a Dodgers cap and a Bluetooth ear set. His ripe, florid cheeks glistened damply, and his body reeked like a prison laundry bag.

“Get out of my ambulance,” Jimmy Campo said.

“Is she dead?” the man asked excitedly.

“Dude, I’m callin’ the cops if you don’t move it.”

“Who’s with her up there—Colin? Shia?”

The stranger outweighed Jimmy Campo by sixty-five pounds but not an ounce of it was muscle. Jimmy Campo, who’d once been a triathlete, dragged the intruder from the vehicle and deposited him on the sticky pavement beneath a streetlight.

“Chill, for Christ’s sake,” the man said, examining his camera equipment for possible damage. Stray cats tangled and yowled somewhere in the shadows.

Inside the ambulance, Jimmy Campo found what he was looking for: a sealed sterile packet containing a coiled intravenous rig to replace the one that the female overdose victim had ripped from her right arm while she was thrashing on the floor.

The stranger struggled to his feet and said, “I’ll give you a thousand bucks.”

“For what?”

“When you bring her downstairs, lemme take a picture.” The man dug into the folds of his stale trousers and produced a lump of cash. “You gotta job to do, and so do I. Here’s a grand.”

Jimmy Campo looked at the money in the stranger’s hand. Then he glanced up at the third floor of the hotel, where his partner was almost certainly dodging vomit.

“Is she famous or somethin’?” Jimmy Campo asked.

The photographer chuckled. “Man, you don’t even know?”

Jimmy Campo was thinking about the fifty-two-inch high-def that he’d seen on sale at Brands Mart. He was thinking about his girlfriend on a rampage with his maxed-out MasterCard at the Dadeland Mall. He was thinking about all those nasty letters from his credit union.

“Whoever she is, she’s not dead,” he told the photographer. “Not tonight.”

“Cool.” The man continued to hold out the wad of hundreds in the glow of the streetlight, as if teasing a mutt with raw hamburger. He said, “All you gotta do, before loading her in the wagon, just pull down the covers and step away so I can get my shot. Five seconds is all I need.”

“It won’t be pretty. She’s a sick young lady.” Jimmy Campo took the crumpled money and smoothed it into his wallet.

“Is she awake at least?” the photographer asked.

“On and off.”

“But you could see her eyes in a picture, right? She’s got those awesome sea-green eyes.”

Jimmy Campo said, “I didn’t notice.”

“You really don’t know who she is? Seriously?”

“Who do you work for, anyway?”

“A limited partnership,” the man said. “Me, myself and I.”

“And where can I see this great picture you’re gonna take?”

“Everywhere. You’ll see it everywhere,” the stranger said.

Eighteen minutes later, Jimmy Campo and his partner emerged from the Stefano Hotel guiding a collapsible stretcher upon which lay a slender, motionless form.

The photographer was surprised at the absence of a retinue; no bodyguards or boyfriends or hangers-on. A lone Miami Beach police officer followed the stretcher down the alley. When the photographer began snapping pictures, the cop barely reacted, making no effort to shield the stricken woman from the flash bursts. That should have been a clue.

Sliding closer, the paparazzo intercepted the stretcher as it rolled with an oscillating squeak toward the open end of the ambulance. True to his word, Jimmy Campo tugged down the sheet and stepped away, leaving an opening.

“Cherry!” the photographer shouted at the slack face. “Cherry, baby, how ’bout a big smile for your fans?”

The young woman’s incurious eyes were open. They were not sea-green, mint-green, pea-green or any hue of green. They were brown.

“Goddammit,” the photographer growled, lowering his Nikon.

The woman on the stretcher grinned behind the oxygen mask and blew him a kiss.

Grabbing at Jimmy Campo’s arm, the photographer cried, “Gimme back my money!”

“Mister, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said the paramedic, elbowing the sweaty creep back into the shadows.

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Meet the Author

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida. He is the author of eleven previous novels, including the best-selling Nature Girl, Skinny Dip, Sick Puppy, and Lucky You, and three best-selling children's books, Hoot, Flush, and Scat. His most recent work of nonfiction is The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport. He also writes a weekly column for The Miami Herald.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Tavernier, Florida
Place of Birth:
South Florida
Education:
Emory University; B.A., University of Florida, 1974

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