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Star Island

Star Island

3.5 569
by Carl Hiaasen, Stephen Hoye (Read by)

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Meet twenty-two-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


Meet twenty-two-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.

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

Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
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5.24(w) x 5.74(h) x 1.17(d)

Read an Excerpt


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.

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

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

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Star Island 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 569 reviews.
Gybe More than 1 year ago
Carl Hiaasen's "Star Island" is a return to his core novels (Skin Tight, Tourist Season, et al), that put him in my library. For the past few years, he has written Young Adult novels plus one about his experience attempting golf. Entertaining, but not the reason I read Hiaasen. Skink, the one-eyed former Governor, and Chemo w/weed-whacker as prosthesis return in "Star Island" But, Hiaasen is out of practice after the other novels. Star Island is a good read but a bit stale for Hiaasen. Let's hope that he returns to his wacky glory days of the early novels.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
You know what they say confession is good for...so here I go: I'm a huge fan of Carl Hiaasen, hence this probably will not be an unbiased review. He always makes me smile, and I'm constantly amazed by his imagination, his productivity. After all, this is an author who not only pens bestsellers, but popular children's books, and writes a weekly column for The Miami Herald. If he has a vitamin regime - hope he'll share it. Second, there is another admission: I'm about to become a fan of Stephen Hoye's. He delivers an apt, easy listening narration of STAR ISLAND. Would imagine that Hiaasen's works are not the easiest to read - one must have the proper inflections for all the zingers delivered and a trained voice that can easily move from character to character without missing a beat - another challenging task because as has been shown this author's characters are really outre. Hoye succeeds in all areas. With STAR ISLAND Hiaasen takes on the celebrity life - to be precise the rollicking, ruinous life of over-the-hill alcohol and drug prone pop star Cherry Pie. Quite obviously, Cherry can be a bit of a handful for her producer who still marvels at her success when she has no discernible talent. Nonetheless, it will do her sagging career no good when she's too spaced out to make a public appearance. What's her stage mom supposed to do? Solution? Hire an actress to impersonate Cherry when she's "unavailable." Of course, it takes more than a producer and mom to keep the randy, reeling Cherry in line - there are twin publicists (well,, not actually twins but plastic surgery does wonders); a big, ugly bodyguard called Chemo; a determined paparazzo; and Clinton Tyree (former governor of Florida now hiding out in a swamp). The plot is driven by a multitude of hilarious, impossible situations. Hiaasen, it seems, can make even the most outrageous funny, and he does it once again with gusto in STAR ISLAND. Enjoy! - Gail Cooke
harstan More than 1 year ago
Singer Cheryl Bunterman alias Cherry Pye began her career as a fifteen year old at Jailbait Records. Besides her lack of any talent, Cherry cannot stop her addictions for sex, drugs, and booze. Her singing career seems tanked. However, several people have a deep interest in Cherry's career remaining afloat. Her mother Janet Bunterman, her producer Maury Lykes and her double Ann DeLusia like the money. That is why Ann is seen about the town while Cherry is in rehab. Also interested in Cherry are developer Jackie Sebago and paparazzo Bang Abbott, as each sees money to be made from the crooner who cannot sing. Bang kidnaps Ann thinking she is Cherry by mistake while the former Florida governor Clinton "Skink" Tyree, who fell in love at first sight with Ann or is Ann as Cherry plans to rescue his darling. This is a superb satire that lampoons the celebrity frenzy that grips Americans. The story line rips the media for how easily they are suckered by spin doctors, and the tabloid reporters for stalking the famous even placing people in danger doing so while claming their First Amendment rights, and their readers for supporting the stalking. Also gutted is the celeb retinue and hanger-ons who are there when the money and fame are there, but vanish when the star novas. This is a winner as Carl Hiaasen leaves no prisoners in his version of "Fame". Harriet Klausner
Drewano More than 1 year ago
Another fun installment in the Skink series. If you’ve read the others then you’ll know what to expect here, but you can always enjoy it! A new addition to this series is Chemo who was previously featured in the Mick Strahan series. Well written and funny ‘Star Island’ in a fun south Florida romp.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love writer,s involved stories
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Lance_Charnes More than 1 year ago
Carl Hiaasen returns to form by switching up. Star Island gives the author's despoliation-of-Florida theme a rest by providing him with another target for his considerable store of outrage: pop celebrity. The chief offender is Cheryl "Cherry Pye" Bunterman, a teenage Britney manque with a singing voice "like a sack of starving kittens" and a dysfunctional entourage that enables (and covers up) her many assaults on common sense. Her perfect foil is overweight, self-deluded paparazzo Bing Abbott. Together, they'll make you fear for the future of the species. Hiaasen has plowed this turf before (ten years ago, in Basket Case), but here he lets out the stops. He doesn't need to condemn Cherry, her clueless parents, conniving twin PR gurus, or the "maggot mob" of paparazzi; he simply gets out of their way and through pitch-perfect portraits lets them hang themselves with their own words and actions. A few stock Hiaasen characters show up -- the grotesque sociopathic thug, the venal real-estate developer -- but at least there's no obvious stand-in for the author, which relieves the plot of some of the fantasy wish-fulfillment tropes that have marred some of his more recent works. Star Island is crazy, profane, nasty fun. If you've had your fill of reality-TV "personalities" and marginally talented "entertainers", you should enjoy watching them get skewered in this book. If you're already a Hiaasen fan, you'll enjoy seeing him break out of his formula and regain his satirical mojo. Either way, enjoy the ride. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Star Island has become my favorite Hiaasen work to date. I love his irreverent take on the life of a spoiled pop princess and the lengths her entourage go through to keep the divas music selling career afloat. To me it was very easy to get through this book, filled with Hiaasens witty writing. His colorful characters always bring something fun to the table, and the cast here does no different. To me it is easy to imagine that there are numerous Cherry Pyes in todays music biz. Also loved the reappearance of Skink and Chemo. Fantastic read. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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SusyBeast More than 1 year ago
I first read Hiaasen when I read Bad Monkey. It was so wild and funny, that I've started reading his other books and will continue until I read them all. Fun, wacky, fast-paced reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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donnfo More than 1 year ago
Another typically wacky story from Hiassen. This was a fast read, good for the beach. The author has a super competitor now, Tim Dorsey, who writes the wonderful Serge Storms novels. Plenty of fun to go around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe if you can buy into an improbable premise with wildly exaggerated characters that can only exist in the author's mind, you might enjoy it. I struggled to finish the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm the kind of reader that sticks with a book. I give it time to develop....however, this was a very hard book to finish. It was exceedingly tedious!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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