Carl Hiaasen's Sick Puppy and Michael Connelly's Void
Carl Hiaasen is a weird, sick, hilarious guy and his new
novel, Sick Puppy, is aptly titled.
Michael Connelly, in contrast, is a promising writer who
tries to write great thrillers but doesn't quite succeed with his latest
effort. Sick Puppy's hero, if you want to call him that, is Twilly Spree, a
rich, weird young man who is so passionate about doing right that he often
does, well, wrong.
So when he sees rich Florida lobbyist Palmer Stout littering
while driving, Spree thinks nothing of putting dung beetles in Stout's car. And
when he realizes that Stout is involved in plans to turn a wilderness island
into a residential development Spree gets even more pissed and kidnaps Stout's
Yes, Spree is one sick puppy.
But he's also an appealing character who is just outraged at
how people treat animals and the environment.
And so when Stout's wife, sick of her husband's obsessions
with cigars and taking polaroids of the two of them having sex, gets to know
Spree she has an unusual request: She wants to be kidnapped too. And off the
book goes in many wacky directions at once.
Some of the book's characters are new, including a
prostitute who only has sex with Republicans, and a male lobbyist who has an
obsession with Barbie dolls. But others are recurring from earlier Hiaasen
A former Florida governor named Skink, who now lives in the
woods, is blackmailed by the present governor and forced to try to track down
and catch Spree. This despite Spree and the former governor having much in
common, namely environmental activism and being a few tacos short of a Mexican
Yes, this is not your normal book. It's unusual, oft
hilarious and good fun. Expect that people will look at you weird as you
chuckle while reading it.
Connelly's book isn't funny but it's not supposed to be.
Unfortunately it's not the exciting thriller Connelly wants either.
Six years ago Cassie Black was forced to quit her job
pulling cons in Las Vegas when her partner, boyfriend and mentor was caught and
killed while doing a job at a Vegas casino.
Black went to jail as an accomplice and as the book starts
she has been out of jail for less than 10 months. Black is now restless and
finding that selling Porsches in Hollywood just doesn't have the same
adrenaline rush or bring the same thrills to her as a life of crime did. So she
now decides to go back in Vegas, trying to do one large job and than leave the
world of crime behind forever.
Her mark, the target, is a guy with a briefcase containing
about $600,000. She has the equipment to break into his room and steal the loot
before he wakes.
An old friend, the guy who gives her the tip on the con,
made a simple request before she left: Avoid the void moon, which he says is a
bad astrological situation There was a void moon when her partner was killed,
he adds. In this case the void moon comes for an hour while her mark is
But due to some surprises, she didn't obey that request and,
of course, all hell breaks loose.
She soon realizes there was much she did not know about the
situation - how much was really in the case, where the key was and whose money
it really was.
But around the time she starts to realize she hasn't been
clued into the whole scheme the reader realizes the poor schmuck is now dead
(and we don't know if she did it) and casino officials are going to stop at
nothing to get it back.
Connelly, a former Los Angeles Times crime reporter, is a
writer with great potential but his last few books, including this one, don't
meet the suspense, depth and creativity of his far better, breakthrough book,
If you want to read a great thriller, check out that one. If
you want a less impressive, though quick read, then read "Void Moon."
Scott Butki is a government reporter in
Hagerstown, Md. During the winter he hunkers down in bed and reads a