"Miami is a fountain of inspiration for novels, particularly when you're as warped as I am."-Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen has dominated the South Florida crime fiction scene for some time now. He is also a columnist for the Miami Herald. He "has a fierce love for his native Florida, where he has watched development steadily rape the wilderness he grew up in"(Nintzel). Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez once declared that Hiaasen owed an apology to the entire human race.
"Somebody once told me of a graffiti on a bathroom wall in Orlando, 'Skip Wiley Lives!' To me, that is better than a rave in the NY Times."-Carl Hiaasen
It is sometimes hard to decide which character is the hero in Hiaasen's books. He uses two very different characters to represent different respectable ideals. By the end of the novel, it is made more obvious. Hiaasen creates characters that are more or less "conventional protagonists, former journalists turned private investigators who usually live and operate within the bounds of legality and convenional morality"(Jordan 64). This character serves as the moral compass of the book. Hiaasen then supplements this character with another one that "blithely violates social norms, yet remains at least partially sympathetic because of the environmental truths they espouse"(Jordan 64).
In Tourist Season, Hiaasen uses Brian Keyes as his traditional dectective-type hero. He is one of the most law-abiding characters in all of South Florida crime fiction. He also lacks a strong connection with the environment, which goes against the norms of the genre. This lack of environmental awareness and overwhelming respect for the law make Brian Keyes' character weak.
In addition to Brian Keyes, Hiaasen created Skip Wiley for Tourist Season. Skip Wiley has a fanatical concern for the environment, which is absolutely necessary for South Florida crime fiction. Wiley takes off on a mission to save South Florida. He compiles an elite team of revenge-seeking men to assist him in saving his homeland. His actions are often cruel, but the reader still sympathizes with him. "He's a fanatic who would sacrifice almost anyone for the sake of South Florida wilderness"(Jordan 64).
Songwriter Jimmy Buffett liked Hiaasen's Skip Wiley so much he wrote a song about him called 'The Ballad of Skip Wiley' on his Barometer Soup album. "I am pleased to say this song features the incredible vocal and hand clapping talents of Carl Hiaasen who penned the wonderful book Tourist Season that sent tremors through every Chamber of Commerce building in the state of Florida":
He's crazy and dangerous
But who else can you trust?
He's the outlaw in all of us
The environmental terrorist
"There is nothing wrong with Florida that a good Force Five hurricane can't fix."-Carl Hiaasen
In Hiaasen's Native Tongue, we are introduced to another fanatical environmentalist character, Skink. Skink lives in what is left of the wilderness in Florida. He has a glass eye and dines on road kill. He usually sports an orange jumpsuit with a flowered shower cap on his head. Much to the reader's surprise, Skink is actually "Clinton Tyree, the former governor of Florida, a man who was elected for his war-hero record and move-star smile"(Salon.com). Skink was run out of office for being the "one thing that the state's power structure could not absorb: an honest man"(Salon.com).
His Latest Novel
Hiaasen's newest novel is Sick Puppy. Skink is paired with another brilliant psycho named Twilly Spree. They embark on a wild journey filled with hostages, rhino horns, and plenty of road kill. Mmmm.