thursday's book; Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen (Macmillan, pounds 16.99)

If you start your career with a couple of books as alarmingly funny and original as Hiaasen's first Florida black comedies, Tourist Season and Double Whammy, it's an unfortunate fact that, after a while, people are going to start complaining that you're repeating yourself. With that in mind, perhaps the easiest thing here would be to write two separate reviews. The first should be marked "for new readers only" and it should commend the pace, outrageous characterisation, surreal humour and political bite that leaps off every page of Lucky You, a caper woven around the adventures of two winning tickets from the Florida state lottery.

The two tickets, this first review should explain, entitle the holders to equal shares of a $28 million jackpot. The first belongs to a Ms JoLayne Lucks, a 35-year-old black veterinary nurse. The second, unfortunately, is picked by a pair of white supremacists who get it into their heads that they would like the other ticket too, and promptly beat and burgle the unfortunate Ms Lucks.

First-time readers can thrill to the chase as JoLayne and bored newsman Tom Krome pursue the neo-Nazis through the Florida swamps, and gasp as nature wreaks a hideous vengeance. Especially the bit with the giant blue crab.

The second review, for those already familiar with Hiaasen's work, should go more like this. Lucky You, in common with Hiaasen's last three or four books, sees him coasting. The themes that were so fresh a decade ago - the surreal madness of life in South Florida, the evil of developers, the dangerous violence of Florida rednecks, the venality of TV evangelists, doctors, lawyers - are now close to cliches. His stock characters (the wild newspaperman, the plucky thirtysomething heroine) are likewise getting a little too familiar.

The result is that a lot starts to depend on the plot being interesting. Lucky You, however, is the closest Hiaasen has come to a formula thriller. And the trouble with this formula - good guys and bad guys both chasing after the same pot of gold - is that we're never in much doubt as to who is going to win.

Along the way, of course, there's as much incident as ever. Easily the best scenes are those set in JoLayne's hometown of Grange, Florida, a community single-mindedly engaged in constructing bogus religious artefacts to fleece passing tourists. The 12 turtles with their shells depicting the Apostles are a particular stroke of genius.

Less appealing are the redneck Nazis, a stereotype that has been done to death in recent years. And experienced readers may feel that the dead- crab-attached-to-the-redneck's-arm scene reminds them more than a little of the dead-pitbull-attached-to-the psychopath's-arm sequence in Double Whammy.

All of which adds up to saying that, by most people's standards, Lucky You is as fast and funny a thriller as you could wish for. By Hiaasen's own standards, however, it's no more than so-so.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there