cover image Skin Tight

Skin Tight

Carl Hiaasen. Putnam Publishing Group, $18.95 (319pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13489-0

Hiaasen's latest thriller is his funniest and sharpest novel to date. Set in a south Florida swarming with ripoff artists, crooked cops, nude sunbathers and corrupt politicians, it features a Mafia-connected plastic surgeon with butterfingers, a bitchy Hollywood starlet, a remarkably inept hit man and a pompous TV journalist ``nationally famous for getting beaten up on camera.'' Retired state investigator Mick Stranahan, the hero, kills an intruder in his seaside house on stilts by impaling him with a trophy spearfish. Then one of his five ex-wives is found drowned. Due to an unresolved missing-person case, someone wants Stranahan eliminated, and his efforts to flush out the mixed bag of bad guys let Hiaasen ( Tourist Season ; Double Wham my ) display his manic sense of humor at every turn. The cynical sleuth has just the right mix of sour and smarts to get a fix on a mad world. This wickedly amusing story is the work of a keen satirist who off-handedly exposes the moral rot at every level of society. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (Sept.)