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4.0 out of 5 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars


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As another reviewer mentions, Tourist Season was Carl Hiaasen's first novel, published back in 1986. As such it sets the template for most of his subsequent works. There's the cast of off-beat characters, the twisting, convoluted plotting and the focus on the damage being done to Florida's environment by rapacious unchecked development.

As with many debut novels however, all these ingredients aren't distilled down into the deceptively smooth product that later Hiaasen novels would become. For example there are plenty of odd-ball characters on display but they don't all work that well. One of the strengths of some of Hiaasen's later novels is that even the bad guys, means, crazy and/or stupid as they often are, will be entertaining company. In Tourist Season I struggled to warm to Skip Wiley or any of his henchmen. Brian Keyes, the book's nominal hero, also failed to jump of the page for me and remained an insubstantial figure.

The plot too lacked the finesse of Hiassen's best work, remaining jumpy and episodic throughout. As a black farce it just about worked but there wasn't tight, screwball pacing and plotting of books such as Basket Case or Skinny Dip. The tone of the novel also felt inconsistent. Wiley and his cohort are painted as a genuinely unpleasant and murderous group, responsible for the nasty deaths of several entirely innocent people, yet at times the book seemed almost sympathetic to them and their cause.

Finally and most damagingly I found that what really let Tourist Season down was the scarcity of genuine laughs to be had whilst reading it. Hiaasen isn't an author of laugh out loud novels but most of his books that I have read have prompted chuckles and genuine amusement. Tourist Season however, failed to raise more than the odd smile. Unlike many of Hiaasen's later books Tourist Season lacks the warmth necessary to offset the violence and examples of human greed and folly on display.

Its also worth pointing out that, twenty-four years after it was first published, Tourist Season feels very much like a period piece. The Florida it portrays, if you have any familiarity with the place, really no longer exists. Nor does the journalistic world that features so centrally in the plot. This makes the whole book feel somewhat anachronistic and robs the satire of some of its bite.

This is probably one for Hiassen fans only. You can see in it the foundations for later, better novels but as a reading experience in its own right Tourist Season is somewhat lacking.
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on 14 July 2008
Keyes is an ex-reporter turned PI whose usual cases has him sitting outside a motel spying on a cheating lover. However, he is given a ticket to the big leagues when he is hired by a lawyer to help a client who is innocently caught up in a bizarre murder. A prominent member of the Miami PR has been found dead in a suitcase with a toy crocodile in his mouth. This is only the first in a series of bizarre murders. Can Keyes uncover the truth before a massacre occurs and what does this all have to do with his old days at the news desk?

Cark Hiaasen writes very dark and very funny crime novels normally set around Miami with messages about the environment and corporate greed. This is exactly the same in 'Tourist Season', but unlike the majority of his books I believe that Hiaasen's tone is well off here. He places too much sympathy onto the bad guys in this book; I for one could not like them - they are murderers. This wonky tone also alienated me from Keyes for a long time as his infatuation with a particular woman is very annoying and undermines him. I felt that Hiaasen was condoning some of the violence in this book and that made me unable to enjoy the humour. As a fan of the author this is the one and only time I have seen him make these mistakes - I assume that he improved with the later novels I read.
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on 31 January 2001
If you are riding a plane coast to coast or out to Maui or the Virgin Islands then take along a copy of Carl Hiasen's "Tourist Season". You will enjoy the cast of characters come tumbling straight out of a Florida hurricane's whirlwind. The plot twists and turns like a current thru the Everglades. And watch out if you think you know what is going to happen next, because you really don't!
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on 13 October 2005
Not my first of his books but his first and in my view the best. Very funny, with some great characters and some good plot twists.
His "lets save Florida" is still relevant while the heroes and villians are more ambigious than is commonly seen.
Great ending too.
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VINE VOICEon 30 July 2009
One of the hardest novels to write is a good comedy crime thriller. The balance between the serious nature of crime and the comedy element is hard to achieve. Many have tried and very few have succeeded.

Tourist Season is one such success. The story centres on the actions of a terrorist group called "las Noches de Diciembre" and their plan to rid Florida of it's plague of tourists. However, the four terrorists each have their own agenda, and are only held together by their charismatic leader, El Fuego.

Opposing them are a private eye, a Cuban policeman and a newspaper editor, who not only have to stop Las Noches, but also face opposition from the Miami chamber of commerce who dread any hint of Bad Publicity.

The fact that the cause of Las Noches de Diciembre is a just one, makes it hard to dislike them, and also asks the reader whether it is acceptable to do bad deeds for a good cause.

Tourist Season has some great characters, some very funny moments and is a joy to read. The pages just fly by. There are not the plot twists and Whodunnit? elements of a standard crime novel, but the black comedy more than makes up for it.
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on 2 September 2002
Tourist season is Carl Hiassen's first novel, the point he makes in this book and in all his books is very very simple: Florida Stinks. This may lead you to believe that these books are nothing but 700 page rants against the tourists who flock to florida, the developers who are destroying the natural beauty of the everglades and the politicians who do nothing to stop the raping of the land. He is getting at these people, but he does it well. His books aren't political essays, they're not anti-tourist brochures, they're novels. He uses fiction to show with exocet-like proficiency how corrupt and filthy Florida is. He does this in all his books, but all his books are different. He has some recurring characters; Al Garcia, Skink, Jim Tile. But the books don't need to be read in sequence. Tourist season is, as you might guess, about tourists. In fact it is a book showing how the developers and government officials pander to the tourists whim, building high-rises in Nature preserves to let them enjoy nature. All his books turn the spotlight on one area of Florida's problems, but in all of them he show's how the state is being concreted to hell. All in all, this is a briliant first novel, and they just keep getting better.
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on 7 October 2007
This is the Carl Hiaasen we know. He turns his black comedy and satire as it relates to the ever current problem of the influx of people to South Florida. A Shriner disappears leaving only his fez behind. Another local business booster is found dead with an toy alligator in his throat. You will start to want to see what the villain of the story does next, for he is more interesting than the hero. You will not want to put this book down.

What I also like about his books is if you know a bit about South Florida you can see these things really happening. I did not want to give the plot away, for their are some twist and turns you will enjoy. And the title of the book is highly suggestive. So if you want a fun read, open "Tourist Season".
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on 24 July 2015
I started buying Hiaasen books from charity shops because these are the books that inspired Christopher Brookmyre. And i can totally see it. It's funny and witty, and it has crime. I couldn't like this book as much as any Brookmyre, though. And that's because it's American. If the spellings hadn't've annoyed me, the references-i-don't-get would have. Also, Brookmyre's characters are ten times better. I cared for no one in the book. But still enjoyable overall nonetheless.
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on 25 December 2006
I started reading Hiaasen with SKINNY DIP, which is definitely his best so far. I didn't realise that TOURIST SEASON was his first novel until after I had read it it and was surprised to feel a little disappointed in its pacing. Now that I know its place in his career, it is much more interesting, as this is where all the familar themes started. It's still a good read and, at times, very funny.
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on 9 November 2015
Carl Hiaasen never disappoints, always lots of fun to read. Keep them coming!
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