For over twenty years, Carl Hiaasen has used satire and very black humour to savage the property-developers and corrupt politicians who have desecrated the natural beauty of his native Florida. With "Star Island", he still has those targets in his sights, but he broadens his field of fire to include paparrazzi photographers, talentless pop star princesses, showbiz mothers, sleazy promoters, tattooists and the sort of woman who insists on taking a small dog with her whenever she travels. The rolling plot is a wonderfully silly series of bungled kidnappings, bungled attempts at rehab, bungling bodyguards trying to keep order and an eerie pair of public relations divas (twins straight out of "Children of the Damned") trying to keep a lid on things. At its centre is the odious Cherry Pye, a wannabee but talentless pop star who is drawn magnetically to anything which might be a mind-altering substance, from alcohol to presecription medecines (and including laxatives and birdseed along the way). In previous books, Hiaasen has used over-amorous dolphins, rabid pit-bulls, stuffed marlins and American crocodiles as weapons of violence. This time he reserves his sadism for a crooked property developer who discovers, very painfully, the rough end of a sea-urchin. Nature can be beautiful, but also red in tooth and claw, or at least spine. This is vintage Hiaasen: alternatively cruel and then warmly generous, outrageously gross in parts, cutting and always very, very funny.
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