Carl Hiaasen’s “Striptease” (Book Review)
Once again, we enter the mind of popular Florida author and columnist Carl Hiaasen. This time, we enter a fictional world, rather than his observations of Florida’s happenings. The novel, Striptease, takes us into the seedy underworld of strip clubs where we meet our main character, Erin Grant. She’s a single woman fighting to get custody of her daughter back from her sleezy ex-husband. David is a con artist who is using their daughter to steal wheelchairs, which he later sells for big bucks. The only way Erin can afford to fight her ex and the corrupt judge on her case is to work at a local strip club. She’s considered one of the best dancers in the place, but doesn’t like what she does.
Along the way, she gets pulled into the often scandalous world of politics thanks to a regular club goer who becomes taken by her. Meanwhile, bouncer Shad is doing everything he can to help out Erin while pursuing his dream- cleaning up big time via a lawsuit. All his schemes end up getting sabotaged unknowingly by other people he comes into contact with. We also get to meet other dancers and watch a war unfold between Orly (Erin’s boss) and the Ling brothers (owners of a competing club).
We also meet the “honorable” David Dilbeck, a congressman who was clearly molded after the crooked politicians Hiaasen so often criticizes in his Herald columns. Dilbeck has an addiction to women and is a good friend of the sugar industry (yet another thing Hiaasen calls out often). He’s up for re-election but various extra curricular activities are in danger of coming out, much to the annoyance of his puppet master, Malcolm Moldovsky. Moldowsky is determined to make sure Dilbeck’s activities are not exposed and goes to extraordinary lengths to shut people up.
With Striptease (later made into a movie starring Demi Moore as Erin), Carl Hiaasen created an engaging and vivid world that keeps those pages turning until it’s over. The story has it all- a struggling mother doing whatever she has to to get her child back, turf wars, murder, corrupt politicians and more. You won’t be sorry you picked it up. Readers who are from South Florida will love the fact Hiaasen was careful to name many local roads and landmarks as well, giving people from other areas a bit of a tour of the area. Again… this is definitely a page turner.
Make sure you have most of your day free before picking this one up- you’ll hate having to drag yourself away.
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