Stormy Weather

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Carl Hiaasen is a native of Florida and—since 1976—he has worked for THE MIAMI HERALD. He began as an investigative reporter for the newspaper, but in 1985, he also became a columnist. Hiaasen has co-authored three novels with William D. Montalbano. Since 1986, he has authored six novels on his own, including STORMY WEATHER. South Florida, and specifically Miami, is a region that Hiaasen seems to know like the back of his hand. He cares very deeply about his part of the world, and this is made evident in all of his novels. Hiaasen is very adept at using satire in order to take bites out of greedy land developers, corrupt government officials, and unscrupulous tourists. Anyone who does not have Florida’s best interests at heart is a prime target for Hiaasen’s rapier wit.

In STORMY WEATHER, a powerful hurricane hits south Florida. With this terrible calamity as a backdrop, various character set about to come to terms with the catastrophe. There are characters who can best be described as predators, and they do their best to exploit the situation. One particular young woman, Edie Marsh, had had high hopes of sleeping with a Kennedy family member living in Palm Beach, but that scheme did not work. Without missing a heartbeat, Marsh comes up with an insurance scam with some assistance from a violent ex-convict, Lester Maddox Parsons (known as “Snapper”). Within STORMY WEATHER, there are a myriad of plot twists clamoring for center stage, but clearly Hiaasen is in complete control of all the elements. In addition to the criminals, there is a newlywed couple, Max Lamb and Bonnie Lamb, who split up because the groom would rather take photographs of the hurricane than go to Walt Disney World with his bride. There is also a former governor of Florida known as “Skink” who lives in the swamp. He kidnaps Max Lamb in order to drive home the point to Lamb that the natural ecology of Florida must be preserved. The various characters and the subplots that they inhabit eventually intersect in the novel. With the skill of a master satirist, Hiaasen has written a wonderfully amusing story, while exposing the ethical shortcomings of those who really do not have Florida’s best interests at heart.