Strip Tease

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Congressman David Dilbeck has a problem—he cannot control himself when near beautiful naked women. Unfortunately for him, he has a desperate fondness for them that he indulges at exotic dance clubs in his native Florida. As STRIP TEASE opens, he attempts to protect one of the dancers at a club from another patron, Paul Guber, who has become physically demonstrative in his drunken passion. Dilbeck bashes the other man on the head with an empty Korbel bottle, sending him to the hospital.

This act of dubious chivalry is noted by several people in the club. Another patron, known to the dancers as Mr. Peepers, recognizes the congressman despite his disguise and attempts to blackmail Dilbeck. He does not want money; instead, he wants Dilbeck to use his influence on behalf of Erin Grant, the dancer whose honor Dilbeck protected and with whom Mr. Peepers believes he is in love. Dilbeck, however, has the protection of Malcolm Moldowsky, a famed political fixer. Moldowsky’s solution to the problem leaves Mr. Peepers dead.

The blackmail does not stop there. Guber’s fiancee discovers the congressman’s involvement and plots with her lawyer to negotiate a generous settlement for Guber’s injuries. Shad, the bouncer at the dance club, attempts his own blackmail scheme through the same lawyer. Erin Grant wants to ruin the congressman after she discovers his involvement in Mr. Peepers’ death.

The web of plot lines, though involving several gruesome deaths, is uproariously comic. Hiaasen ties up the lines nicely, giving most of the characters what they either desire or deserve, through devices that are sheer genius. Readers will find themselves rooting for Erin Grant as she tries to get custody of her daughter back from her drug-abusing ex-husband, who supports himself by stealing wheelchairs; they will just as heartily cheer the downfall of the sexually twisted Congressman Dilbeck.