Picks and Pans Review: Strip Tease

updated 08/23/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/23/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Carl Hiaasen

Incompetent, corrupt, lascivious, possibly insane—adjectives fail to conjure David Dilbeck, a Florida congressman who sometimes likes to grease himself from head to toe with Vaseline and dress up in cowboy gear. Out of costume one evening, the deranged Dilbeck comes to the defense of a Fort Lauderdale stripper, jumps onstage to throttle one of the joint's customers. Before long the congressman is the subject of a blackmail plot.

Hiaasen, who in his previous novels Tourist Season and Native Tongue applied his vicious wit to those who contaminate the natural beauty of his state, here pounces on politicians. Dilbeck owes his job to the sugar industry, but thanks to his little weakness ("I should never be around naked women"), he also retains a swarm of political fixers—most notably, Malcolm B. (Moldy) Moldowsky, who keeps a portrait of the "severely maligned" former Attorney General John Mitchell in his front hall.

Hiaasen's unlikely heroes include stripper Erin Grant, who is desperate to wrest custody of her daughter from her ex-con ex-husband, and a bald, lumbering bouncer named Shad. (When not protecting the dancers at the Eager Beaver bar, Shad imbeds roaches in containers of yogurt—always hoping for that one big lawsuit score.) Joining detective Al Garcia, a guy who just wants to finish one fishing trip without catching a corpse, the two manage to bring down Dilbeck's monied network.

Rough, raucous and filled with lovable losers, Strip Tease is a caper novel for readers not afraid to laugh out loud. (Knopf, $21)

From Our Partners