Tourist Season - Carl Hiaasen
"Hiaasen is one of America's finest satirists. Brookmyre is Britain's."
With this quote appearing on the front of most Brookmyre novels, it was only a matter of time before I gave this Hiaasen fellow a shot. Making the reasonable assumption that I was going to like him, I spent my Christmas pennies on a three-book omnibus, containing Tourist Season and two others that I haven't read yet. It was a promising premise - grisly murders in sunny South Florida, failed journalist taking on a band of inept but bloodthirsty terrorists, pointed satire about politics, big business and the media... that's a lot to live up to, and in the event, I was pretty disappointed.
It's hard to say exactly why this book didn't work for me; in fact, it's hard to find anything to say about the book at all. The main character was so bland that, a day after finishing it, I can't even remember his name; the story had some interesting and unexpected deaths but was otherwise really ordinary. Some of the more unpleasant characters were more entertaining, particularly the rival journalists Ricky Bloodworth and Skip Wiley, but even they were drawn with an overly detached and cynical eye; they were definitely just ciphers and caricatures rather than real people. I didn't really care what happened to any of them.
Some of the writing was funny, but it wasn't that funny, sufficient to generate some smiles but few actual laughs - which is pretty much what you'd expect from any book that wasn't entirely miserable. I can sort of see where the Brookmyre comparisons have come from, as it's a slightly political crime thriller with some eccentric characters, but frankly Brookmyre wipes the floor with him. I'd be more inclined to compare this to an average Agatha Christie with more bile but less heart - not irredeemably awful, but nothing special either.