I love Carl Hiaasen. I've read all of his books--some of them multiple times. What I love about his books is that his characters are so quirky and engaging, yet they're still believable. He also tends to carry certain characters over into subsequent novels, so you'll find beloved characters popping up in smaller roles. This book follows Andrew Yancy once a police detective, now demoted to restaurant inspector for assaulting his ex's new love with a vacuum hose in a most uncomfortable spot. Yancy is in possession of a severed human arm which is lacking a body. No one wants the arm, so it's taking up space in his freezer. The arm leads him on quite an adventure, through Miami and the Keys, down to the Bahamas where he meets a voodoo priestess and an ill-tempered monkey said to have starred with Johnny Depp. As Yancy follows the trail of the arm, the plot thickens, as it always does in Hiaasen novels, and things become ever more dangerous as he tries to find out what happened to the owner of the arm and win back his job as detective.
Help for the Haunted: A Novel
Sylvie is used to her parents getting calls late at night. As the daughter of two parents who help those dealing with hauntings, her parents often receive late calls to assist those in needs. But on their last night alive, this call in different. She's taken along and told that they're going to meet her estranged sister in a church. When they arrive, the church is dark and by the end of the night, both of her parents are dead.
This story chilled me, on so many levels. The supernatural level, of course. As it unfolds, you learn about Sylvie's parents and the cases they took on, many of which were unsettling, with a fine layer of wondering if Sylvie's parents were real or frauds. But there are many complexities within this story. You have Sylvie's relationship with her sister, Rose. Sylvie and Rose's relationship with their parents. The bullying and cruelty that Sylvie deals with from her classmates after they find out that Sylvie's parents help the haunted. The entire time, you're wondering who the haunted really are and that question haunted me as I was reading it. This was one that I stayed up way too late reading it. It's good. Really good.
The Husband's Secret
This is one of those books that I started reading it, then I put it down because there were so many characters introduced that I couldn't focus or get into it. Fortunately, I decided to give it another try and I'm pretty sure the issue was more how tired I was than the book itself because upon picking it up again, I was pretty quickly hooked.
While her husband is away on business, Cecilia discovers a letter from him that says: to be opened only in the event of my death" on the outside. Because Cecilia is a better person than myself, she doesn't immediately rip it open and instead mentions it to her husband over the phone. Although he's fairly flippant about it over the phone, he cuts his business trip short and arrives home three days early to discover that she still hasn't opened the letter--much to his seemingly apparently relief. In this novel, we also meet Tess whose husband and cousin just told her that they're in love with another, leaving her to escape to her mother's house with her young son, Liam, as well as Rachel, whose daughter Janie was murdered at the age of 17--and Rachel finds herself haunted by the question of who did it? And why? All three women are intertwined throughout the novel in ways both public and private--Cecilia's husband isn't the only one with a secret. While some of the plot twists were predictable, I still greatly enjoyed this story and the characters and definitely found myself drawn into their lives. It's hard to discuss too much without giving away major plot points, but while parts of it made me sad, I loved watching the characters grow throughout this novel.