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Tourist Season (1986)

by Carl Hiaasen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,282416,717 (3.78)45
Fiction. Mystery. Thriller. HTML:Take a trip to exotic South Florida with this dark, funny book that established Carl Hiaasen as one of the top mystery writers in the game.
The first sign of trouble is a Shriner's fez washed up on a Miami beach. The next is a suitcase containing the almost-legless body of the local chamber of commerce president found floating in a canal...
The locals are desperate to keep the murders under wraps and the tourist money flowing. But it will take a reporter-turned–private eye to make sense of a caper that mixes football players, politicians, and one very hungry crocodile in this classic mystery that GQ called “one of the top ten destination reads of all time.”.
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» See also 45 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
¡Viva Las Noches de Diciembre, Viva!

Tourist Season, published in 1986 is a dystopian novel set more than 37 years in the future and is perfectly prescient of present day Florida.

This is also 10 years BEFORE Rupert Murdock created the far-right-wing, fascist propaganda network Fox. Fox "news" programs - affectionately and more properly known as Faux News - are the most watched in the US and functions as sort of a cross between Pravda and the National Enquirer although the former may also owned and operated by Murdock since its pro-Kremlin stances have long been established. Granted, something like 150 million Americans prefer alternative facts; Insurrectionists and the "Covid is a hoax" crowd (however, if the global Coronavirus pandemic is not a hoax, those people who opt to drink bleach and take horse dewormer instead). And as I write this, three former Fox executives recently expressed regret for helping Rupert Murdoch build his US broadcasting business, describing Fox News as a "disinformation machine." Ummm, okay, but you're about 30 years too late, that bus has sailed.

Cable networks like Fox are licensed as entertainment so they are not bound to report any actual facts on programs they claim to be news, hence, Faux News. In Tourist Season, our anti-hero or protagonist Skip Wiley, became overburdened by too many years in the news industry and found himself to be, let's say, somewhat jaded. Wiley determined that only way to turn the tide of destruction was to proactive and proceed in a less than subtle fashion.

******************

"Brian, what is Florida anyway? An immense sunny toilet where millions of tourists flush their money and save the moment on Kodak film. The recipe for redemption is simple: scare away the tourists and pretty soon you scare off the developers. No more developers, no more bankers. No more bankers, no more lawyers. No more lawyers, no more dope smugglers. The whole motherfucking economy implodes! Now, tell me I'm crazy."

"Skip, there's got to be another way,"

"No!" Wiley shot to his feet, uprooting the beach umbrella with his head. "There... is... no... other... way! Think about it, you mullusk-brained moron! What gets headlines? Murder, mayhem, and madness - the cardinal M's of the newsroom. That's what terrifies the travel agents of the world. That's what rates congressional hearings and crime commissions. And that's what frightens off bozo Shriner conventions. It's a damn shame, I grant you that. It's a shame I simply couldn't stand up at the next county commission meeting and ask our noble public servants to please stop destroying the planet. It's a shame that the people who poisoned this paradise won't just apologize and pack their U-Hauls and head back North to the smog and the blizzards. But it's a proven fact they won't leave until somebody lights a fire under ‘em. That's what Las Noches de Diciembre is all about. ‘Cops Seek Grisly Suitcase Killer' ... ‘Elderly Woman Abducted, Fed to Vicious Reptile' ... ‘Golf Course Bomb Claims Three on Tricky Twelfth Hole‘ ... ‘Crazed Terrorists Stalk Florida Tourists.'" Wiley was practically chanting the headlines, as if he were watching them roll off the presses at the New York Post.

******************

[On Las Noches de Diciembre.]

"Mr. Keyes," a vice-mayor said, "what is it they want?"

"They want us to leave," Keyes said.

"All of us," Garcia added, "from Palm Beach to Key West."

"I don't understand," the vice-mayor said.

"They want Florida back," Keyes said, "the way it was."

"The way it was when?"

"When it wasn't fucked up with so many people," Garcia said.

The table erupted in snorts and sniggering, and the men in the blazers seemed to shake their heads gravely in syncopation. "Why doesn't this kind of shit ever happen to Disney World?" one of them said mournfully.

[Given that this is first fiction novel, I will give Carl a pass for not envisioning that the money and politics that runs the US would not install a Ron DeSantis as governor of Florida who would actually go after Disney World.]

******************

[I loved that our anti-hero used Victor Hugo as an alias; fits in perfectly with the American political situation.]

"Did he give a name at the airport?"

"Yes, he did," Garcia said.

Then all at once, like a flock of crows: "What?"

Garcia glanced over at the police chief. The chief shrugged. The Orange Bowl chairman waved a chubby hand, trying to get somebody's attention.

"The suspect did use a name at the airport," Garcia said, "but we believe it was an alias."

"What was it?"

"In fact, we're ninety-nine percent sure it was an alias," the detective said, fading from the microphone.

"What was it, Al? What?"

"Well," Garcia said, "the name the suspect gave was Hugo. Victor Hugo."

There was a lull in the questioning while the reporters explained to each other who Victor Hugo was.

******************

I hated the ending. It made sense, and it was probably symbolic of the whole story. Unbeknownst to all a small destruction which will lead to the ultimate destruction of all while the world remains blissfully ignorant. I get it, I just didn't like it. ( )
  Picathartes | Aug 30, 2023 |
Dark because its' oddly callous about non-main character deaths. ( )
  Castinet | Dec 11, 2022 |
loved it. ( )
  btbell_lt | Aug 1, 2022 |
Tourist Season is one of Carl Hiaasen's earlier mystery/comedy novels set in Miami. Published in the 1980s it is full of what now sound like anachronisms, pay phones, Datsun cars, typewriters and Jane Fonda exercise videos. Weird, funny an hard to put down like all of his books this one is about a former Miami Sun reporter who has become a private investigator because his newspaper career ended in some kind of disgrace. A former colleague of the investigator decided to rid Florida of tourists and retirees and return it to nature and the native peoples it was stolen from. The former colleague gathered a group to help him terrorize the whole population of Florida. How will it go and will Brain the reporter turned investigator stop it? ( )
  MMc009 | Jan 30, 2022 |
I have read "Tourist Season" so many times I have lost count. The Shriners, the shore-front real estate, the beauty queen, the parade, football star, the Indian, and a former governor create an exploding mystery for reporter Brian Keyes. I love the Shriners in this story. They steal the show for me. It will only be a matter of time before I reread this book.

In a serious vein, the author gives facts about FL ecology, wildlife, and how the growth in FL is hurting it. All of his books do this. Each one spotlights a different animal or bird. Carl Hiassen also writes books for the younger crowd. They are excellent, and nobody dies. ( )
  nab6215 | Jan 18, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carl Hiaasenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Saarinen, OsmoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On the morning of December 1, a man named Theodore Bellamy went swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off South Florida.
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Fiction. Mystery. Thriller. HTML:Take a trip to exotic South Florida with this dark, funny book that established Carl Hiaasen as one of the top mystery writers in the game.
The first sign of trouble is a Shriner's fez washed up on a Miami beach. The next is a suitcase containing the almost-legless body of the local chamber of commerce president found floating in a canal...
The locals are desperate to keep the murders under wraps and the tourist money flowing. But it will take a reporter-turned–private eye to make sense of a caper that mixes football players, politicians, and one very hungry crocodile in this classic mystery that GQ called “one of the top ten destination reads of all time.”.

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Las Noches de Diciembre (The Nights of December) (affectionately known as Los Nachos), are a small terrorist cell led by renegade newspaper columnist Skip Wiley, a brilliant but crazed Uncle Duke-like character. Wiley believes that the only way to save Florida's Everglades from developers is to dissuade tourists from visiting and settling in Florida. Their preferred weapon of dissuasion is random attacks on tourists, using a giant crocodile called Pavlov to murder them. Local government officials don't want much publicity about the group; musn't cut down on the needed tourist dollars. But deaths begin to occur; and Brian Keyes is hired to protect the Orange Bowl Queen. A multitude of crazy characters about.. there's a football "hero", a Seminole and a Cuban.
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Hachette Book Group

2 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0446343455, 0446695718

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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