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Double Whammy
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A Miami Herald reporter who struck a blow against corrupt entrepreneurs in Tourist Season, Hiaasen follows through with this acid satire, a real double whammy. Private detective R. J. Decker is hired to prove that TV host Dickie Lockhart cheats to win fortunes in Florida bass-fishing tournaments. The investigation makes Decker a prey to hired killers who have murdered other ``snoops,'' but the detective also finds a strong if weird ally in a hermit who calls himself Skink. Along with two honest cops, Skink goes with Decker to the lake where a big tournament is under way and the four make a tremendous splash, to the dismay of the assembly. Hardest hit is Reverend Weeb, Lockhart's sponsor on the Outdoor Christian Network, whose generous supporters don't know that he's addicted to prostitutes, profanity and land-grabbing. The cast of bizarre characters and the suspenseful events confirm Hiaasen's reputation for creating singular villains and heroes. While he's probably unpopular among some fellow citizens in his home state, he will certainly please readers who appreciate the Swiftian wit in his cautionary tales. (January 12)

The ``double whammy'' is a special lure used in the competitive bass fishing underlying the plot of this thriller by Miami journalist Hiaasen ( The Tourist Season ). Someone is cheating at bass fishing competitions, and people are getting killed. Enter R.J. Decker, former photojournalist and ex-con. Decker teams up with Skink, an unbelievable character who lives in a forest shack, eats road-killed animals, and reads Dostoyevsky (and turns out to be the ex-governor of Florida). Decker's an unlikely hero, always a step behind. Other characters include the usual corrupt TV evangelists, rednecks, smart black policemen, and betrayingly beautiful women. The action is swift, and there are some very funny scenes. Louise A. Merriam, L.E. Phillips Memorial P.L., Eau Claire, Wis.

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