If you've ever read a travelogue by Bill Bryson then you'll know what I mean when I say it's possible to be hilarious and entirely serious at the same time. You'll also understand what I mean when I suggest that Carl Hiaasen is to fiction and mystery novels as Bill Bryson is to travel literature.
"Strip Tease" is a somewhat kinky, entirely off-the-wall, but thoroughly entertaining tale of murder, blackmail and political intrigue that revolves around Erin Grant, a stripper who toils nightly to raise the money for the legal tab she's running up in a custody battle for her daughter, and David Dilbeck, a thoroughly corrupt and entirely imbecilic US congressman whose thought processes rarely stray beyond hormones and never get above the level of what's between his legs (or whose legs he's between).
When Dilbeck makes the ill-advised election year decision to become involved in a drunken brawl in the Eager Beaver strip joint where Erin Grant works, the opportunities for blackmail become obvious and the workload for sleazy political fixers such as Malcolm Moldowsky becomes more than even his expertise can handle.
Hiaasen runs up a string of outlandish coincidences and creates a series of brilliant portrayed, absolutely bizarre and often likeable characters. The entire novel somehow manages to hang on the knife edge of a sharp ridge threatening to tip over into the realm of slapstick vaudevillian silliness. But somehow, he holds back and manages to generate real laughter over a real story that, believe it or not, at times can also be quite heartwarming! His political commentary and obvious criticism is also entirely intentional and, in this reader's opinion, entirely justified.
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