A native of perhaps one of the more... eccentric states in the Union, Carl Hiaasen has built his career writing both on the fictional and real-life exploits of the citizens of Florida. Known for a strong sense of black and satirical humor, many of his novels involve situations that he insists isn't that much of a stretch for his fellow Floridians: from a crook being beaten with a frozen lizard to a particularly ornery and sexually deviant dolphin to a female lead that continually has two songs clashing in her head, his novels are filled with all manner of colorful individuals. Notwithstanding the more colorful of their type and behavior, Hiaasen's books usually contain recognizable yet unstereotyped characters that are often criminal, eccentric, mentally ill or challenged, etc., yet still make endearing protagonists, whereas his villains are the sort of individuals for whom his imaginative fates can be seen as richly deserved.
Fiction written with Bill Montalbano:
- Powder Burn
- Trap Line
- Death in China
- Tourist Season
- Double Whammy
- Skin Tight
- Native Tongue
- Strip Tease
- Stormy Weather
- Lucky You
- Sick Puppy
- Basket Case
- Skinny Dip
- Nature Girl
- Star Island
- Bad Monkey
- Razor Girl
- Squeeze Me
Young Adult novels
- Skink: No Surrender
- Kick Ass - Selected columns
- Paradise Screwed - Selected columns
- Team Rodent
- The Downhill Lie
Works by Carl Hiaasen with their own pages include:
Other works by Carl Hiaasen contain examples of:
- Always Save the Girl: Hiaasen's heroes have a tendency for this, and Rudy Graveline (the villain of the third book) does this as well (although it turns out to be an Unwanted Rescue).
- Amusing Injuries: Expect at least one villain per book to suffer them. Highlights include a man having his teeth knocked out with a tennis racket during a botched kidnapping attempt (Tourist Season), Chemo's hand being bitten off by a barracuda and replaced with a weedwhacker (Skin Tight), The Dragon being bitten on the penis by a monkey (Bad Monkey), a character shoving a man's hand into a trap full of crabs, causing him to have his fingers cut off... which the emergency room team then accidentally reattach on the wrong digits due to a blackout (Nature Girl), accidentally lighting a KKK Grand Wizard on fire with the torch that was meant to light up the cross (Stormy Weather), a Corrupt Politician having the word Shame carved into his butt (Sick Puppy), and being bitten by a dog whose head The Dragon can't detach even when it's dead (Double Whammy).
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: In Hiaasen's Darker and Edgier first book, Trap Line, after the local Amoral Attorney is murdered, the prisoners at the local jail all break out into cheers when they hear the news (the guy was in bed with the drug cartel and so incompetent that half of them were in jail because of his shoddy efforts defending them).
- Anonymous Ringer: In Squeeze Me, as noted by Hiaasen in interviews, the President in the novel shares many (unflattering) traits with Donald Trump but isn't explicitly identified as him and has a different Secret Service codename.
- Anything That Moves: In Native Tongue, a local Glades theme park (run by a scumbag) bought an oversexed male dolphin as an ill-thought-out visitor attraction, and he attempts pelagic-style loving with pretty much any warm body that enters his tank; these wet and warm bodies include a local TV reporter doing a live segment and the park's roided-out Head of Security (who proved endlessly irresistible...).
- Beware the Silly Ones: Hiaasen's protagonists may seem overly quirky and at times naive, but they will end up owning their enemies by the end of the book. The mob hitman from Native Tongue is noted as being fat, flatulent, fairly casual about his work, and overly talkative, but does pull off the hit he was sent to Florida for.
- Black Comedy: The fate of Mr. Gash in Sick Puppy, a Psycho for Hire who relaxes by listening to recordings of emergency calls. He ends up pinned under a bulldozer, with a gunshot wound to the mouth. Fortunately, he manages to get ahold of Jim Tile's cell phone and call 911. Unfortunately...Dispatcher: Sir, do you speak English?
Caller: Eh izzh Engizh! Mah ung gaw zzha off! Whif ah gung!
Dispatcher: Hang on, sir, I'm transferring you to someone who can take the information.
Caller: Ngooohh! Hep! Peezh!
Dispatcher Two: Diga. ¿Dónde estás?
Dispatcher Two: ¿Tienes una emergencia?
Caller: Oh fugghh. I gaw die.
- The villain of Bad Monkey amputated his own arm to fake his death and pretend the rest of him was eaten by sharks. When he dies, most of his body is eaten by fishes, and the only part recovered is his remaining arm.
- The two main villains of Sick Puppy are killed by the ancient rhino they'd been hunting after it's jolted into motion by a playful dog biting its butt.
- One of the villains in Lucky You dies of thirst after being marooned and failing to use a pair of Hooters shorts to flag down a plane.
- One of the townspeople in Lucky You drilled holes through his own feet in the middle of a drinking binge. Upon recovering, he claimed them to be magically appearing stigmata referencing Jesus' crucifixion and spends a while going around trying to get someone to drill holes through his hands as well to further sell it.
- Black Comedy Rape: The Amazing Kingdom of Thrills, a theme park in Native Tongue, buys a dolphin on the cheap to compete with Disneyland's swimming-with-dolphins attraction, but it turns out to be mentally unstable and sexually deviant. One of the bad guys meets his fate by falling into the pool and drowning as the dolphin assaults him.
- Blackmail Backfire: Double-subverted in Native Tongue, where the two burglars who try to blackmail a scumbag in the Witness Protection Program are naturally targeted for death by his goons. They survive, though, and do end up selling the guy's location to the mobsters he'd ratted out as payback.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Applies to both various heroes (such as Jim Tile for Skink) and occasional villains (like Erb Crandall, the bagman and bodyguard of the drunken, sex-crazed congressman with zero impulse control in Strip Tease).
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Sometimes played for Black Comedy, sometimes not.
- In Strip Tease, the sleazy ex-husband of the main character falls into a drug-induced sleep in a vat of sugarcane — which is then fed through a processing plant.
- In Native Tongue, a hitman falls into a tank at a "Sea World"-like attraction, and simultaneously drowns and is humped to death by the oversexed dolphin that lives in the tank.
- The deluded "journalist" in Skin Tight gets one that involves a liposuction cannula and a very clumsy plastic surgeon.
- The airboat accident in Basket Case.
- Doesn't Like Guns: In Stormy Weather, Ira Jackson, a mafia thug, doesn't carry guns, partly because it's a condition of his parole, but mostly he feels anyone who carries a gun gets shot with one sooner or later. Besides, he prefers the more personal touch of crucifying his victims.
- Dumb Muscle: Pedro Luz in "Native Tongue" is both very muscular (being a steroid addict) and very dumb.
- Embarrassing Nickname:
- In Double Whammy, Hot-Blooded R.J. Decker's ex-wife calls him "Rage."
- In Flush, Payne Underwood was called "Pain-in-the-neck" Underwood as a kid.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: In Stormy Weather, mobster Ira Jackson goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the real estate agent who sold his mother a defective home and the roofing inspector who didn't do his job properly after a hurricane destroys the house and kills Jackson's mother.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In Tourist Season, the main bad guy tells Brian Keyes they're going to "violate the most sacred virgin in all Miami", but when Brian immediately assumes rape, the bad guy is disgusted Brian would think such a thing of him.
- Everyone Has Standards: Willie Vasquez-Washington from Sick Puppy is a somewhat Corrupt Politician, always holding out for deals that benefit his associates and family in addition to his community, but when he gets dragged along on the hunting trip, he only brings a camera to take pictures and feels a slight sense of discomfort at the hunt, which only increases upon finding out that his companions are mainly just interested in the rhino horn for sex powder.while Willie Vasquez-Washington was not, in any sense of the term, a nature freak, he had no particular desire to watch some poor animal get shot by the likes of Clapley.
- Evil Poacher: Palmer Stoat in Sick Puppy and various other antagonists hunt animals (typically feeble and immobile ones) on a local game farm. Interestingly, the proprietor is portrayed as more of a Punch-Clock Villain who sometimes wonders if he should have taken up guiding photo safaris instead.
- Feet of Clay: In Chomp, Derek Badger, the host of a survivalist reality TV show called Expedition: Survival!, is actually a spoiled diva with no real wilderness skills or experience. Tuna, a teenage friend of the book's protagonist, Wahoo Cray, is a huge fan of the show and is deeply disappointed after actually meeting Derek.
- Fun with Acronyms: The Christian Outdoor Network (CON), an outdoors-themed religious broadcasting network tied to a televangelist's shady real estate development next to the Everglades.
- Fun with Flushing: In Flush, Noah and his sister flush dyes down a ship's toilets in an attempt to expose them for dumping sewage into the water.
- Gold Digger: Erin's mother in Strip Tease is on the fifth of a series of increasingly rich husbands. Erin considers it not much more dignified than her own occupation at the Eager Beaver....it was the same game of tease, the same basic equation. Use what you've got to get what you want.
- Gonk: Skin Tight contains the ex-con turned bodyguard Chemo, who has a deformed face due to an electrolysis procedure that went horribly wrong. Then he took a medication that promised to fix it but instead made it look like cereal was glued to his face. He went to prison for killing the incompetent electrolysis doctor.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Happens pretty regularly (bordering on Once an Episode in some of the early books), but partially deconstructed in Skinny Dip. Chaz Perrone is good in bed—even after his incompetent attempt to murder her, Joey still admits this—but she's well aware that he only cared about her enjoyment as a way of feeding his own ego.
- Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: In Tourist Season, the body of one of the victims of "El Fuego" is discovered wearing a flower-print shirt, baggy Bermuda shorts, and black wraparound sunglasses and drenched in coconut-scented suntan lotion, none of which he usually wore in life.
- He Knows Too Much: In Strip Tease, this drives much of the main plot as characters discover a Congressman who beat up another patron at a nudie bar. They're hoping for some blackmail, but the Congressman's people have other ideas. A purer example is mostly in the background — three migrant workers are hired to murder one character, sent back to Jamaica afterward, and it's implied that a fatal accident will be arranged for them there.
- Hidden Depths: In Flush, Jasper is the son of the main antagonist, and serves as the protagonist's Jerkass rival, along with his crony Bull. Bull is described as very big, but not too smart (and he is beaten by the protagonist's sister and grandpa). However, later in the book, Jasper and Bull sneak some beers and cigars, which Jasper sets his dad's boat casino on fire while trying to smoke. Bull drags him out of the burning wreckage, despite both inhaling smoke, and Jasper even tries to shift blame onto him for it. Amazingly, he still hangs out with Jasper and leaves him when confronted by the protagonist and his family in the end.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: In Strip Tease, Erin Grant becomes a stripper, but only because she has to do something lucrative to pay off her legal fees from trying to get custody of her daughter from her sleazeball ex-husband. She never actually has much of a romance with anybody, let alone being saved by The Power of Love, and she gets the happiest ending of anyone in the book.
- I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: In Strip Tease, this is Orly's response when Erin (on behalf of the other dancers) requests that the air conditioning be turned up. Orly is pretending this is to prevent her from getting in trouble, but is really hoping to just ignore the request until the issue is forgotten. When Erin then writes down "72 or no dancing", he adds "I'll pretend I didn't see that."
- I Never Said It Was Poison: In Native Tongue, when Bud and Danny try to sell out Francis Kingsbury to The Mafia, they begin their call by saying they have a tip on the man who sold out the Zuboni's. When the mobster on the other end denies knowing anything about the Zuboni brothers (presumably in case they are wearing a wire and/or as a bargaining tactic), Bud points out that he hadn't said they were brothers yet.
- Intimate Telecommunications: The Disposable Love Interest in Native Tongue is an aspiring poetess employed by a $4 per minute "dial-a fantasy" service: 976-COME. At one point, her ex-boyfriend calls her on a bad guy's line and then leaves the phone off the hook to rack up a huge bill for the guy.
- Ironic Echo: In Tourist Season, Skip Wiley has written a column wishing Florida would get hit by a hurricane. In Stormy Weather, when a hurricane hits, Skink is eager and ready to see it.
- Basket Case has one with a much quicker turnaround: "The lake was dark, they must've hit something..."
- Last-Name Basis: In Strip Tease, Mordecai is only referred to by that name, Mordecai, throughout the novel (even Joyce refers to him as her "cousin Mordecai"). Since Mordecai is a rare, but not unknown, first name in the US, the reader will probably assume that is the character's first name. It is only in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue that his full name (Jonathan Peter Mordecai) is given. (There's no plot reason for any first/last name confusion, it just comes as a mild surprise to any reader who happens to notice.)
- Lovable Rogue: Bud and Danny begin Native Tongue a just a pair of incompetent, unlucky white trash burglars Only in It for the Money and the resident Butt-Monkey's, but ultimately prove to be dependable allies (to a point), with Danny getting caught up in the environmentalism of their employer and Bud wanting to start over if they make enough money.
- Mistaken for Own Murderer: Bad Monkey features the main character investigating the mysterious disappearance of a Medicare fraudster, believing that his wife and her mysterious new boyfriend killed him for the insurance money. Then, it turns out that the new boyfriend is her husband in an assumed identity and they faked his death in order to collect the insurance money and escape a police investigation.
- Morality Pet: Hospice patient Maureen, for Earl O'Toole in Skinny Dip. Initially she's just a (not-entirely-voluntary) source for his fentanyl fix, but...Tool's mother had passed away barely a month after the doctors had told her she was sick. It was in the middle of a tomato harvest, and he didn't get back to Jacksonville in time to say good-bye. He heard himself telling the whole story to Maureen, who said, "Don't feel bad. I'm sure she knew how much you loved her."
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: In Tourist Season, several characters are eaten by a North American crocodile named Pavlov, who has escaped into the wild.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Basket Case is all about the suspicious death of a punk-inspired, revolutionary musician and the rise of his angry, sexpot wannabe musician girlfriend.
- Reynaldo Flemm, arrogant and clueless "investigative journalist," bears a passing resemblance to one Geraldo Rivera.
- Non-Idle Rich: The heroes of both Stormy Weather and Sick Puppy - Augustine and Twilly, respectively - are both rich by fate (Augustine received money from an insurance settlement after he survived a plane crash; Twilly inherited his from a rich relative who died). Augustine takes care of his uncle's exotic pets, even searching for them during the hurricane in the novel, while also helping a woman find her missing husband and helping Skink find out who beat up Jim Tile's girlfriend. Twilly, in turn, devotes himself to stopping the building or a bridge to Shearwater Island that would mean environmental destruction (though he is a bit fanciful in his methods).
- Early on in Sick Puppy, Twilly dumps five tons of raw garbage into someone's convertible because that person was littering. This gets a Call-Back in Scat, where he features as one of the minor characters.
- Joey Perrone in Skinny Dip also inherited a lot of money from her parents (and later her first husband), but donated herself to charitable causes at time and lived (relatively) modestly. Her brother also counts, spending almost none of their money and focusing on farming sheep in New Zealand.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: In Lucky You, Bode and Chub's incoherent white-supremacist views (and their blinding stupidity on other topics) are pathetic enough to almost be funny, at least for the first few chapters. Then they give JoLayne a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for the offense of being a black woman in possession of a winning lottery ticket. And threaten her turtles for good measure.
- Not Worth Killing: In Sick Puppy Skink and Twilly agree that while the corrupt Governor would make a fitting Asshole Victim, there are so many equally corrupt politicians waiting to take his place that killing him would be a meaningless gesture.
- One Steve Limit: In-universe in Strip Tease, where two strippers want to use the name stage name of "Monique". They settle on the older one keeping the name while the younger one calls herself "Monique Jr."
- Only in Florida: Hiaasen's solo novels and young adult novels run on this trope.
- Recurring Character: Former governor Clint Tyree (though he prefers to be called "Skink" or "Captain") appears in six of Hiaasen's novels, state trooper Jim Tile appears in five, detective sergeant Al Garcia appears in four (though none since Strip Tease), and Twilly Spree appears in two, plus one of the young adult novels. Several of the supporting cast of "Bad Monkey" reappear in "Razor Girl". Some characters "recur" by never appearing, but by being mentioned by others in passing.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The terrorists in Tourist Season (a radical columnist, his Consummate Liar girlfriend, a seminole casino owner, a Malcolm Xerox ex-NFL player and a bumbling anti-Castro bombmaker) as well as various groups of heroes throughout the series.
- Returning the Wedding Ring: In Lucky You, a major character had been engaged six times, broke the engagement six times, and returned the ring five times. The time she kept the ring was because the breakup was over the man developing a disturbing fascination with body piercings, and she was afraid of what he'd do with it if it was returned.
- The Rock Star: The murdered Jimmy Stoma and his bandmates from "Basket Case" who were no stranger to Loony Fan's, drugs, and sexual escapades, although the surviving members have slowed down with age.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Almost every main character, as well as occasional secondary or tertiary ones like Ed Spurling from "Double Whammy" when he refuses to cheat during the bass tournament.
- Serious Business: Double Whammy has been described as a tale of sex and murder set in the high-stakes world of... large-mouth bass fishing. Lampshaded by Garcia:"You're telling me," Garcia said, "that grown men will sit down for hours in front of a television set and watch other men go fishing.""Millions," Decker said. "Every weekend.""I don't ever want to hear you talk about crazy Cubans," Garcia said, "never again."
- Twilly, who's the Anti-Hero of Sick Puppy, initially goes after lobbyist Palmer Stoat, not because of his corrupt activities, but because he's a shameless litterbug.
- Soap Punishment: In Lucky You, there's a white supremacist whose nice liberal parents once washed his mouth out for saying the N-word. Now he can be as racist as he pleases, but he can't bring himself to utter the N-word, much to the amusement of the other white supremacists.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: invoked by the cover art of Hiaasen's non-fiction book, Assume The Worst.
- Stalker with a Crush: Chub from Lucky You is a notable one, towards a waitress who reminds him of Kim Bassinger.
- Take That!: Most of Hiaasen's novels go after those who went after the Florida Everglades, but his has a few specific targets as well:
- Skin Tight features an obnoxious TV tabloid journalist modeled on Geraldo Rivera.
- Double Whammy and Lucky You feature dishonest evangelists who fake miracles and use their audience's donations to run their business empires. A swipe at 1980's era "televangelists." The scammers in Lucky You are portrayed slightly more sympathetically, partly because they aren't exactly raking in the big bucks with their schemes.note
- Native Tongue has a theme park similar to Walt Disney World being run by an ex-mobster.
- The villain of Basket Case is a takeoff on Courtney Love.
- Razor Girl is a swipe at "reality" TV shows and the dangers of rabid fanbases taking said shows too seriously.
- Tastes Like Chicken: Skink, a recurring character, is fond of roadkill. Whenever he offers it to another character, they will invariably reply it tastes like chicken.
- Technology Marches On: Considering most of the books are set around the same time they were first published, and Hiaasen's been writing since The '80s, this was unavoidable, but one line from Basket Case stands out.In only three weeks, a digital re-mix [sic] of the single drew sixty-two thousand downloads off the band's interactive Web site [sic].
- This Is a Work of Fiction: Hiaasen likes to have fun with this trope.
- Lucky You has:Pearl Key is an imaginary place, although the indiscriminate dining habits of the blue crab and the common black vulture are accurately portrayed. However, there is no approved dental use for WD-40, a trademarked product.
- Sick Puppy has:This is a work of fiction. All names and characters are either invented or used fictitiously. To the best of the author's knowledge, there is no such licensed product as a Double-Jointed Vampire Barbie, nor is there a cinematic portrayal thereof.
However, while most events described in this book are imaginary, the dining habits of the common bovine dung beetle are authentically represented.
- From Basket Case:...However, the frozen-lizard episode is based loosely on the tragic true-life demise of a voracious Savannah monitor named Claw, who now sleeps with the Dove bars.
- Lucky You has:
- This Is Going to Be Huge: Nature Girl has two characters who went through this. One is a woman who was mistress to a man who killed his wife and ended up in a high-profile murder trial, which led to a sensationalized ghost-written book on her story for which she gained half a million dollars and a stockbroker boyfriend who recommended investing it in Enron; two years later, she had lost it all and was working at a bottom-feeding telemarketing company. The other is the mother of another character, whose many disappointments in life include her father cashing in his pension to invest it all in the Delorean Motor Company, leaving nothing to pass to his daughter.
- Toad Licking: Recurring character, eccentric governor-turned-hermit Clinton "Skink" Tyree, frequently licks toads.
- Twofer Token Minority: Exploited by Representative Willie Vasquez-Washington (sometimes called "The Rainbow Brother" behind his back) who represents a minority district and at various times has claimed Afro-American, Hispanic, Haitian, Chinese and Miccousukee Indian heritage.
- Undignified Death: In Native Tongue, a hitman falls into a tank at a "Sea World"-like attraction, and simultaneously drowns and is humped to death by the oversexed dolphin that lives in the tank.
- Villain with Good Publicity: A fair amount of the Corrupt Politician's, Corrupt Corporate Executive's and the like, as well as pop star Cleo Rio, and the Jerk Jock from the backstory fo Double Whammy who tried to rob Decker and got away with claiming unprovoked assault when Decker caught, stopped and hit him.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The main villain of Tourist Season simply wants to keep Florida from being overpopulated and its environment destroyed. Unfortunately, he's also willing to kill a lot of people to get that point across.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: A staple of Hiaasen's novels, starting with Skin Tight. Even when he switched to a first-person viewpoint in Basket Case, he had to include one.
- Write What You Know: Several of Hiaasen's main characters either once worked on a newspaper or are currently writing for one.
- You Killed My Father:
- Thomas Curl, The Dragon in Double Whammy has his brother killed by Decker and Skink in the firs half of the novel, and is partially motivated by a desire for revenge in their later confrontations.
- Ira Jackson, a tertiary character in Stormy Weather is out to kill the corrupt contractors who gave his mother an unsafe mobile home shortly before a big hurricane (which killed her).
- Jimmy's sister Janet is eager to bring her brothers killer to justice in "Basket Case".