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Creator / Carl Hiaasen

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"With or without me, Florida will always be wonderfully, unrelentingly weird"
Headline of Hiaasen's farewell column for the Miami Herald, March 15, 2021

A native of perhaps one of the more... eccentric states in the Union, Carl Hiaasen (born March 12, 1950) 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.

Official website.


Fiction written with Bill Montalbano:

  • Powder Burn
  • Trap Line
  • Death in China


  • Tourist Season (1986)
  • Double Whammy (1987)
  • Skin Tight (1989)
  • Native Tongue (1991)
  • Strip Tease (1993)
  • Stormy Weather (1995)
  • Lucky You (1997)
  • Sick Puppy (2000)
  • Basket Case (2002)
  • Skinny Dip (2004)
  • Nature Girl (2006)
  • Star Island (2010)
  • Bad Monkey (2013)
  • Razor Girl (2016)
  • Squeeze Me (2020)

Young Adult novels

  • Hoot (2002)
  • Flush (2005)
  • Scat (2009)
  • Chomp (2012)
  • Skink: No Surrender (2014)
  • Squirm (2016)
  • Wreck (2023)


  • Kick Ass - Selected columns
  • Paradise Screwed - Selected columns
  • Dance of the Reptiles - Selected columns
  • Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World
  • The Downhill Lie

Works by Carl Hiaasen with their own pages include:

Other works by Carl Hiaasen contain examples of:

  • 555: Mick Stranahan's brother-in-law is an Ambulance Chaser personal-injury attorney (more like lawsuit broker, really) whose firm's phone number is 555-TORT.
  • Actionized Adaptation: In-Universe in Basket Case. On his birthday, Jack's girlfriend Emma insists on dragging him to a film adaptation of Petticoat Junction, in which "all three sisters are undercover for the Mossad. For me, the plot never quite came together."
  • Actor/Role Confusion: Crossed with Reality Show in Chomp and Razor Girl. Both novels feature a Loony Fan who is severely disillusioned to learn just how much of their favorite "reality" series is scripted, rehearsed, and often outright faked.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy:
    • Averted in Double Whammy: The white population of Harney County hates Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Tile for being black, but when one racist high schooler actually tried to fight him while being arrested, he ended up permanently crippled.
      Even in a place where there was no shortage of booze or stupidity, no one had since gotten drunk enough or dumb enough to take a poke at the black trooper.
  • 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).
  • AM/FM Characterization: Hiaasen, a die-hard fan of hard rock from the 60s and 70s, always uses musical taste to divide his good characters from his bad ones. Especially in Basket Case and Star Island, the villainous characters view music as a vehicle for getting rich and famous, and couldn't care less about the quality of what they are producing.
  • Amusing Injuries: Expect at least one villain per book to suffer comedic injuries. Highlights include:
    • Tourist Season: A man having his teeth knocked out with a tennis racket during a botched attempt at surveilling a kidnapping target;
    • Double Whammy: The Dragon being bitten on the arm by a dog, whose head he can't detach even after it's dead;
    • Skin Tight: Chemo's hand being bitten off by a barracuda and replaced with a Weed Whacker;
    • Native Tongue: a steroid-inflamed bodybuilder deciding to chew off his own foot after it is trapped under a car;
    • Stormy Weather: a KKK Grand Wizard accidentally being set on fire with the torch that was meant to ignite the cross;
    • Sick Puppy: a Corrupt Politician having the word Shame carved into his butt with a buzzard beak;
    • Nature Girl: 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;
    • Bad Monkey: The Dragon being bitten on the penis by a monkey;
    • Razor Girl: Benny Krill, a "hopelessly incompetent" burglar earns the nickname "Blister" after backing into a serving bowl of hot soup while trying to burglarize the kitchen of a homeless shelter, causing "parboiled, abscessed buttocks";
    • Chomp: The Dragon being tackled and bitten on the neck by a bat bite victim who thought he was turning into a vampire;
    • Skink No Surrender: Highlights of the Humiliation Conga suffered by the antagonist include stabbing himself through the palm while wrestling with a catfish, going delirious from the resulting infection and fever, and getting gored in the butt and chased up a tree by a wild pig.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba:
    • Strip Tease: "I'm a deacon in the church!" / "Yeah, and I'm the Singing Nun."
    • Basket Case: "Maybe I hit 'em with a shot." / "Right, Jack, and maybe one day hamsters will sing opera."
    • Skinny Dip: "Maybe he's got a girlfriend." / "And maybe someday cows will play lacrosse."
    • Flush: "Right, Noah, and maybe someday hamsters will fly helicopters."
    • Chomp: "Maybe after today Derek learned his lesson." / "Sure, and maybe the racoons will start their own lacrosse team."
  • 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).
  • Animal Assassin: In Native Tongue, one of the Big Bad's mooks is shot between the eyes by a monkey, playing with a gun dropped by one of the other mooks. One of the protagonists is creeped out by the notion that the monkey might actually have aimed and fired on purpose: "Stranger things had happened in Miami."
  • Anvil on Head: The cover art of Hiaasen's non-fiction book, Assume The Worst, features an acme anvil about to hit an unsuspecting graduate on the head to illustrate the hard lessons the book purports to impart.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • In Native Tongue, Hiaasen lampoons both Disney World and the media over Disney's efforts to save the now-extinct Dusky Seaside Sparrow:
      With much fanfare, Disney had unveiled a captive breeding program for the last two surviving specimens of the dusky. Unfortunately, the last two surviving specimens were both males, and even the wizards of Disney could not induce the scientific miracle of homosexual procreation. Eventually the dusky sparrow succumbed to extinction, but the Disney Organization won gobs of fawning publicity for its conservation efforts.
      • Hiaasen suggests that the whole effort was an elaborate publicity stunt, doomed to fail from the beginning since there were no female duskies left. In fact, Disney's program was an attempt to cross-breed the surviving duskies with females of other sparrow species, but failed because the hybrids produced were not themselves capable of reproducing or surviving in the wild.
    • In Basket Case, one of obituary writer Jack Tagger's subjects is a politician who happened to die at the same age and in the same manner as Nelson Rockefeller: "to wit, porking a woman who was not his legal spouse." Rockefeller died of a heart attack in the company of a female staffer; this naturally gave rise to speculation that they were having an affair but there is no concrete evidence that he had actually died while having sex.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: In Native Tongue, Skink insists on going to a veterinarian to treat his gunshot wounds, refusing to go to a regular hospital. His reason given is that he trusts the vet, who tried to save the life of a Florida panther Skink brought to his office after it was hit by a liquor truck.
  • Being Evil Sucks: the villains of Hiaasen's novels, in their ruthless, single-minded pursuit of money, sex and power, often end up getting it, and it's miserable. For instance, in Sick Puppy:
    • Palmer Stoat, big-time lobbyist and self-described as "one of the most powerful human beings in the State of Florida" has his life "reduced to a tabloid freak show", mostly through dealing with his own clients.
      Here he was, standing in the scorching sun like a eunuch servant, obediently holding a silk robe for a man – his own client! – who had filled both pockets with dolls. Not only dolls, but a miniature pearl-handled hairbrush. The bristles looked exquisitely fine, and the handle... my God, could it possibly be? Stoat squinted in amazement. Pearl! Palmer Stoat slowly looked up... what's happening to this country of ours? What's happening to me?
    • Likewise, Robert Clapley, the Barbie Doll-fetishist, has finally realized his lifelong dream of hooking up with two women that can be surgically modified into identical twins, only to have to cope with their infidelity and drug-fueled craziness;
    • Governor Dick Artemus is ill-equipped to deal with the actual daily grind of "jerkwater Florida politics" and misses being a car salesman in Jacksonville - "you know, I never had to deal with shit like this in Toyotaland."
  • Beleaguered Assistant: an often recurring trope in Hiaasen's novels:
    • Skin Tight: Christina Marks, the producer of the sensationalist talk show In Your Face, handles all of the "actual nuts and bolts journalism" of the program, and as often as not her job is to keep the show's "star", Reynaldo Flemm, who is "hopelessly bored by detail, research and the rigors of fact-checking", from ruining his own reputation (before she was hired, the show was losing huge amounts of money as a result of Flemm's impulsive idiocy);
    • Chomp: Raven Starke, the production assistant to TV survivalist Derek Badger; a very large part of her job is "dealing with Derek's enormous ego", and preventing him from harming, or being harmed by, any of the animals he is required to come in contact with (he narrowly avoided a prison sentence for cluelessly poaching an egg from a bird's nest, ignoring everyone's warning that it was a bald eagle's nest); at one point in the novel, she reflects that she is sometimes mystified by her continuing loyalty to Derek, who is bossy, demanding, and never appreciates her hard work.
  • Believing Your Own Lies: a trait shared by nearly all of Hiaasen's villain characters:
    • Tourist Season: Jesus Bernal, who wrote press releases for an anti-Castro terrorist group based in Miami, is hopelessly inept at any other job (his boss, a veteran of the Bay of Pigs, calls him "the worst bomber I ever saw") yet thinks of himself as "the most seasoned" terrorist member of Las Noches de Diciembre, and "a hero to all freedom fighters."
    • Skin Tight: Dr. Rudy Graveline finished dead last in his Harvard Medical School class (financed by the mafia), has never been trained in cosmetic surgery, and has spent years skirting the consequences of his grisly surgical mistakes (including at least one accidental death), yet continues to insist that he is an "excellent surgeon", and his Harvard degree entitles him to automatic respect.
  • Berserk Button: Most of Hiaasen's protagonists have noble intentions and very bad impulse control:
    • Double Whammy: When driving a "borrowed" motorboat through a manatee crossing zone, Skink scrupulously cuts his throttle and coasts; when a ski boat full of clueless college kids speeds across, he yells for them to slow down, and the driver flips him the finger. Result: the girls from the boat have to explain the incident to the Marine Patrol, since the driver and male passengers are all being treated for multiple bone fractures;
    • Flush: While out on a fishing charter, Paine Underwood saw a tourist couple whipping their dogs with a bungee cord; he didn't lay a hand on the tourists, but he rescued the dogs, and flattened the eight tires on their Winnebago with a marlin gaff;
    • Sick Puppy: the whole madcap chain of events is set in motion when Twilly sees Palmer Stoat littering with abandon on the Florida Turnpike;
  • 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. Additionally, 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.
  • Bigotry Exception: JoLayne Lucks, a former nurse now working as a veterinarian's assistant, is so good at her job that several of the county's most bigoted white people who bring their pets to her confess that she is the only black person they have ever liked or trusted.
  • 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?
    Caller: Aaaaaagghh!
    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 hands 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 feet 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.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: In Sick Puppy, Florida Governor Richard Artemus begins relaxing at an informal deal-making session at a hunting lodge:
    This is what it must have been like in the good old days, when the important business of government was conducted far from the stuffy confines of the Capitol, convivial settings that encouraged frank language and unabashed horse trading, free from the scrutiny of overzealous journalists and an uninformed public.
  • Bribe Backfire: In Native Tongue, Francis X. Kingsbury desperately tries to put off the mob hitman sent to kill him. He points to a grocery bag containing his amusement park's ticket receipts for the day, $340,000 in cash, "and it's all yours if you forget about the contract." The hitman points out that since the bag is sitting in plain view, "it's mine if I don't."
  • The Bus Came Back: Tommy Tigertail, from the eco-extremist group in Tourist Season, shows up older and wiser in Nature Girl, although he doesn't get a lot of page time.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Zigzagged in 'Tourist Season''. Two of the second victim's fellow Shriners offer The Hero their assistance, saying that one of them is a good pistol shot and the other has a pilot's license and martial arts training. The martial arts training proves useless against the towering Viceroy Wilson, but the marksmanship proves to be Viceroy's doom during the climax.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Skink is aware that his need to "impart a lesson" to whatever rude and inconsiderate people happen to cross his path is a "chronic weakness", especially if he is engaged in some more serious mission;
    • In Star Island, his mission to rescue Ann DeLusia from her kidnapper is derailed several times when he is sidetracked by the boorish denizens of South Beach;
    • In Skink - No Surrender, his teenaged companion, Richard, chews him out for disabling the engine of a litterbug's car, reminding him that they are supposed to be rescuing Richard's cousin from her stalker/kidnapper;
    • In Flush, Paine Underwood's obsession with shutting down the polluting casino boat Coral Queen leads to him being thrown in jail and losing his job; his motives are noble, but given that he has a wife and two children, he can't help but appear selfish and irresponsible, and his wife begins to seriously contemplate divorce;
  • Cigar Chomper: Palmer Stoat, the villain of Sick Puppy, fetishizes cigar smoking to an absurd degree, collecting boxes of supposedly authentic Cuban brands and displaying them in his den like trophies, favoring a local cigar bar as his preferred hangout, and pleading for his wife to smoke one while they have sex, prompting the following exchange:
    Palmer: Come on, Des, it's a very erotic look.
    Desirata: They cause cancer, you know? Tumors in the soft palate, you find that erotic?
  • 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).
  • Comeback Tomorrow: In Double Whammy:
    Decker guessed that it would take Gault ten or twelve seconds to come up with some witty reply. Actually it took a bit longer.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • Double Whammy: When he was Governor of Florida, Clinton "Skink" Tyree proposed an amendment to the state law which punished boaters who inadvertently killed manatees. Under the "Tyree Amendment", the offending boater would be required to immediately forfeit his boat, pay a $10,000 fine or spend 45 days in jail, and bury the dead manatee himself at a public ceremony.
    • Nature Girl: When Honey's boss Louis Piejack gropes her breast at work, she retaliates with a crab hammer to his groin. When her ex-husband hears about it, he hires two thugs to shove Piejack's hand into a trap filled with extra-large stone crabs; three of his fingers get pinched off, the other two get broken, and thanks to an electrical outage at the emergency room, the severed fingers are reattached to the wrong stumps.
    • Lampshaded in Bad Monkey, after Andrew Yancy is suspended from the Monroe County Sheriff's office for performing a "dry colonic" on his girlfriend's husband with a portable vacuum cleaner:
      Bonnie: Why couldn't you just punch him like a normal person?
      Andrew: You always said he had a bee up his ass, I was just trying to help.
  • The Coroner: In Skin Tight, the normally jaded detective Al Garcia is disturbed by the coroner cracking jokes at the scene of a criminal who fell into a Wood Chipperof Doom:
    The coroner told him to lighten up, said everybody needs a break in the monotony, no matter what line of work. "I get tired of gunshot wounds. It's like a damn assembly line down there. GSW head, GSW thorax, GSW neck. It gets old, Al."
  • Crapsaccharine World: A major recurring theme in Hiaasen's novels. South Florida (Miami in particular) has a whole tourism industry devoted to convincing the rest of the country that Florida is sunny, tropical, and sexy, but above all, as safe and predictable as any other middle-of-the-road American town (in the scathing words of renegade columnist Skip Wiley in Tourist Season, the Chamber of Commerce would have you believe this is "Newark, with palm trees."). Whenever death, natural disaster, or just plain wackiness spins out of control, as they inevitably do, the False Utopia's minders rush to portray it as some kind of aberration in the otherwise tranquil landscape - or worse, as a touch of local "color" that adds to the thrill for any visitors.
    • Tourist Season: Sparky Harper, the recently-murdered head of the Miami Chamber of Commerce, was responsible for composing a catchy tourism poster each year with an equally catchy slogan; the protagonist's personal favorite was "The Most Exciting City in America!", deliberately introduced after Miami's worst race riot.
    • Skin Tight: Mick Stranahan's sister, Kate, confesses that she knew about her husband's infidelity, but preferred not to give up her comfortable life in Coral Gables:
      Mick: Not at all.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Sometimes played for Black Comedy, sometimes not.
    • 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.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check:
    • Native Tongue: after building the "Amazing Kingdom of Thrills" theme park, mob snitch-turned real estate developer Francis X. Kingsbury (f.k.a. Frankie King) rakes in tens of millions of dollars each year and has every Chamber of Commerce in South Florida kissing his ass. But he's so insanely envious of Disney World's greater wealth and prestige that he can't resist an old associate's suggestion that he invent an endangered species for his park to "save", generating gobs of favorable publicity and scamming the U.S. government out of a $200,000 grant (which is a measly sum compared to his park's receipts). It becomes the first in a series of Disaster Dominoes for him.
    • Flush: thanks to his casino boat operation, "Dusty" Muleman is one of the richest men in Monroe County, but is still "such a pathetic cheapskate" that he insists on his crew dumping his boat's sewage tank directly into the water (which is egregiously illegal), instead of paying for the sewage to be hauled away. His Native American partners also catch him skimming from the boat's profits, since netting $10,000 per night from the gambling wasn't enough for him.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Pop stars Cleo Rio and Cherry Pye in Basket Case and Star Island; neither of them can sing (Cherry's record promoter puts her through three months of expensive coaching, but has to accept that she has "the weakest singing voice he'd ever heard from anyone not confined to a hospice"), but both become huge stars anyway, thanks to computer enhancement, backup singers and lip-syncing, not to mention the shameless flaunting of their looks.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: In Basket Case, one of obituary writer Jack Tagger's subjects is a "greedy sleazeball who deserves to be drop-kicked into his grave", a local mayor who went to jail for selling his vote on the zoning commission for private sessions with prostitutes. On one occasion, he allowed a Mafia-owned massage parlor to be opened next door to a preschool, in exchange for "a two-minute handjob." On the positive side, Taggert reports that his achievements as mayor included extending the city's bike path system by several miles.
  • Deep South: Sometimes fulfilled, sometimes subverted. In Double Whammy, after Clinton "Skink" Tyree resigns as governor, he relocates to the (fictional) Harney County, one of the "reddest" counties in the state; his best friend, Jim Tile, an African-American state trooper, is assigned to the same county, and the protagonist, R.J. Decker, cannot imagine a more miserable place in the state to be a black police officer.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Skin Tight: Shock TV host Reynaldo Flemm's producer and Beleaguered Assistant, Christina Marks, privately reflects that the phrase "brutally murdered" is one of her boss's "favorite on-camera redundancies."
    She'd once asked him if he'd ever heard of anyone being gently murdered, but he missed the point.
  • Did Not Think This Through: A common setup for the situations that Hiaasen's characters get themselves into:
    • Native Tongue: Francis X. Kingsbury's "Vole Project" seemed so simple. His accomplice delivers the "endangered" animals, the U.S. Government forks over $200,000 in grant money to help preserve them, and the animals become a big draw at the park, while needing only minimal attention. Yet Kingsbury is surprised and affronted when an official from U.S. Fish & Wildlife shows up at the park and demands a progress report to see how the government's money is being spent. This requires Kingsbury to quickly hire a legitimate biologist to wear the hat of "Project Manager", but since the biologist is legitimate, it does not take him long to discover that the "endangered" animals are poorly-disguised Pine Voles...
    • But it really stands out as Sammy Tigertail's main character flaw in Nature Girl. Midwestern tourist dies of a heart attack on your airboat tour? Toss him in the Gulf and go on the lam! Some kids from FSU stumble across your hideout? Take the cute one with you when she asks, and scare the others off with a few rifle shots! No way that could be misinterpreted! That tourist's ghost won't leave you alone? Shoot him! Whoops, you hit that private investigator by mistake...
  • Disney Owns This Trope:
    • Double Whammy: The Dragon's Uncle Shawn runs a tourist trap petting zoo just outside Orlando; the gift shop offers "bootleg" Mickey Mouse dolls holding Confederate flags; Jim Tile gets his needed information out of Shawn fairly quickly, pointing out that the dolls will get Disney's lawyers "all excited";
    • Native Tongue: Theme park owner Francis X. Kingsbury expresses his contempt for Disney World, and Disney in general, by having an image of Mickey Mouse being fellated by Minnie tattooed on his forearm. After his death, reports from his open-casket funeral lead to Disney suing his estate for copyright infringement.
  • Disposing of a Body:
    • Tourist Season: the Miami-Dade County coroner proposes a "mutilation theorem" that his county has more cases (per capita) of post-mortem dismemberment than any other place in the United States, for the simple reason that because of the warm climate, there is nothing to stop your typical Ax-Crazy maniac from spending six or seven hours hacking a corpse into pieces: "Try that in Buffalo and you'd freeze your ass off."
    • Skin Tight features a Wood Chipper of Doom being used (twice), but an even more inventive method is devised by one of the villains when they are stuck with the victim of Rudy Graveline's latest surgical mistake: passing the body off as a vagrant's and selling it to a medical supply firm that provides cadavers to Caribbean medical schools.
    • In Nature Girl, Sammy Tigertail interprets "get this dead tourist off the Seminole reservation" as "weigh him down with some anchors and dump him in the Gulf." He probably could have avoided a lot of trouble by coming up with a less suspicious solution, but if he had, it wouldn't be a Hiaasen story.
  • 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.
  • Doting Parent: George and Gilda Carson in Scat, who are firmly convinced their son Graham is a genius and every week urge the headmaster to skip him ahead at least one and possibly two grade levels.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Scat: A corrupt oil executive is forced to halt his illegal drilling operation after an anonymous tipster reports a sighting of a Florida panther near his land. The officer from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife remarks that the animals are not only highly endangered, but also quite beautiful, and asks the executive if he's ever seen a picture of one. The man gripes that he's seen stuffed cougars, which are legal to shoot and kill out west, and he doesn't see why panthers should be any different; his project manager Facepalms internally, reflecting that his boss couldn't have come up with a dumber thing to say, or a worse person to say it to, if he'd had a week to think it over.
  • Dumb Jock: Tuna Gordon in Chomp mentions she used to have a boyfriend:
    His name was Chad and he could do a hundred pushups. Unfortunately, he had the personality of a cabbage.
  • Dumb Muscle: Pedro Luz in "Native Tongue" is both very muscular (being a steroid addict) and very dumb.
  • Ear Ache:
    • Stormy Weather: Keith Higstrom's father swore off hunting forever after his teenage son blew off his left ear while trying to shoot down a bald eagle; despite the pain, and losing his job as an air traffic controller, his prevailing emotion was relief, since his son was such a "pure menace with a gun" that his father now had a solid excuse never to go hunting with him again.
    • Flush: Abbey Underwood is a "biter", and subdues the much larger teenager "Bull" by sinking her teeth into his earlobe.
  • Embarrassing First Name: In Chomp, Mickey Cray named his son "Wahoo" after his boyhood hero, pro wrestler Chief Wahoo McDaniel (whose actual first name was Edward). Said son intends to legally change his name as soon as he's old enough to do so, since everyone assumes he's been named after the saltwater fish, and naturally expect "someone called Wahoo to act loud and crazy, but that wasn't his style."
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • Double Whammy: Hot-Blooded R.J. Decker's ex-wife calls him "Rage."
    • Skin Tight: Blondell Wayne Tatum, after suffering electrolysis burns to his entire face, is nicknamed "Chemo", because he looks as if he is suffering from terminal melanoma, and the side effects of chemotherapy.
    • Stormy Weather: Lester Maddox Parsons is nicknamed "Snapper" after his jaw is broken by a police officer and heals thirty-six degrees out of alignment.
    • Flush: Paine Underwood was called "Paine-in-the-Butt" Underwood as a kid.
    • Razor Girl: Benny Krill earns the nickname "Blister" after scalding his buttocks in a pot of hot soup while trying to burglarize the kitchen of a homeless shelter.
  • Entitled to Have You: Louis Piejack towards Honey Santana in Nature Girl: the moment he laid eyes on her, he was "anesthetized by lust", and for him the only question was when, not if, he'd succeed in making her his "sex angel." Unfortunately, the elaborate fantasy he's constructed of life with Honey keeps getting punctured by the unmistakable signs that she's not into him. At all.
    "[F]or squeezing her boob, she'd walloped his nuts, and for clocking her bratty son, she'd nearly strangled him... Even in his addled state, Piejack comprehended that this was a woman who wouldn't settle easily into the role of obedient homemaker-slash-sex slave. He'd have to battle for every lousy feel, and she was strong enough to make him pay with blood."
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: It's often noted no matter how menacing and homeless Skink looks, his teeth are impeccably white and shiny. It was one of the reasons he was originally elected governor.
  • 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.
  • Everybody Did It: In Skin Tight, the press is always trying to figure out which of the nine Dade County Commissioners are honest and which ones aren't. The answer? None of them - each of the nine has his or her own set of crooked deals, but they habitually shuffle the votes so that every vote is 5-4, with different names making up the token opposition each time.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • In Native Tongue, Bud Schwartz "ha[s] been a two-bit burglar since he was seventeen", but his partner, Danny Pogue, admires him for his set of rules, which include "no guns, no violence, no hard drugs." Later, when Bud and Danny learn that public relations hack Charles Chelsea has hired a local actress to portray a 107-year-old woman as a publicity stunt for the Amazing Kingdom of Thrills' "Summerfest Jubilee", Bud remarks, "This is what you do for a living? And I thought we were scumbags."
    • 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.
    ...and 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 Cannot Comprehend Good: Hiaasen's corrupt or villainous characters, as intelligent as they otherwise are, simply cannot understand that the heroes are pursuing them for reasons of justice or integrity. In Skin Tight, after being captured by Mick Stranahan, corrupt plastic surgeon Rudy Graveline reasons that, in the end, Stranahan is no different from the other characters he has dealt with: "Surely Stranahan, like them, had a scam, an angle. Surely it involved money." The fact that Stranahan is genuinely furious over the fact that Graveline's incompetence killed a young college girl on his operating table is beyond his ken.
  • 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.
  • Expectation Lowerer: In-Universe. In Bad Monkey, Patrolman and "local bubba" Sonny Summers became the frontrunner in the Monroe County Sheriff's election after the two leading candidates were indicted on separate charges, simply because, in the laid-back atmosphere of the Florida Keys, it's not that hard to shine by comparison with the rest of the police department:
    Sonny Summers had received numerous commendations for not fucking up on the job. He was well-groomed, and diligent about his paperwork. He never took his girlfriends on dates in his squad car and smoked pot only on his days off.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: 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...).
  • Eye Scream: Skink loses his eye in Double Whammy, when a high school bully kicks him in the head with his cowboy boot.
  • Faking the Dead: Lampshaded by The Con in Bad Monkey, who scornfully reflects that plenty of other con artists have tried faking their own deaths to avoid prison time, as if the authorities will simply give up looking for them if they disappear under mysterious circumstances. This con man, however, thinks he's come up with a "foolproof" variation, leaving behind his own severed arm as irrefutable proof that he's dead.
  • 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.
  • The Fettered: most of Hiaasen's protagonists are journalists, police officers, or retired versions of same. Very often their choices are constrained by their loyalty to the ideals of journalistic ethics, or upholding the law, even if it gets them into trouble. In Basket Case, Jack Tagger stumbles onto a crime scene, but the state prosecutor says he can't act without a signed affidavit from Tagger attesting to what he saw, which Tagger can't sign because then he would be prohibited from writing the story;
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Outdoor Christian Network (OCN), an outdoors-themed religious broadcasting network tied to a televangelist's shady real estate development next to the Everglades (OCN is an anagram of "con")
  • 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.
  • Gaia's Vengeance:
    • Double Whammy: The Reverend Charles Weeb and the Outdoor Christian Network bribe their way past all zoning regulations and environmental procedures to build their "dream city" housing development on the edge of the Florida Everglades ...only to learn that the land they bought used to be one of the biggest and filthiest landfills in the state, so egregious that it somehow managed to escape the Environmental Protection Agency's notice to avoid being shut down.
    • Sick Puppy: When the supposedly docile rhino being stalked by the villains erupts into a berserk rage, Twilly's impulse is to tackle his dog, who provoked it, but Skink just says, "let it happen, son." From his tone of voice, Twilly finally understands that, in spite of the crushing setbacks he has experienced his whole life, watching his natural home being transformed into an environmental catastrophe, what sustains Skink is "an indefatigable faith that Nature eventually settles all scores, sets all things straight."
  • Glass Eye: Skink wears these in place of his missing eye; since they were originally crafted for taxidermied animals, the eyes are usually not a perfect fit for the socket, and of a disconcerting color.
    In Double Whammy, he plays this to maximum effect, causing his eye to pop out and roll across the stage in front of a studio audience of several hundred people, after being "healed" by the charlatan Reverend Weeb.
  • 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.
  • Goofy Suit:
    • In Native Tongue, everyone is surprised to find that the Amazing Kingdom of Thrills' "Robbie the Raccoon" mascot is played by a female. She remarks ruefully that the costume gets miserably hot during all times of the year (since there is no cooling unit installed). She also mentions that there is a strict policy against removing her costume's head outside the dressing room, or else the kids might get the wrong idea - which she adds is entirely pointless, since several of the kids can tell she is a woman, and have tried to "grab my boobs" through the costume.
    • In Flush, the protagonists' grandparents were both performers at Disney World, his grandfather playing Pluto. He hated his job so much that the last straw came when one kid tried (yet again) to tug on his tail, at which point the grandfather "turned and booted the kid halfway up Main Street, U.S.A." Before the park could fire him, he and his wife quit their jobs and moved to Canada. The protagonist remarks that his family has visited them a handful of times, but his grandfather adamantly refuses to set foot in Florida again, sure that he's on some kind of watch list and Disney has mooks waiting to seize him.
  • Grammar Nazi:
    • Basket Case: the protagonist, veteran news reporter Jack Tagger, does not bother to conceal his low opinion of his newspaper's publisher Race Maggad III:
      Maggad: To who? Sell it to who?
      Tagger: To whom. Really, Race.
    • In Star Island, ex-convict "Chemo", the bodyguard for Spoiled Brat pop star "Cherry Pye" is so aggravated by her Valley Girl speech patterns that he makes a list of prohibited words and applies a shock with a cattle prod whenever she uses one (beginning with "like", "awesome", "sweet", "sick", "totally", "hot", "dude", "bogus" and "yo"); he is also scrupulous to advise Cherry that there will be "no volts for acceptable usage," such as using "like" as a verb rather than an interjection: "'I like good weed' instead of, 'I want some, like, good weed.'"
  • Great Way to Go: Subverted; whenever a character's death is referenced, one of his friends will say, "at least he died doing something he loved," or some variant thereof, and another character will privately reflect how trite the sentiment is:
    • Double Whammy: Dennis Gault, the Big Bad, dies when he refuses to let go of a world-record largemouth bass he has hooked, and is pulled face-first onto his own boat's spinning propeller. Skink remarks, "In a way, I almost admire the sonofabitch." Dennis's sister, Lanie, is not consoled.
    • Basket Case: Ike, a nonagenarian retired obituary writer, is pulled off a pier by a giant tarpon; Jack, an obituary writer himself, sees inevitable comparisons with Ernest Hemingway and the the trite statement, "at least he died doing something he loved" to which Jack silently rejoins, "which is what? Choking on seawater?"
    • Sick Puppy: At Palmer Stoat's funeral, the minister comforts the mourners that "Palmer's last day was spent... walking the great outdoors [he] loved so much." No mention that he was trampled by the black rhinoceros he had arranged for his client to illegally shoot.
    • Skink - No Surrender: Richard's father, a physics teacher and avid skateboarder, crashed head-first into a parked delivery truck. At the funeral, one of his friends repeated, "at least [he] died doing something he loved" and Richard privately thought, "bleeding from his eardrums?"
  • Greed: The driving motivation for nearly all of Hiaasen's villainous characters; as Michael Grunwald, reviewing Skinny Dip for The New Republic, wrote:
    The rapacious villains of Hiaasen's crime novels do not just commit murder, extortion, assault, fraud, and every conceivable variety of larceny; they also park in handicapped spaces, cheat on their trophy wives, tell racist jokes, flaunt their wealth in unusually obnoxious ways, and mangle the lyrics to good rock-and-roll songs... They care more about their golf games than their families, and more about money than anything else on earth.
  • Green Aesop: A practically ubiquitous theme in all of Hiaasen's novels; partially deconstructed in Sick Puppy, when it is explained that nature can take care of itself just fine, but humans are the ones asking for trouble by not taking care of their environment, since they have to live in it.
  • 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.
  • Heel Realization: Buck Nance, f.k.a. Matthew Romburg, admits that his father raised him and his brothers to be "racist dickheads", and is more than happy to accept fame and fortune from his TV role as a redneck chicken farmer, but is genuinely sickened at what his self-proclaimed "biggest fan", Blister, has done to impress him, and realizes that "it was one thing to market a television program to attract low-class shit-kickers; it was another thing to create them."
  • Hidden Depths: In Flush, Jasper Muleman, Jr. 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 grandfather). 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. Jasper is incapacitated by smoke inhalation, and Bull saves his life by dragging him out of the burning wreckage. When Jasper tries to shift blame for the accident onto Bull, Bull "wisely terminat[es] the friendship" and gives a detailed statement to the fire investigators.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Played With in Native Tongue: Big Bad Francis X. Kingsbury's grammar is so atrocious under normal circumstances that getting drunk actually makes his speech more cogent.
  • Hoist With His Own Petard: a privilege of fiction writers that Hiaasen takes full advantage of:
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Most of Hiaasen's protagonists prefer the company of animals to humans, and are quick to recognize that while animals are more than capable of violence, it is never gratuitous as it is with humans; in Skink - No Surrender, Richard remembers his father saying that humans are the only species in which true evil occurs - violence is a common means of survival in the animal world, but humans are the only species who find pleasure in it.
  • 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.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Philosophical and hilariously quirky eco-warrior Skink doesn't appear until Double Whammy, the second book of the Hiaasen Shared Universe, but appears in almost every following book, has his own Wikipedia page, and even gets a passing mention in a Jimmy Buffett song. Surprisingly nuanced Giant Mook Chemo (who debuts a book after Skink in Skin Tight and returns in Star Island, the twelfth book) and Lovable Rogue hired mob kidnapper Merry Mansfield (the eponymous character in Razor Girl, the fifteenth book), also enjoy impressive amounts of popularity.
  • Ignored Epiphany: a recurring trope for Hiaasen's villainous characters, who are hit with the consequences of their own folly and ignorance over and over again, yet always fail to take the hint. As Michael Grunwald, reviewing Skinny Dip for The Washington Post summarized: The rapacious villains of Hiaasen's crime novels do not just commit murder, extortion, assault, fraud, and every conceivable variety of larceny; they also park in handicapped spaces, cheat on their trophy wives, tell racist jokes, flaunt their wealth in unusually obnoxious ways, and mangle the lyrics to good rock-and-roll songs... They don't listen and they don't learn.''
  • Immoral Journalist: Most of Hiaasen's protagonists get accused of this at some point.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Guns in every flavor are so abundant in Florida that few people take the time to become halfway decent shots.
    • Tourist Season: When Kara Lynn Shivers's father assures her that it should be perfectly safe for her to ride in the parade because "these police are expert marksmen", Keyes responds, "Mr. Shivers, you've been watching way too much TV... I guarantee you that half of them couldn't hit the S.S. Norway with a bazooka at ten paces."
    • Stormy Weather
      • Hunting enthusiast Keith Higstrom can't find anyone to go on hunting trips with him, since as a child he quickly crossed the line from "lousy shot" to "pure menace with a gun". During target practice with his father, Keith often broke down into tears until his father let him fire a few rounds from a shotgun "just so he could have the experience of hitting something."
      • Lester Maddox Parsons, a.k.a. "Snapper", went to prison for manslaughter after shooting his partner in crime... sort of.
        ''Snapper's indignant response was to display a nine-millimeter Glock... and attempt to empty said weapon into Sunny Shea. In all, Snapper fired eleven times from a distance of eight feet. Only six rounds struck Sunny Shea, and not one nicked a vital organ - quite a feat, considering that Sunny Shea weighed only a hundred and twenty pounds and hadn't an ounce of fat on his body. The hapless shooting exhibition was all the more remarkable because Snapper was stone sober at the time. Sunny Shea never lost consciousness, and was extremely cooperative when police inquired about the identity of his assailant.
      • The final indignity? Snapper went to prison after Sunny Shea died, not from one of Snapper's bullets, but because of a wrong injection in the emergency room.
  • Insistent Terminology: In Double Whammy, the Reverend Charles Weeb and his Outdoor Christian Network is aggressively marketing "Lunker Lakes", a new housing community targeted exclusively at bass fisherman. Any OCN employee who dares to use the words "canal" or "condo" in his sales pitch, or anywhere else, risks immediate firing:
    Damn it, Billy, you did it again. People don't buy town houses on canals. "Canal" is a dirty word. A canal is where raw sewage goes. A canal is where ducks fuck and cattle piss. Who wants to live on a damn canal? Would you pay a hundred fifty grand to do that? No. You'd want to live on a lake. A cool, scenic lake, and lakes is what we're selling here.
    Charlie Weeb was fanatical about using the term "town home", which was basically a fancy way of saying two-story condo. The trouble with using the word "condo" was (as every idiot in Florida knew) you couldn't charge a hundred and fifty thousand for a "condo" fourteen miles away from the ocean. For this reason, any Lunker Lakes salesman who spoke the word was immediately terminated. "Condos" carried a hideous connotation, Charlie Weeb had lectured. This wasn't a cheesy high-rise full of nasty old farts; this was a wholesome family community. With fucking bike paths!
  • 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.
  • I Reject Your Reality: George and Gilda Carson, the Doting Parents in Scat, who demand, on a weekly basis, that their "genius" son be skipped ahead at least one grade level. When the headmaster shows them that their son failed the aptitude tests, George just waves away the results and scoffs, "so he had one bad day, big deal!"
  • 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..."
    • In Stormy Weather, Skink muses that "mastodons once roamed Florida..."; in Squeeze Me, the President of the United States, who spends half the year at his "Winter White House" in Palm Beach, is code-named "Mastodon" by the Secret Service;
  • It Gets Easier: In Basket Case, Jack Tagger is one of the few people who knows that his fellow reporter Juan Rodriguez, while emigrating from Cuba on the Mariel Boatlift, stabbed two criminals who were trying to assault his sister, and dumped their bodies overboard. He had never killed anyone before, and never has since then, but when Jack asks him how to deal with another potentially deadly situation, Juan says:
    I'll tell you what I remember, Jack: I remember it seemed easy at the time. The bad stuff comes later.
  • It's Cuban: In Sick Puppy, the Cigar Chomper villain, Palmer Stoat, collects boxes of various Cuban cigars and displays them in his den along with various taxidermied animal heads, as trophies. He gets his comeuppance when one of his clients points out that at least one of the cigars he has been smoking is counterfeit, which Stoat refuses to believe because of the exorbitant amount he paid.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Hiaasen often specializes in creating a scene in which the hero/protagonist confronts the villain(s), trying to understand the motives for their actions, but always ends up unsatisfied with the outcome, when the villains turn out to be just as lazy, greedy, shallow and vacuous as their actions make them appear:
    • Double Whammy: R.J. Decker confronts the beautiful but empty-headed former model, Lanie Gault, who admits to helping her brother Dennis frame Decker for the murder of Dickie Lockhart; even when she knew Decker was innocent, she pleads that she didn't want her brother to go to jail; what makes her confession even lamer is that she honestly had no idea Dennis arranged the murder of her boyfriend;
    • Skin Tight: Mick Stranahan extracts a confession from crooked plastic surgeon Rudy Graveline, who admits that he accidentally killed a college coed during a nose job, but continues to insist that he's "an excellent surgeon", and it was just "terrible luck" that he got distracted by a basketball game he was listening to on the radio during the surgery.
    • Native Tongue: Joe Winder attempts to blackmail Francis X. Kingsbury into canceling his plans to develop a nature preserve into a golf course; Kingsbury is at a loss to understand why anyone would object to these plans, and accuses Winder and other environmentalists of being selfish: "I hear this line of bullshit all the time: we got our little slice of sunshine, fine, now it's time to close the borders!" Later, when Winder has narrowly survived a murder attempt by Kingsbury's mooks, he seeks Skink spreading gasoline over Kingsbury's theme park, and reflects, "he had tried too hard to be reasonable and civilized and possibly even clever. Such efforts were wasted on men such as Francis X. Kingsbury."
    • Sick Puppy: Standing at the grave of her husband, Desirata Stoat reflects that he would be alive if he had "discovered an inner moral compass" and backed out of the development project that turned out so disastrously for him, but chides herself that she should have known there was no reasonable chance of that happening.
    • Skinny Dip: Joey doesn't want to murder her husband (even after he tried to murder her), as much as she wants to understand why he did it in the first place, and why he married her if he had so little regard for her; his answers, extracted under the influence of drugs, fail to satisfy her;
    • Nature Girl: Honey Santana arranges an elaborate scheme to lure rude telemarketer Boyd Shreave and his girlfriend, Eugenie Fonda, on a kayaking trip into the Ten Thousand Islands, then confronts him over a campfire over his immoral conduct. Boyd shrugs the incident off to Honey's craziness, and demands to be shown the way back to Florida City; Honey asks if he isn't the least bit moved by the natural beauty of the island:
    Honey: Be honest—did you ever see any place so amazing?
    Boyd: Only every week on Survivor.
  • Karmic Death: Hiaasen positively delights in dishing these out; frequently crossed with Ignored Epiphany and Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk, as the villains remain entirely oblivious to the folly or wrongness of their own actions, and so likewise oblivious to the irony of their own fates.
    • Double Whammy: Dennis Gault, having arranged the murder of Dickie Lockhart in the bass-fishing circuit and framed R.J. Decker for the crime to escape blame, hooks what he believes will be a world-record bass, and is pulled over his boat's transom to fall face-first onto his own propeller.
    • Skin Tight: Reynaldo Flemm, the Attention Whore shock journalist, comes up with a self-described "brilliant" plan for getting an interview with a crooked plastic surgeon: scheduling an abdominoplasty with him, and planning for his cameraman to burst into the operating theatre during the surgery. The results are predictably grisly.
    • Native Tongue: Francis X. Kingsbury, actually a mob snitch on the run from the Gotti family, refuses to close his theme park and leave the state when the U.S. Marshal's office warns him the mob may have located him; he welcomes his park's phony five millionth visitor into his office - only for that visitor to draw a gun and identify himself as a hit man.
    • Sick Puppy: Palmer Stoat and Robert Clapley, who spend most of their time shooting illegal game that is too old and too sick to run, let alone pose a threat, are trampled and gored (respectively) by an African black rhinoceros.
    • Star Island: Crooked real estate developer Jackie Sebago has defrauded his investors out of $9 million; the Groin Attack inflicted on him by Skink only delays the inevitable, when he is killed by a hit man hired by one of the disgruntled investors.
  • Kid Has a Point: It is a recurring trope in Hiaasen's novels for young adults (Hoot, Flush, Chomp, Scat and Squirm) that the child characters are often more clear-thinking and better planners than their parents and teachers;
    • In Flush especially, amateur eco-terrorist Paine Underwood impulsively sinks the casino boat he claims is dumping sewage near a public beach; he is thrown in jail, while the boat is re-floated, repaired and back in business within a week; his son, Noah, has the idea of sneaking aboard the boat and pouring food coloring into the toilets, creating a vividly colored trail when the sewage is dumped in the morning, leading to the boat being shut down and investigated by the Coast Guard; Noah's grandfather, who confides that Paine's impulsiveness earned him the nickname "Paine-in-the-Butt" as a child, remarks:
    Grandpa Bobby: You've gotta admit, this is much cooler than sinking the man's boat.
    Paine: Yeah, Pop, thanks for pointing that out.
  • Lazy Alias: Onus Dean Gillespie, after being disowned by his family, adopted his childhood nickname of "Chub", and "decided to wait until something good popped into his head" for a surname. The mail in his dingy house trailer is addressed to "C. Smith," "C. Jones" or "Mr. Chub."
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: In Native Tongue, Pedro Luz's foot is trapped under a car, and he decides the best way of escape is to chew it off below the ankle. It forces him to use crutches or a wheelchair, but he proudly shows off his stump as proof of how tough he is.
    Pedro: Animals do it all the time, when they get caught in traps.
  • Loosely Basedona True Story: Hiaasen has often said in interviews that even his most bizarre characters and situations are partly inspired by real-life events, which is possible because, well, Onlyin Florida:
    • Stormy Weather takes place in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew;
    • Razor Girl was inspired by a real-life incident of Megan Barnes, who crashed her car on the Florida Overseas Highway after taking her hands off the wheel to shave her bikini zone.
  • 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.
  • Macho Masochism: Skin Tight. Reynaldo Flemm (an Expy of Geraldo Rivera), the shock television journalist, is less famous for his "skills" as an investigative reporter than his willingness to get beaten up on camera; at one point he confides to his producer that his secret fantasy is to get shot on camera, and to continue broadcasting while being loaded into an ambulance. When said producer is nearly killed during a gunfight, Reynaldo is so jealous that he decides to go one better by scheduling a procedure with the crooked doctor the team is investigating, planning for his cameraman to ambush the doctor during the surgery. It doesn't end well.
  • Mad Bomber: Subverted in Tourist Season: anti-Castro terrorist Jesus Bernal loves playing with C-4, but, being entirely self-taught as a bombmaker, his boss tells him "you couldn't blow up a balloon." Although a handful of his bombs actually detonate when they are meant to, and succeed in killing one or two Asshole Victims, this is usually considered a fluke.
  • Mail-Order Bride: In Nature Girl, Louis Piejack shudders at the memory of a shrimper friend who tried getting one from the Philippines; he was expecting a grateful, subservient Sex Slave, but instead, "three days into the honeymoon she'd pinned his scrotum to the bed with a cocktail fork, then set fire to the motel room."
  • Mama Bear: Honey Santana in Nature Girl: Honey's quixotic quest to "fix the entire human race, one flaming asshole at a time", began when her son was born; seeing a man speeding recklessly down her street, Honey threw a garbage can in the path of his car, and screamed in his face, "this could have been my son you flattened!" When her stalker, Piejack, clubs her son in the head with the butt of a shotgun, Honey sees red and tries to strangle him with her bare hands.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Sammy Tigertail in Nature Girl is repeatedly visited by Wilson's "ghost," and a bald eagle that may or may not represent the spirit of Skip Wiley from Tourist Season.
  • 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.
  • Moral Myopia: In Tourist Season, Skip Wiley considers himself perfectly justified in kidnapping Kara Lynn Shivers and leaving her to die in an island explosion, but is shocked and outraged when Brian Keyes evens the score by bringing Wiley's girlfriend Jenna to the island, ensuring that all four of them will be killed.
  • 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."
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: In Chomp, the protagonist's mother, who tutors American businessmen in speaking Mandarin, has to go to Shanghai for two months after one of her client's executives, who "learn[ed] Mandarin from some cheap audio tape... tried to say 'nice shoes' and accidentally told a government minister that his face looked like a butt wart."
  • Named After Somebody Famous:
    • Strip Tease: Jesse James Braden and his younger brother, Francis Scott Braden;
    • Native Tongue: Mafioso Frankie "The Ferret" King's mother named him after Frankie Lane;
    • Stormy Weather: Lester Maddox Parsons, a.k.a. "Snapper"
    • Lucky You: Thomas Paine Krome;
    • Skinny Dip: Samuel Johnson Hammernut, a.k.a. "Red"; likewise, Hank and Lana Wheeler, part-owners of a casino in Reno, Nevada, named their children after well-known stage performers Joey Heatherton and Corbett Monica.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: a practically ubiquitous theme in every one of Hiaasen's novels, also frequently used as a particular subversion of This Is Reality:
    • Tourist Season: columnist Skip Wiley castigates Florida's tourism bureau for selling the state as tropical and exotic, and yet entirely safe, tranquil and civilized - "Newark with palm trees"; in one of the penultimate chapters, Hiaasen narrates the early, rapacious process by which Florida was developed:
    "Their inventiveness and tenacity and utter contempt for the wilderness around them would set the tone for the development of South Florida. They preserved only what was free and immutable - the sunshine and the sea - and marked the rest for destruction. Because, how otherwise could you sell it?"
    • Double Whammy: Dennis Gault, a self-proclaimed outdoorsman and champion bass fisherman, is killed when he tries to boat the world's biggest largemouth bass; later, while speeding to rescue his "partner" (the same bass), Skink bellows:
    ''Confrontation is the essence of nature! Confrontation is the rhythm of life! In nature, violence is pure and purposeful, one species against another in an act of survival!"
    • Native Tongue:
    Joe Winder: "You'll never understand, because you weren't born here. Compared to where you came from, this is always going to look like paradise. Hell, you could wipe out every last bird and butterfly, and it's still better than Toledo in the dead of winter."
    Francis X. Kingsbury: "No kidding."
    • Skink - No Surrender:
    Richard: "I once asked my father, who was super laid-back, if he believed in evil... he said that true evil was rare, but yes, it was real. He also said it didn't occur in any species except humans, and I believe he was right. Violence and brutal domination exist in the animal world, but as a means of survival, not for sport or sick amusement."
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • No Party Given: Subverted In-Universe: while the Corrupt Politicians in Hiaasen's novels are sometimes identified as Democrats or Republicans, it is also made clear that their party affiliation has nothing at all to do with their corruption, or general incompetence;
    • In Strip Tease, the egregiously corrupt Congressman Dilbeck is a Democrat, but after he is forced to leave his office, his position as the sugar industry's favored crony is promptly filled by his most vocal opponent on the agricultural committee, a Republican.
    • Deconstructed in Sick Puppy by the antagonist Palmer Stoat:
      As a lobbyist, he had long ago concluded that there was no difference in how Democrats and Republicans conducted the business of government. The game stayed the same; it was always about favors and friends and who controlled the dough. Party labels were merely a way to keep track of the teams; issues were mostly smoke and vaudeville. Nobody believed in anything except hanging on to power, whatever it took.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: In Tourist Season, even though the authorities know Las Noches de Diciembre is targeting the Orange Bowl Queen, their leader is furious when one of their number gets caught in the act of surveilling her (the fact that he also gets soundly beaten with a tennis racket probably adds to the humiliation):
    It's the difference between knowing there's a panther somewhere in the bush, and seeing that panther with your own eyes. What's more frightening: wondering where it is, or finding it?
  • Not That Kind of Doctor:
    • In Tourist Season, a cruise ship passenger introduces himself as a doctor; a few moments later, his wife is bitten by a poisonous snake dropped onto the deck, and he helplessly explains, "I'm just a radiologist!"
    • In Double Whammy, the doctor conscripted to autopsy the first murder victim is a clinical pathologist, not a full-time coroner ("he addressed warts, tumors and cysts with ease and certitude, but corpses of all kinds terrified him.") He spends only as much time with the body as is necessary to confirm the deputy's theory that the man drowned after a boat crash, not even bothering to turn the body over to see some very obvious signs that the man was attacked, overpowered, and strapped into the seat of his boat to Make It Look Like an Accident.
      • When called to the morgue, he reflects that "he sometimes wished he'd gone into radiology, like his dumb cousin."
    • Skin Tight: Rudy Graveline finished dead last in his medical school class, "barely squeaked through a residency in radiology", and has never been trained or certified in cosmetic surgery, but no law prohibits him from practicing it, or declaring it to be his specialty, and his "rich, vain, and impatient" patients would never bother to check.
    • Skinny Dip: Chaz Perrone's original plan was to go to medical school and become a radiologist, which he saw as the best way of getting rich off medicine without "interacting with actual sick people."
  • 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.
  • Nudity Equals Honesty: In Sick Puppy, Skink, needing more information about the dog and woman he's supposed to rescue, breaks into the home of their owner/husband, sleazebag lobbyist Palmer Stoat, and interrupts Stoat while he's in the shower by smashing the glass door, because, in his words, "in my experience, men who are buck naked and scared nutless tend to be more forthcoming. They tend to have better memories."
  • Only in Florida: Hiaasen's solo novels and young adult novels run on this trope.
  • The Peter Principle: In Bad Monkey, "local bubba" Sonny Summers won the election to Sheriff of Monroe County by default, after the two frontrunners were both indicted on separate charges. Sonny Summers was one of the most punctual and diligent patrolmen in Key West, but he has no business being Sheriff of the whole county, and desperately tries to hide it.
  • Pop-Culture Isolation: In-Universe. Several of Hiaasen's protagonists live in a self-imposed isolation that leaves them ignorant of pop culture trends; Hiaasen makes clear that they do not feel the lack;
    • Skin Tight: Retired investigator Mick Stranahan lives on a stilt house in Biscayne Bay, and rarely visits the mainland except for groceries, and has no television or radio; when a female model compliments his eyes, comparing them to Sting's, he thanks her, but privately reflects that he doesn't know "who the hell she was talking about. Maybe one of those pro wrestlers on cable TV."
    • Nature Girl: When Honey Santana reprimands her son for using the F-word:
      Frye: You let me watch The Sopranos.
      Honey: Only once. I thought it was about opera, God help me.
    • Skink - No Surrender: Clinton "Skink" Tyree has lived in the wilds since the 1970's. Teenager Richard compares conversing to him to traveling with a space alien.
      Richard: Haven't you ever seen The Big Lebowski?
      Skink: The Big What?
      Richard: It was a movie classic.
      Skink: I haven't been to the movies since 1978.
  • Porn Names: Several of Hiaasen's female characters adopt "shamelessly porny name[s]", not because they are literally entering the sex industry, but as a way of advertising their sexuality in order to boost their public images:
    • Basket Case: Cynthia "Cindy" Jane Ziegler re-invents herself as "Cleo Rio" after a music video in which she deliberately flashes her pubic hair at the camera;
    • Star Island: pop star Cheryl Gail Bunterman debuted her stage name "Cherry Pye" at age 14, just before being cast in a Nickelodeon made-for-TV movie (her mother invented the name; her father suggested "Cherry Pop");
    • Razor Girl: Reality show star Buck Nance's mistress goes by the "porny name of Miracle" (her real name is never revealed)
  • The Power of Language: as a news reporter, Hiaasen has experienced, and explores, this trope to the fullest. In Tourist Season, to Skip Wiley, terrorism is just an extreme form of P.R. campaign:
    What grabs the headlines? Murder, mayhem, and madness! The three cardinal 'M's of the newsroom!
  • Pretender Diss:
    • In Double Whammy, sugar baron and fanatic bass fisherman Dennis Gault is practically dripping with snide machismo. He hires the protagonist, R.J. Decker, to get photographic proof of Gault's rival, Dickie Lockhart, cheating on the tournament circuit. Gault's sister, Elaine, confides that her brother hates Dickie's cheating so much that his first idea was to hire hit men.
      Lanie: He says that's what Hemingway would have done.
      Decker: No, Hemingway would have done it himself.
    • In Chomp, producer Gerry Germaine suggests that there's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity about TV survivalist Derek Badger going missing in the Everglades: "Remember those trapped miners down in Chile? When they got out, they were total rock stars." Derek's personal assistant, Raven Starke, internally reflects that Derek (whose real name is Lee Bluepenny and who was originally a folk dancer in Canada) "wouldn’t have lasted 24 hours in that cold, black hole without losing his marbles[.]"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Bad Monkey: Medicare fraudster Nicholas Stripling goes the extra mile when faking his own death, by having his arm amputated and arranging for it to be found in Florida. The protagonist's girlfriend, a coroner, admits that while more than a few con artists are willing to give up a finger, giving up a whole arm is "a new one." Stripling himself boasts about the "jumbo-sized cojones" it took for him to go through with the amputation, but it's fairly clear from the narrative that his decision was less about bravery than his sheer terror of going to prison.
  • Returning the Wedding Ring: In Sick Puppy, Desirata Stoat was 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.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense:
    • Tourist Season: Five minutes of conversation with wealthy tax lawyer Reed Shivers leaves private investigator Brian Keyes wondering "how this clown ever made it through Yale Law."
    • Double Whammy: Sugar cane baron Dennis Gault insists on arriving at bass fishing tournaments in his burgundy Rolls-Royce, then acts surprised and infuriated when the other contestants dismiss him as "the Rich Guy from Miami".
    • Sick Puppy: Palmer Stoat proudly exhibits boxes of authentic Cuban cigars that he has bought from local dealers, only to be told that at least one, for which he paid $300, is loaded with counterfeits.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: In Nature Girl, Gillian's conservative parents are alarmed at the thought of her going to college at Florida State University in Tallahassee, "a notorious party town", especially after reading a "tawdry newspaper story about a prominent state legislator who put his favorite Hooters waitress on the state payroll."note 
  • 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.
  • Safety in Indifference: Most of Hiaasen's journalistic characters get accused of this, and some of those characters concede that their accusers may have a point; because they are required to be as objective as possible when reporting the news, they are forced to be as impersonal when observing all manner of horrific and heart-wrenching scenes.
    • In Tourist Season, Brian Keyes ex-girlfriend Jenna delivers an "emasculatory harangue", explaining that she left him because he was always content to be a neutral observer, instead of a participant in great events.
    • In Double Whammy, R.J. Decker quit his job as a staff photographer after shooting the scene of a co-worker's murder, whose new husband left her in the trunk of a car, strangled with a coat hanger. What alarmed and disgusted Decker was not witnessing the dead body of someone he knew, but rather that he photographed the scene as dispassionately (even avidly) as if she were a complete stranger.
  • 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 both Skink and Garcia:
    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."
    • Lanie Gault, fondly remembering her recently-deceased boyfriend, says he loved fishing as much as her brother, but unlike her brother, could see how loony their obsession looks from the outside;
    • Twilly Spree, 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.
  • Sexual Karma: 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, and is pleasantly surprised by her new physical relationship with the protagonist, Mick Stranahan:
    While Mick wasn't as robotically durable as her husband, he was far more attentive, tender and enterprising. For Joey it was something of a revelation. With Mick, there was no furtive peeking at his own clenched buttocks in the mirror, no collegial exhorting of his manhood, no self-congratulatory rodeo yells when he was finished. In Chaz's embrace Joey had often felt like a pornographic accessory, one of those rubber mail-order vaginas. With Mick, she was an actual participant; a lover. The orgasms had been quake-like with Chaz, but then he would immediately demand to hear all about them; he was always more interested in the reviews than in the intimacies. With Mick, the climax was no less intense, but the aftermath was sweeter, because he never broke the mood by asking her to grade his performance.
  • Shown Their Work: Hiaasen, a former investigative reporter, does his homework, and nearly every one of his novels features an academically-toned passage educating the reader on a subject which happens to be very pertinent to the plot, including:
    • The early settlement history of "Fort Dallas", later Miami (Tourist Season)
    • The distribution and feeding habits of the largemouth bass (Double Whammy)
    • Surgical procedures and potential complications from liposuction (Skin Tight)
    • Sugar cane farming (Strip Tease)
    • The demise of the Everglades (Lucky You and Skinny Dip)
    • The history of the Calusa people, and the Creeks and Seminoles who came to south Florida after them (Nature Girl)
    • The decline and rebound of the American alligator (Chomp)
    • The proliferation of the Burmese python in South Florida (Squeeze Me)
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Deconstructed in Nature Girl, by Eugenie Fonda to Honey Santana's 12-year-old son:
    Eugenie: [Y]ou gotta make me a blood promise... Don't ever change. By that I mean don't grow up to be a jerkoff like ninety percent of the men I meet.
    Fry: Mom always tells me the same thing. Except she says it's more like ninety-five.
    Eugenie: Best advice you'll ever get. Stay a gentleman, and you'll never be alone. Don't lie, don't bullshit, don't fuck around—Christ, I can't believe I said 'fuck around' to a fourteen-year-old boy!
  • Skewed Priorities: Tourist Season:
    • During the meeting to discuss the City's response to terrorist threats from Las Noches de Diciembre:
      Orange Bowl Chairman: Sergeant, you don't seem to understand what's at stake here.
      Al Garcia: Human lives, that's all I'm concerned about.
      Orange Bowl Chairman: It's much more than that! NBC is here...! And let's not forget the theme of this year's parade, "Tropical Tranquility".
    • Likewise, when Brian Keyes urges Kara Lynn Shivers to drop out of the parade because of the terrorists' threats directed specifically at her:
      Reed Shivers: Sweetie, it's the Orange Bowl Parade! Forty million people will be watching, including all the top talent agents from Hollywood and New York!
    • When Kara Lynn's father challenges that if the threat was real, the City would just cancel the parade, Keyes retorts:
      You know Miami better than that. Christ Himself could carry the Cross down Biscayne Boulevard, and they'd still run the Orange Bowl Parade right over his body.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: In Stormy Weather, con artist Edie Marsh partners with "Snapper" to carry out "a harmless insurance scam". By the end of the novel, they've abducted three people and Snapper has shot a police officer in public, leaving Edie sobbing in despair and contemplating life in prison.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: a recurring problem for nearly all of Hiaasen's female protagonists, who are often exceptionally attractive and whose brains, skills and feelings are regarded as at best a lucky bonus and at worst an inconvenience that their male admirers have to deal around; often crossed with Single Woman Seeks Good Man;
    • Tourist Season: The newly-crowned Orange Bowl Queen, Kara Lynn Shivers, secretly hates the whole beauty queen "racket" and has had to develop a robust sense of humor to cope with the fact that none of the males in her life (including her own father) credit her with actually having a brain, or a voice of her own;
    • Skin Tight: Christina Marks, the executive producer for the talk show ''In Your Face!" was hired for her looks by the host, Reynaldo "Ray" Flemm; her talent as a journalist quickly elevates her to a more important position, but she constantly has to deal with Ray hitting on her and overlooking her contributions to the show's success;
    • Sick Puppy: Desirata "Desie" Stoat's plans to earn a teaching degree in college were derailed by her engagement to a professional basketball player who spoke no English, and after that she had a string of equally vapid fiances, before finally marrying lobbyist Palmer Stoat. While Palmer treats her well materially, she is acutely aware that she is a Trophy Wife and her husband has zero interest in what she thinks or feels.
  • Society Is to Blame: subverted to the nth degree. In nearly all of Hiaasen's novels, there is at least one villainous or criminal character whose backstory makes clear that they started out with affectionate parents, good teachers, and no obvious trauma or temptation towards criminality, and yet they became criminals anyway, largely because they are too lazy to pay attention in school or hold legitimate jobs. In Skink - No Surrender, Richard remembers two of his classmates being arrested (separately) for petty burglaries, and reflects that their parents are both good, solid people, "so what happened?":
    That's a harsh fact in every school in every town. Not everyone wants to work hard, and not everyone has a wonderful life ahead. Certain kids are going to flame out in the grownup world-either crash and burn, or flop the old-fashioned, lazy way. Sad but true.
  • Sub-Par Supremacist:
    • Double Whammy: when Harney County's high school athletic program abandons its dismal football team in favor of basketball, "a few old crackers" protest that this means recruiting students from Harney's black neighborhood, which "wasn't fair to the good Christian white kids." The high school administration's deadpan response is that "the good Christian white kids were mostly slow and fat, and couldn't make a layup from a trampoline."
    • Stormy Weather: Snapper's parents were expelled from the Ku Klux Klan after his father got "customarily shitfaced" and accidentally set fire to a rally's Grand Kleagle instead of the towering cross; to add insult to injury, the doctor who saved the Kleagle's life at the hospital was black.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: In Scat, The Dragon is planning to pose as a septic tank inspector to plant evidence and frame Duane Scrod Jr. for an arson that the dragon committed. When he knocks on the door, Duane Sr. asks if he's there about unpaid taxes. Deciding that this is a better cover story, he says that he is. This gets him physically assaulted, as there's no lost love between Duane Sr. and the IRS.
  • Take That!: Most of Hiaasen's novels go after those who went after the Florida Everglades, but he 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.
  • 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].
  • There Should Be a Law: Played With in Double Whammy: there is a law that punishers reckless boaters who kill manatees, but the fine imposed is so paltry that the law's deterrent value is practically nil, especially to out-of-state tourists who can claim ignorance of it; during his governorship, Clinton "Skink" Tyree campaigned for a law that would have required any offender to immediately forfeit his boat (whether it was a dinghy or a full-size motor yacht) and either pay a $10,000 fine or go to jail for 45 days, and bury the dead manatee himself at a public ceremony.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: Hiaasen likes to have fun with this trope.
    • Lucky You:
      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:
      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.
    • 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.
    • Razor Girl:
      ...However, true events in South Florida provided the lurid material for certain strands of this novel, beginning with the opening scene. The author also wishes he'd dreamed up the part about the giant Gambian pouched rats, but he didn't. Those suckers are real.
    • Squeeze Me:
      ...However, the proliferation of Burmese pythons throughout South Florida-and their indiscriminate feeding habits-are accurately represented.
  • This Is Going to Be Huge:
    • Double Whammy: The Reverend Charles Weeb is confident that his housing development in Florida "couldn't miss", and is unable to understand why no one is buying; he remains oblivious to the fact that he's invented a formula for disaster: targeting the development exclusively at bass fishing enthusiasts, then locating luxurious town-homes (read: overpriced condos) on the edge of narrow, man-made canals. Advance sales are already moving at a snail's pace when he learns that he inadvertently built his housing development over a landfill and the lake water is too toxic for fish, or any other living thing.
    • Sick Puppy: At least seven previous attempts have been made to develop the small "Toad Island" on Florida's Gulf Coast, and most of its current population is made up of "casualties from those doomed enterprises". The island's unofficial "mayor", Nils Fishback, eagerly invested his life savings to buy 17 vacant lots on the island during the initial hype for the "Towers of Tarpon Island" project, which collapsed as soon as its two principal investors (mid-level Colombian drug kingpins) were arrested and most of their assets on the island seized by the DEA.
    • Nature Girl has two characters who went through this:
      • Eugenie Fonda, f.k.a. Jean Leigh Hill, had a brief affair with 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, from which she received 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;
      • Boyd Shreave's mother Della, whose many disappointments in life include her father cashing in his Shell Oil pension to invest it all in the Delorean Motor Company, leaving nothing to pass to his daughter.
  • Toad Licking: Averted in Stormy Weather: Skink sometimes smokes homemade joints made with bufotenin extract, but says the process of extraction from the cane toad is "special" (i.e., more complicated than simply licking one).
  • Too Stupid To Live:
    • Tourist Season: after being kicked out of Al Garcia's office, overeager Ricky Bloodworth sees a package on his desk from the terrorists, with a hate message to Garcia on the shipping label, and decides to open it himself, expecting a "treasure trove of clues" and his ticket to an exclusive story. That the bomb inside only maims him instead of killing him is more due to Jesus Bernal's poor construction and blind luck than Bloodworth's own prudence.
    • Stormy Weather: Keigh Higstrom, an enthusiastic hunter who's also a hopelessly lousy shot (his father swore off hunting forever after the young Keith accidentally shot his ear off), stalks his neighborhood after Hurricane Andrew to shoot a stray cow or horse, and is thrilled to see a Cape Buffalo released from a nearby wildlife farm; when the animal prepares to charge at him, he excitedly takes aim with his rifle, misses twice, and is trampled and gored to death;
    • Basket Case: subverted for laughs: Janet Thrush says her father was a very smart college professor, but still died in an exceptionally stupid way: while having sex with one of his students, her boyfriend showed up unexpectedly, and he decided to escape by jumping out the window; "Too bad he taught English Lit and not physics."
    • Nature Girl: watching antagonist Boyd Shreave's hapless attempts to climb a tree, Honey Santana reflects that "the man's a born straggler, another lucky exception to the rules of natural selection. A million years ago he would've been an easy snack for a saber-toothed tiger."
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • Skin Tight: The thing that convinces most people who meet Mick Stranahan that he's "monstrously deranged" is that his calm demeanor seems unconnected to his Ax-Crazy actions; when he caught his then-wife in bed with another man, he didn't lay a hand on his wife, but calmly took the man outside and Krazy-Glued his testicles to the hood ornament of his Cadillac.
    • Sick Puppy: When Twilly Spree sees a woman repeatedly littering on the highway, Desirata Stoat sees the muscles in his arms and neck corded tight, but only "gelid calm" in his eyes, which scares the hell out of her.
  • 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 hit man falls into a tank at a "Sea World"-like attraction, and drowns while being "assaulted" by the oversexed dolphin that lives in the tank.
    • In Basket Case, one of obituary writer Jack Tagger's subjects is a local politician who died mid-coitus in the company of a woman who was not his wife; to make things worse, the woman in question tried putting his clothes back on postmortem, leading The Coroner to dryly ask how the deceased came to be wearing his left shoe on his right foot, and vice-versa.
  • Unknown Rival: Double Whammy: Sugar tycoon Dennis Gault hates celebrity bass fisherman Dickie Lockhart so intensely that he casts himself as Dickie's "archenemy" and deliberately stays away from a tournament in Lousiana, in the hopes that Dickie will "let his guard down" and be caught cheating while Gault's private investigator is watching;
    • During the parts of the novel narrated from Dickie's perspective, nothing indicates he is even aware Gault exists.
    • In fact, what drives Gault so insane about Dickie is not his routine cheating in bass tournaments, but rather that Dickie is the celebrity "Good Ole Boy" on the fishing circuit, while Gault himself is shunned and ignored as a rich dilettante.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Skink has good intentions, but can go well over the top in execution. He has committed many murders and tortured people somewhat graphically, but they're always Asshole Victims. That being said they range from being environmentally irresponsible to outright criminal. He's also not above causing panic with innocent people as well.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Hiaasen likes to have fun with this one:
    • In Tourist Season, anti-Castro terrorist Jesus Bernal is mortified when his package bomb detonates prematurely, destroying nothing except the mailbox:
      No one was killed, no one was injured. It wasn't even a particularly loud explosion, by Miami standards.
    • In Skin Tight, the villains are trying to dispose of a body by "donating" it to a medical supply company. One of them is worried when the proprietor comes outside to inspect the body in their car's trunk, but no one on the street pays attention, since "half the people in Miami did their business out of car trunks."
    • On two separate occasions in Native Tongue, onlookers come across dead bodies and treat it as a tourist spectacle (in both cases, the fact that the corpses are partially nude causes more disapproval and horror than the fact that they are dead).
  • Vice President Who?: In Double Whammy, Clinton Tyree chooses to resettle in Harney County after resigning as governor because it is one of the least politically active counties in the state, and therefore no one will recognize him - according to one poll, fewer than 5% of the county's residents can correctly name a single Vice President of the U.S. in the entirety of the nation's history.
  • Viewers Are Morons: In-Universe in Double Whammy: After successfully launching his evangelical TV show, the Reverend Charles Weeb creates the "Outdoor Christian Network", based on a simple formula of "religion, hunting, fishing, farm stock reports and country music awards shows." Even Weeb is astonished by how popular and profitable it turns out to be, reflecting "it confirmed everything he had ever said about the state of the human race."
    • Weeb spends an evening with a star-struck lap dancer, who says her whole family watches his show every Sunday and offers him $200 and a blowjob in exchange for a prayer to cure her father's gout; Weeb thinks, "it's true what they say about the power of television."
  • 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 of 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.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Native Tongue: Francis X. Kingsbury has become more successful as a (semi) legitimate businessman than he ever was in a lifetime of mid-level racketeering, but like any ex-mafioso, he thinks it's good business to hire corrupt cops as his park's security guards. Not only do they come cheap, but they are easy to recruit for "side jobs" that require muscle and a lack of conscience. Kingsbury's mistake is thinking that his goons can likewise be used for side jobs that require a lack of conscience and a touch of finesse.
  • "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.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Opposition: the sad story of Clinton "Skink" Tyree's brief governorship of Florida in The '70s. After he turned down his first bribe offer, and had the offenders arrested by the FBI, every special interest in the state pooled their resources to bribe super-majorities in the legislature and the cabinet to reject, gut or simply ignore every bill he wanted passed. He eventually came apart when he realized that his crusade to clean up corruption in the state and protect it from over-development was literally "one-man". Even after leaving office and reinventing himself as a reclusive eco-warrior, he is under no illusions about his ability to change things for the better, as reflected in this melancholy exchange in Native Tongue:
    Jim Tile: I'd appreciate if you'd tell me what's going on down here.
    Skink: The usual. The bad guys are kicking our collective asses.
  • Women Are Delicate: nearly always subverted; Hiaasen's female protagonists are not muscle-bound powerhouses, but they are refreshingly unambiguous when dealing with jerks and losers
    • Squeeze Me: Angie Armstrong is a professional wildlife wrangler, and usually declines assistance, since in her experience "large men are usually terrified of snakes."
  • Women Are Wiser: Lisa June Peterson, the governor’s executive assistant in Sick Puppy, was initially hired for her looks, but her "unexpected and dazzling competency" quickly advanced her to being the governor's right hand. She is well aware that the governor, and most or all of the men who hold power in the state government, are corrupt, womanizing alcoholics, but she chooses to see the positive side:
    Rather than being dispirited by their aggregate sliminess, Lisa June Peterson found in it a cause for hope. She could run circles around these lecherous, easily-distracted clowns, and in time she would.
  • The World Is Always Doomed: In Native Tongue, Joe Winder tries to comfort a biologist who failed to preserve the "Blue-Tongued Mango Vole" species from extinction.
    Dr. Koocher: "It's all right. They were doomed, no matter what."
    Joe Winder: "We're all doomed, if you realy think about it." Which he tried not to.
  • World of Weirdness: In Skin Tight, Al Garcia, a veteran homicide detective, is not as troubled by the recent rash of deaths as by the bizarre aspect of so many of them: "It's like a nightmare of weirdness!"
    • Stranahan's ex-wife drowned in Biscayne Bay with a boat anchor (dressed in a sailor suit, no less);
    • Crooked detectives Murdock and Salazar wiping out in a boat at high speed (garroted by fishing line);
    • Garcia shooting a homicidal tree trimmer to stop him feeding Stranahan into a Wood Chipper of Doom and causing him to fall into the same wood chipper;
    • Crooked county commissioner Bobby Pepsical dropping dead of a heart attack in a confessional;
    • Strahahan's crooked lawyer brother-in-law getting beaned in the back of the head by a jai-alai ball hurtled by a client's (Nordic) jealous husband.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Hiaasen frequently excoriates the media, including his own newspaper, for feeding the public's appetite for meaningless "news", especially celebrity news. In a column for The Miami Herald, he wrote about the media's coverage of the trial and arrest of O. J. Simpson:
    The smelly stuff that was once left to the capable vultures at the Star and the Enquirer is now front-page fodder in your hometown newspaper and the lead story on the six o'clock news.
    • In Tourist Season: Sparky Harper and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce always invite travel writers on the annual "Orange Bowl Friendship Cruise" because travel writers, unlike other journalists, can always be relied upon to write exclusively about "the good stuff." For instance, when huge swathes of Miami Beach were lost to erosion, the city hastily built a new beach out of gravel, broken seashells, and coral grit.
      Sure enough, travel writers from all over America came to Miami and wrote about the wondrous new beach without ever mentioning the fact that you needed logger's boots to cross it without lacerating the veins of your feet.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Flush: when Noah's sister Abbey manages to temporarily subdue Jasper Muleman, Jr.'s cohort, he tells her to run, knowing that "Jasper, Jr. was a vicious punk who wouldn't think twice about beating up a girl half his size."
  • Would Not Hit a Girl:
    • Double Whammy: Seeing a group of college kids driving a high-powered motorboat across a manatee crossing zone pushes Skink's Berserk Button, especially when his call for them to slow down is responded to with "the magic digit"; the driver and male passengers end up with multiple bone fractures and have to swim to shore with said fractures, but the college girls get away without a scratch, which allows them to explain the incident to the Marine Patrol while the boys are still in the emergency room.
    • Sick Puppy: Seeing a quartet of college kids (two boys and two girls) attack a helpless pelican from speeding Jetskis, Twilly Spree breaks the boys' jaws, but leaves the girls alone (though he warns them in the strongest terms not to come back to Florida);
  • 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 brother's killer to justice in "Basket Case".