The decline of local journalism is one theme in this hilarious novel.

Carl Hiaasen can show you the dark side of life in Florida and make you laugh in the process. In Lucky You, published in 1997, he proves the point again and again. The novel shines a light on religious nuts, redneck scumbags, money-laundering gangsters, and the decline of local journalism as well as Florida’s natural wonders. You’ll be laughing all the way.

Religious scam artists and the decline of local journalism

Just for starters, here are the principal characters in this cockamamie story:

  • JoLayne Lucks is a registered nurse who prefers animals to people and has taken a job as a veterinarian’s assistant in a small town in northern Florida full of religious scam artists. She is a passionate nature-lover who has rescued 46 turtles called cooters and feeds them lettuce in a large aquarium in her home.

Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen (1997) 500 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5)

  • Tom Krome is a laid-off investigative reporter forced to take a job as a features writer on an undistinguished local newspaper in Florida. The paper is a case study in the decline of local journalism. He’s been trying for years to have divorce papers served on his actress wife, who is circling the country in low-rent road shows to avoid the issue. Meanwhile, he is carrying on an affair with the wife of a rabidly jealous local judge.
  • Bodean Gazzer, known as Bode, is a racist conspiracy nut whose rap sheet is an arm and a leg long. His companion, Chub, who claims to have only one name, is a glue-sniffing ex-con with a propensity for violence. The two have decided to form a militia called the White Rebel Brotherhood. Bode is the more inventive of the two. He has convinced Chub that foreign NATO troops are massed in the Bahamas preparing an invasion to take over ‘Merica on behalf of Negros and Jews.

There is absolutely no reason for these four people to meet. But then JoLayne’s Lotto ticket comes up a winner. And so does Bode and Chub’s. They’re due to share a $28 million jackpot. But the two rednecks can’t stand sharing, so they resolve to rob JoLayne’s. Take it from there. Carl Hiaasen did. And we’re all the richer for it.

Incidentally, Carl Hiaasen may have a ringside seat to the decline of local journalism, but you’ll look in vain for any signs in his writing to the decline of American humor.

For additional reading

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