Political chicanery in Florida takes a hilarious turn in this comic novel.
Florida Lt. Governor Marlon Conrad, who's handsomer than a movie star, is part of a political dynasty that knows how to get the job done - that is, get elected and get rich. Marlon's father, expecting his son to enter politics, taught the boy to take graft from the rich and powerful, disdain the poor and disenfranchised, and fry criminals in the electric chair.....which is generally popular with the public.
Marlon has little interest in his job as Lt. Governor, preferring to play computer fishing games while his aides brief him on important events - using (at most) of 3 or 4 words per topic. Marlon expects to have this cushy position for a few more years, but the sudden death of the Governor makes Marlon the Republican gubernatorial candidate overnight.
Because Marlon never registered for the Selective Service - a big no no that the press will exploit - he has to join the Army Reserves. Marlon's not concerned since his high-level connections will keep him stateside and safe. Well.....things don't work out that way and the Lt. Governor is sent to Kosovo where - against all odds - he bonds with the men in his unit before most of them are killed. Marlon comes home a changed man who actually cares about people.
Marlon is now in the midst of the gubernatorial campaign and - to the horror of his aides - decides to visit the families of his dead army buddies.....in POOR PARTS of the state. Even more ominously, Marlon has STARTED READING NEWSPAPERS and dismissed his bodyguards, limos, and drivers. Instead Marlon buys an RV with an 'Orange Crush' logo on the side and embarks on a statewide campaign tour, toting his reluctant Chief of Staff Gottfried Escrow and his enthusiastic Press Secretary Jack Pimento.
Republican bigwigs desperately try to get Marlon to stick with the party strategy: execute someone in the electric chair and pander to the wealthy - especially Helmut von Zeppelin, the state's most corrupt and powerful businessman. When Marlon baulks at von Zeppelin's demands the crook gets furious and.....(I don't want to give away spoilers).
Press Secretary Pimento, on the other hand, encourages Marlon to meander around Florida and visit touristy historical and recreational sites. Pimento seems a bit odd in general, and the reader soon learns he's the maniacal serial killer Serge Storm (from previous books) - who's suffering from amnesia.
The story is filled with amusing characters, including: Jackie - a trailer trash gal scheming to be Florida's First Lady; Gomer Tatum - a Democratic gubernatorial candidate who stuffs his face 24/7; Babs - Marlon's ventriloquist fiancé whose 'privates' talk like Howdy Doody; Joe Blow - an 'average citizen' who's driven nuts by the press; Ned Coppola - an ambitious 'filmmaker' who can only manage to sell 30-second political ads; a Brazilian revenge killer who wears a red Miami Heat jacket; Detective Murphy - who's on the trail of the killer; and more.
Some of the funniest scenes in the book are the political debates between Marlon and Gomer, which end up in a televised WWF wrestling match between the two sides (this is as good a way to choose a governor as any I guess. LOL)
The book made me laugh out loud and I enjoyed it.
Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book.
Rating: 3.5 stars