He’s tall, tanned and downright imposing. He looks positively regal in the blue pinstripe Zegna suit and matching eyepatch, a far cry from the crusty trench coat and cracked glass eye lifted from a stuffed moose he’d sported yesterday. Just who could so bewitch the Skink, re-imposing a veneer of Clinton Tyree on the hermit, even just for a few days? It’s Ann DeLusia, actress. Actress, body double for the disastrously untalented rock star Cherry Pye, kidnap victim, object of desire for a six-foot-nine mutant who uses a weed whacker in place of his barracuda-truncated hand.
Ann DeLusia: yes, she speaks Spanish. A little.
She met Skink in the ‘Glades, watched him stuff a spiny sea urchin into Jackie Sebago’s tighty-whities, and now she’s gone back to her job. Covering up for Cherry Pye whenever that lovely ODs (errr, has a bout of “gastritis”) on whatever she can find in the medicine cabinet is, apparently, a full-time endeavor. When Cherry’s Suburban is carjacked by a love-struck paparazzo, it’s Ann he kidnaps (Cherry was under lock and key). Claude “Bang” Abbot soon realizes the mistake and comes up with a brilliant idea that can’t help but line his pockets – or so he hopes. In the meantime, Cherry’s entourage – the manager with an unhealthy interest in jailbait, the twin publicists with the botox-frozen faces, and the stage mother to end all stage mothers – have developed a plan they hope will put Cherry’s lagging career back on track.
Their plan doesn’t include Ann, which is fine: Ann’s plan doesn’t include them, either – as the entourage, the bodyguards and the kidnapper backstab and double-cross their way toward daylight, Ann brings into play two weapons: Skink and a brain. If it comes down to a battle of wits with Cherry’s entourage, Ann is by far the better-armed.
Carl Hiaasen’s most vivid character, the Skink, returns. A self-appointed protector of Florida’s vanishing wild places, the erstwhile governor is as retiring – and as vindictive toward developers – as ever. Star Island, however, finds the wily Skink lured from his usual haunts in the depths of the mangroves by Ann DeLusia’s dancing eyes and sparkling wit (and maybe her long legs). Not only does the big man don a suit (and shoes), he also risks his sanity by entering “civilized” Miami Beach. The things we do for… infatuation?
Unlike Hiaasen’s usual anti-growth riff, however, Star Island finds hero and heroine up against a different sort of idiot in a different scene. The villains aren’t rapacious land developers: they’re narcissistic and petulant celebrities in their hermetically sealed world of self-absorption. Hiaasen skewers talentless rock stars and equally inept actors as deftly as he ever trashed a golf-course magnate with a contract to scrape off 600 acres of marshes. Unless you’ve read biographies of the Rolling Stones or some of the other hardest of the rockers, you’ll be agog at some of the celebs’ over-the-top antics. If you’ve read them, Cherry Pye’s chemical and sexual frolicking might actually seem rather tame.
Though diehard fans of the Skink’s environmental ethics might come up a little disappointed, they should remember that the economy has slowed development. Perhaps the rest will do the old boy good – a few days spent with a beautiful woman and a custom-tailored suit certainly doesn’t do him much harm.