Bruce Fretts
January 19, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Sick Puppy, the latest comic novel from the author of ”Strip Tease,” pits a mentally ill environmentalist against a litterbug lobbyist over a shady Florida-island development deal. What starts with a simple dognapping turns unexpectedly gory, and the whippet-thin plot is padded to 341 pages with digressions about the dining habits of dung beetles, the aphrodisiac qualities of powdered rhino horns, and the twisted sexual histories of various characters. But when Hiaasen tosses off one of his effortlessly trenchant lines (”Whenever Bipolar Lucy surfaced, Twilly declined to do the sensible thing, which was run like a scalded gerbil”), all is forgiven.

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