Described as a Miami Vice-esque caper and a fun getaway, I gave Tourist Season by Carl Hiaason a try. I’ve never actually watched Miami Vice and other than the main characters wearing pastel blazers, I have limited knowledge about the eighties hit. I went in blindly and it was definitely an interesting experience.
Told vibrantly through an eighties lens in Miami, Florida, the story follows former reporter and current private investigator Brian Keyes as he tries to uncover a slew of murders targeting tourists during—get this— tourist season. Hiaason’s novel explores the perspectives of surrounding characters including the hapless victims, the motley crew of criminals, the avaricious council members, and the very eighties love interest. Hiaason quickly addresses the mystery of it all, and the resulting action is steeped in character motives and design.
I did find certain aspects disturbing regarding certain language used. This book is not exactly politically correct and I am not so sure how it would fly today. I kept expecting more of a satirical pulse, but it never fully develops to the extent that would excuse and explain some of the discourse and characterizations. I also cannot wrap my head around the central love story between a thirty-something man and a nineteen year old pageant queen. That being said, this book was published in 1986, so I’ll blame it on the times.
That being said, Hiaason’s writing is truly absurd and quirky and I found myself actually laughing out loud at points. The antagonists are surprisingly likable and well-drawn. The story cruises along at an engaging pace. The eighties-ness of it all adds to the spirit of the story and I enjoyed the cartoonish style of it all. Overall, Tourist Season is fine. Just, do yourself a favor don’t read in by the pool in Florida.