Double Whammy (novel)

Double Whammy (novel)
Double Whammy  
1st edition
Author(s) Carl Hiaasen
Country United States
Language English
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date 1987
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Preceded by Tourist Season
Followed by Skin Tight

Double Whammy is a 1987 novel by Carl Hiaasen. The protagonist, a private investigator, is hired to expose a celebrity bass fisherman as a cheat and is drawn into a frame-up for murder. The book introduced the character of "Skink" (Clinton Tyree), who becomes a recurring character in Hiaasen's subsequent novels.


Explanation of the Title

The "Double Whammy" is a fishing lure, supposedly the favorite of the celebrity angler.


On an early August morning in Harney County, Florida, fanatic bass fisherman Bobby Clinch takes his bass boat out onto the lake. A few hours later, he is found floating dead in that same lake.

Private investigator R.J. Decker is hired by sugar cane tycoon Dennis Gault, another fanatic bass fisherman, to prove that celebrity fisherman Richard "Dickie" Lockhart, Gault's main rival on the fishing tournament circuit, is a cheat.

Decker, an expert photographer, used to work for a newspaper, but was fired, and served a short prison sentence, after assaulting a teenaged kid trying to steal camera equipment out of his car (his ex-wife, Catherine, playfully nicknamed him "Rage" on account of his temper).

Investigating Lockhart's hometown in Harney County, Florida, Decker looks up an old newspaper friend, a laconic reporter named Ott Pickney. Finding the local bass fishing guides too expensive, Decker takes Ott's advice and meets a reclusive hermit who lives in the woods, calling himself "Skink." While teaching Decker about fishing, he mentions seeing Bobby Clinch on the lake on the morning he died. The strange thing is, he wasn't fishing.

Attending Bobby's funeral, Decker meets Elaine "Lanie" Gault, Dennis's sister, a former fashion model who confides to Decker that she and Bobby were lovers. She tells Decker that Dennis hired Bobby to catch Lockhart first, only she believes Lockhart had Bobby killed.

When Decker mentions her suspicions to Ott, Ott is skeptical and dismissive; the coroner ruled Bobby Clinch's death an accident (the result of a crash while joyriding) and besides, a murder over fishing is too outlandish to be believed. However, when Ott interviews Bobby's widow, he also discovers clues that Bobby wasn't fishing. Tracking down the junked remains of his boat, Ott discovers signs of sabotage. Unfortunately, at that moment he is tracked down and murdered.

After finding his body, Skink and Decker are both committed to nailing the likely culprit, Dickie Lockhart. They tail Lockhart to his latest fishing tournament, on Lake Maurepas in Louisiana, but inadvertently photograph the wrong gang of cheaters, and Lockhart wins the tournament anyway.

Decker is dispirited, but Skink tells him not to worry, adding, "worse comes to worst, I'll just shoot the fucker," to Decker's alarm. Later, he returns to their hotel room and finds Lanie waiting for him. They sleep together, but after her drops her off at her hotel, he notices lights on at the lakeside. Going to investigate, he finds Dickie Lockhart floating in the weigh tank, clubbed to death.

Assuming Skink is the culprit, Decker quickly and quietly leaves Louisiana and drives back to Florida. But when he returns home, he finds the Miami police, led by Detective Al Garcia, waiting for him. Skink intercepts Decker and tells him the bad news: Decker has been framed. The whole assignment from Gault was a set-up, allowing Gault to kill his hated rival and put the blame on Decker.

Meanwhile, Lockhart's corporate sponsors, the mammoth Outdoor Christian Network, led by TV evangelist Reverend Charles "Charlie" Weeb, loses no time in announcing a Lockhart memorial fishing tournament, a publicity stunt to boost sales at "Lunker Lakes", a massive housing development built by Weeb on the very edge of the Everglades, targeted almost exclusively at bass fishing enthusiasts.

In reality, advance sales of the condominiums at Lunker Lakes have been going very slowly, and Reverend Weeb is becoming increasingly desperate, as the Outdoor Christian Network has so much money sunk into the project that its failure will mean his own financial ruin.

Critical reception

In the best tradition of John D. MacDonald, Hiaasen animates bizarre yet such detailed characters as to be not only believable, but very, very funny: a police detective/amateur herpetologist whose pet snake gets out, and whose neighbor's obnoxious toy poodle contemporaneously disappears. A well-read swamp rat who relishes roadkill, and cultivates a deep and meaningful relationship with an enormous wild bass--as a pet in the wild. A televangelist who swears like a sailor off air, fakes faith-healing on-air, and has a real thing for cheerleaders in hip-waders at night.

Couple this with detailed descriptions of gas-guzzling trucks and boats (decades before criticizing gas-guzzlers became fashionable), what poorly planned development can do to the water, flora and fauna of a perfectly good swamp and hilarious tropes on the absurd granfaloon of televised competitive fishing and televised competitive praying-- and you've got one good read.[citation needed]

Connections with Hiaasen's Other Works

  • Detective Al Garcia reappears, after his introduction in Tourist Season. A joking reference to his "victory" in the bass fishing tournament is made in the subsequent novel Skin Tight.
  • Clinton Tyree, aka "Skink," becomes a recurring character.
  • Hiaasen's novels often feature a recurring joke that radiology is a "soft" medical discipline, and those that practice it are not "real" doctors. In this novel, the pathologist who conducts a hurried autopsy on Robert Clinch's body reflects internally that sometimes he wishes he had gone into radiology "like his dumb cousin."

Allusions to Actual History, Geography, or Persons

See also

Book collection.jpg Novels portal
  • Roadkill cuisine


External links

  • Carl Hiaasen (1989). Double whammy. Warner Books. ISBN 0446352764. 

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