The following is an excerpt from Carl Hiaasen’s “Bad Monkey,” which will be released on Tuesday. Another excerpt was published in Sunday’s Tropical Life, and a third will be published Wednesday. You can read them all at MiamiHerald.com.
The phone kept ringing but Yancy didn’t answer it. He was drinking rum, sitting in a plastic lawn chair. From next door came the offensive buzz of wood saws and the metallic pops of a nail gun. The absentee owner of the property was erecting an enormous spec house that had no spiritual place on Big Pine Key, and furthermore interfered with Yancy’s modest view of the sunset. It was Yancy’s fantasy to burn the place down as soon as the roof framing was finished.
He heard a car stop in his driveway but he didn’t rise from the chair. His visitor was a fellow detective, Rogelio Burton.
“Why don’t you pick up your phone?” Burton said.
“You believe that monstrosity? It’s like a goddamn mausoleum.”
Burton sat down beside him. “Sonny wants you to take a road trip.”
“I’ll pass.” Yancy glared at the construction site across the fence. “The house is forty-four feet high—I measured it myself. The county code’s only thirty-five.”
“It’s the Keys, man. The code is for suckers.”
“Deer used to come around all the time and feed on the twigs.”
Yancy offered his friend a drink. Burton declined.
He said, “Andrew, it’s not like you’ve got a choice. Do what Sonny wants.”
“But I’m suspended, remember?”
“Yeah, with pay. Is that Barbancourt?”
“My last bottle. Tell him anywhere but Miami, Rog.”
“You want me to ask if you can go to Cancún instead?” Burton sighed. “Look, it’s a day trip, up and back.”
“They always screw me on the mileage.”
Burton knew this wasn’t true. Yancy had issues with the Miami Police Department, from which he’d been fired in a previous era of his life.
“Chill out. You’re just going to the ME’s office.”
“The morgue? Nice.”
“Come out to the car,” said Burton.
Yancy set down his drink. “This ought to be special.”
The severed arm had been bubble-wrapped and packed on dry ice in a red Igloo cooler. To make it fit, the limb had been bent at the elbow.
“That’s all they found?”
“You know how it goes,” Burton said.
“John Doe or Juan Doe?”
“Rawlings says white male, mid-forties, heavyset, black hair.”
Dr. Lee Rawlings was the pathologist who served as the chief medical examiner for Monroe County. There were relatively few murders or accidental deaths in the Florida Keys, but Rawlings never complained.
He filled his free time with golf, and was rumored to have whittled his handicap down to five strokes.
Yancy knew the sheriff was sending the arm to Miami because Miami was the floating-human-body-parts capital of America. Maybe they’d luck out and fi nd a match, although Yancy thought it was unlikely.
“Traumatic amputation,” Burton said.
“Charter boat brought it in yesterday. We checked our missing persons, all three of them. Nobody fits the description.”
Yancy noticed the upraised finger on the end of the arm. “A sour farewell to the mortal realm?”
“Random rigor mortis is what Rawlings says. He took a picture anyway.”
“Of course he did.”
“Look, I’m late for my kid’s soccer game.”
“Absolutely.” Yancy put the lid on the cooler and carried it up to his porch.
Burton said, “Sure you want to leave it out here all night?”
“Who’s gonna jack an arm?”
“It’s evidence, man. I’m just sayin’.”
“Okay, fine.” The island was plagued by opportunistic raccoons.
Burton drove off and Yancy moved the cooler into the house. From a kitchen cupboard he retrieved the Barbancourt bottle and ambled to the deck and poured himself one more drink. Next door, the construction crew was gone. Yancy’s watch said five p.m. sharp.
For the first time all day he could hear seabirds in the sky.
Excerpted from “Bad Monkey” by Carl Hiaasen. Copyright © 2013 by Carl Hiaasen. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.