Stormy Weather is a 1995 novel by Carl Hiaasen. It takes place in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in South Florida, including insurance scams, street fights, hunt for food and shelter, corrupt bureaucracy, ravaged environment and disaster tourists.
|Publisher||Alfred A. Knopf|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Strip Tease|
|Followed by||Lucky You|
Young newlyweds Max and Bonnie Lamb, on their honeymoon at Walt Disney World in Orlando, are taken aback by news of a hurricane making landfall in South Florida. To Bonnie's surprise, Max is possessed by a fervent desire to visit the disaster scene after it has passed through. Once they arrive, Bonnie is appalled to see Max hopping through hurricane debris and gutted houses with his video camera, treating the devastation as a tourist attraction. She stalks away from him to regain her temper, and is not present when Max is snatched up by "Skink," an ex-governor of Florida now living wild on Key Largo, who attempts to teach him some manners and respect for nature.
At the same time, con artist Edie Marsh and her sometime partner, an ex-convict nicknamed "Snapper," travel to the hurricane zone to work a personal injury scam. Unfortunately for them, the house they pick belongs to mobile home salesman Tony Torres. A bit sharper than the average hurricane victim, Tony quickly sees through them and takes them hostage with a shotgun. Instead of killing them, he invites them in on his own scam: he's expecting a large settlement from his insurance company, but needs his estranged wife Neria's signature to collect. If Edie poses as the wife, Tony can cut out his real wife, and Edie gets a slice of the take. Meanwhile, after searching fruitlessly for Max, Bonnie is befriended by Augustine Herrera, an independent young man who is searching for exotic animals loosed from his deceased uncle's wildlife farm by the hurricane.
Edie and Snapper's scam falls apart when Tony is murdered by Ira Jackson, a mob enforcer whose mother was killed in one of Tony's sub-standard trailer homes during the hurricane. After parting ways, each of them discovers a new angle to work: Edie seduces Fred Dove, the insurance adjuster sent to Tony's home, and convinces him to help her pose as Neria for the insurance payoff. Snapper partners with Avila, a corrupt building inspector, to run a phony roofing company and con desperate homeowners. Snapper scores a $7,000 cash "deposit" from the wife of construction mogul Gar Whitmark. Later, during a traffic stop, he ambushes and beats Trooper Brenda Rourke, the girlfriend of Skink's best friend Jim Tile, and steals her .357 revolver. Growing bored with the roofing scam, Snapper blackmails Edie and Fred into letting him in on their insurance scam by posing as the now-deceased Tony.
Ira next targets Avila, is killed and eaten at the last second by an escaped African lion. Gar Whitmark traces the roofing scam back to Avila, and threatens to expose him unless Avila pays him back the money Snapper stole, plus the cost of replacing Gar's roof. Meanwhile, Skink hands Max over to Bonnie, who by this time has become attracted to Augustine while falling out of love with Max. When Augustine volunteers to help Skink in his new mission of tracking down Snapper, Bonnie impulsively decides to stay in Florida and go along. Max, preoccupied with a new crisis at his job, flies back to New York without her.
The three track Snapper's car to Tony's house, where they find that another of Tony's disgruntled customers, Levon Stichler, has shown up looking to get even. Snapper, thinking Levon is an insurance agent, identifies himself as Tony, only to be attacked with a metal spike in return. The two quickly realize that both have made a mistake. Fearful that the scam will be exposed, Snapper quickly concocts a plan to drive Levon south and dump him at a hotel in the Florida Keys. As he and Edie are loading Levon into a stolen Jeep Cherokee, Skink intervenes, only to be taken hostage along with Bonnie. Augustine misses the abduction, but quickly deduces what happened. By hitting the redial button on the house phone, he learns of their hotel destination in the Keys and notifies Jim.
Jim catches up to the Jeep and begins to shadow it, but loses the tail when he gets cut off by an opening drawbridge. The sudden involvement of three more unwanted people into the scam has puts Snapper on edge. He and Edie argue during the drive, causing Snapper shooting a hole in the roof of the Jeep. Snapper forces them to stop at a liquor store, making the situation even worse. However, it delays him long enough for Augustine to reach the hotel ahead of him.
Upon reaching the hotel, Snapper checks Levon into a room and hires a pair of prostitutes to keep him "entertained." Unknown to Snapper, the two women blabbed their part in the plan to Avila earlier in the day, and he has also come to the hotel to demanding Snapper fix the fallout from the roofing scam. Snapper chases Avila away, forcing him to jump off a bridge into the ocean. Augustine uses this opportunity to conceal himself inside the Jeep with the rifle. When Snapper and the rest of the hostages attempt to leave, Jim arrives and is immediately shot by Snapper. Thanks to a bulletproof vest, Jim he survives.
Convinced he's killed Jim, Snapper transfers everyone into a carjacked Cadillac. Following them in the dumped Jeep, Augustine manages to steer alongside and shoot Snapper through the window with a tranquilizer dart, rendering him unconscious. Knowing that Jim's shooting will bring the police out in full force, the party abandons the vehicles and retreats into the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Around a campfire that night, Skink enacts revenge on Snapper before knocking him out with another tranquilizer dart. Edie, Bonnie and Augustine are led back to civilization by Skink while Snapper is left to fend for himself in the wild.
(many of these characters are one-off characters, appearing only in brief vignettes, illustrating Hiaasen's overriding theme of the chaos unleashed by the Hurricane)