Bad Monkey (novel)
|This article does not cite any sources. (January 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Publisher||Alfred A. Knopf|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Star Island|
In mid-July, a sportfisherman off the Florida Keys reels in a severed human arm. The Monroe County Sheriff, who is hyper-sensitive to any publicity threat to the Keys' tourist trade, details one of his detectives, Andrew Yancy, to transport the arm to Miami immediately and ensure that any investigation is handled by the Dade County authorities. In Miami, Yancy meets the attractive Dr. Rosa Campesino, the Assistant Dade County coroner. As he predicted, she tells him there is not enough evidence to connect the severed arm with any unsolved crimes in Dade County. Yancy's colleague advises him to drop the arm on the roadside on his way home, but Yancy rebelliously decides to keep it preserved in his home's freezer.
Yancy is currently on suspension, having assaulted the husband of his lover, Bonnie Witt, and is forced to work as a Health Inspector for the department of Hotels and Restaurants. During their last night together, before she and her husband move to Sarasota, Bonnie confesses that her real name is Plover Chase, and she is a fugitive from Oklahoma, a former high school teacher indicted for extorting sex from one of her underage students.
A woman, Eve Stripling, returns from a vacation in Europe and reports her husband, Nicholas, missing. A DNA test quickly matches the severed arm with Nicholas, who Eve says likely died in a boating accident. Yancy, however, is suspicious at Eve's lack of grief, and more suspicious when Stripling's daughter (Eve's step-daughter), Caitlin, angrily insists that Eve killed her husband for his money.
Seeking redemption with the police force, Yancy investigates further, and finds several indications of foul play: the mate from the fishing boat that found the arm is shot to death outside a bar, and his distraught girlfriend admits to Yancy that a woman matching Eve's description gave him the severed arm and paid him to fix it on the tourist's fishing line; investigating Stripling's medical supply company leads Yancy to a corrupt former surgeon who admits that Stripling was defrauding Medicare out of millions of dollars; and inside the Striplings' Florida vacation home, Yancy finds traces of blood and bone splinters in the garbage disposal. The picture seems clear: Eve killed her husband in the town house, then arranged for the arm to be found so he could be declared legally dead.
Unfortunately, Yancy's boss, the Sheriff, has no interest in pursuing the case any further, and Caitlin is delighted to abandon her suspicions as soon as Eve offers her half of Nick's life insurance. Both of them tell Yancy to abandon his investigation, but he refuses. A short time later, he is attacked in his backyard and nearly drowned by a masked man fitting the description of the mate's killer.
Rosa has been assisting Yancy with his investigation, and the two of them grow closer and eventually develop a sexual relationship. She agrees to accompany him on an undercover trip to the island of Andros, where Eve and a mysterious male companion are developing a vacation resort.
On Andros, Yancy finds an unexpected ally in Neville Stafford, a Bahamian fisherman whose property was sold against his wishes to the new resort development, after which he returned home one day to find his house demolished. Neville was so desperate to stop the development that he asked a local witch, the "Dragon Queen," to put a voodoo curse on the developer, Christopher Grunion. Neville even parted with his only companion, a badly-behaved capuchin monkey named Driggs, who now belongs to the Dragon Queen. Christopher appears to be the mysterious boyfriend of Eve Stripling, whom Yancy has tracked via his seaplane registry.
Rosa volunteers to visit the Grunions alone, posing as a wealthy American interested in buying one of the future resort homes. While waiting, Yancy converses with Neville, who mentions that he stole some personal items from Grunion's garbage to give to the Dragon Queen, including shirt sleeves that had been neatly cut off. Suddenly understanding, Yancy rushes to the Grunion house, but is held at gunpoint by Christopher Grunion - in reality, Nicholas Stripling, alive and whole (minus his left arm).
Like many Medicare fraudsters facing indictment, Nick Stripling decided he had to fake his own death to escape prosecution; unlike others, he decided to "foolproof" the deception by leaving behind actual human remains, instead of simply disappearing. So he amputated his own arm and had his wife plant it in Florida, before declaring him legally dead. Before he can shoot Yancy, he is ambushed by Neville, who stabs him in the spine with the broken shaft of a fishing rod. Fleeing the estate, Yancy and Neville run to the Dragon Queen's hut, where Stripling's hired thug took Rosa. They rescue her and Driggs, and Yancy threatens Stripling's own pilot into flying him and Rosa back to Miami.
Nick, rendered almost paraplegic by the injury to his spine, lays all the blame on Eve, who retaliates by murdering him and dumping his body at sea at night, to be devoured by sharks. Attempting to speed away from the scene, Eve herself is killed when her boat crashes on a nearby reef.
Returning home, Yancy's life is complicated by the reappearance of Bonnie Witt/Plover Chase, who left her husband and traveled back to Oklahoma to "re-connect" with her teenage lover, Cody, now an indolent 30-year-old dimwit. It took only a few days for Bonnie to grow tired of him, and pine for Yancy again. Having heard that Yancy already found another girlfriend, she decided to show her devotion to Yancy by burning down an over-sized spec home next to Yancy's that was ruining his view of the sunset. The Florida authorities offer to extradite her to Oklahoma, but she insists on staying in Florida to fight the arson charges. Yancy is secretly delighted that the spec home is gone, but he has no further interest in Bonnie. The OSBI agent sent to arrest Bonnie predicts that, before long, she will realize this and accept the extradition deal.
The Monroe County Sheriff reluctantly gives Yancy credit for solving the severed arm case, but tells him that, because of the publicity surrounding Bonnie, it will be at least another year, or two, before it will be safe to reinstate Yancy as a detective. Yancy is disappointed, but happy to be in a steady relationship with Rosa. Back on Andros, Neville reclaims his home after the Striplings' resort project collapses.
- Andrew Yancy: The protagonist, a former Miami-Dade Police detective, currently on suspension from the Monroe County Sheriff's office.
- Dr. Rosa Campesino: The Assistant Dade County coroner. Intelligent and determined, but burdened with a kinky streak that has worried some of her former lovers (one of whom broke up with her after she convinced him to have sex with her on an autopsy table in the morgue).
- Bonnie Witt: Yancy's "future former girlfriend," the wife of a prominent Key West dermatologist. Formerly Plover Chase, an Oklahoma high school teacher indicted for having a sexual affair with one of her students.
- Eve Stripling: widow of the late Nicholas Stripling, who appears to claim her husband's severed arm.
- Nicholas Stripling/Christopher Grunion: Eve's husband, and the owner of the severed arm; a Medicare fraudster now living undercover under an assumed name to avoid prosecution.
- Caitlin Stripling-Cox: Nicholas Stripling's estranged daughter, a former model and recovering drug addict. Loathes her stepmother only slightly more than her father.
- Simon Cox: Caitlin's husband, an ex-military serviceman now working in security.
- Neville Stafford: A Bahamian fisherman, whose modest beachfront home is purchased and then demolished by a neighboring resort development.
- "The Dragon Queen": A voodoo witch on the island of Andros.
- Evan Shook: A real-estate developer from New York State who has built a spec home next to Yancy's property, and is increasingly desperate to sell it.
- Dr. Gomez O'Peele: a defrocked orthopaedic surgeon, one of Nicholas Stripling's "employees" in his Medicare fraud "business."
- Charles Phinney: The tattooed youth from the boat that reeled in the severed arm; later shot to death outside a Key West bar.
- Madeline: Phinney's middle-aged girlfriend.
- John Wesley Wiedermann: an agent of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, sent to Florida to recapture Plover/Bonnie.
- Cody Parrish: Bonnie Witt's former student/lover.
- Sonny Summers: The Monroe County Sheriff; elected by default, he is indolent, easily overwhelmed, and morbidly afraid of driving away tourists or upsetting the Keys' Chamber of Commerce members.
- Rogelio Burton: another detective for the Monroe County Sheriff's office.
- Lombardo: Yancy's immediate superior as a health inspector.
- Brennan: owner of Stoney's Crab Palace, the Keys' most popular restaurant, where Yancy finds the worst health violations.
- K.J. Claspers: The Striplings' personal pilot, a retired cocaine smuggler.
- Carter "Egg" Ecclestone: a hired thug working for the Striplings on Andros.
- Driggs: Neville's sometime-companion, an incorrigible capuchin monkey, who supposedly worked as one of the monkeys on the Pirates of the Caribbean (film series)