The head of a fictional union pension fund is one of the villains in the latest comic mystery novel by Carl Hiaasen, author of "Striptease."
In "Lucky You," published by Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York, investment manager Bernard Squires battles with veterinary assistant JoLayne Lucks, who wants to spend part of her lottery winnings on Simmons Woods, 44 acres of Florida wilderness.
Ms. Lucks wants to keep the Grange, Fla., land in its natural state, while Mr. Squires and the pension fund of Central Midwest Brotherhood of Grouters, Spacklers and Drywallers International, Chicago, want to build a strip mall.
The pension fund's retail venture never would be completed, but would allow Richard "The Icepick" Tarbone to launder more pension assets for his family's use.
"The mission of Bernard Squires was to place a large deposit on the Simmons Wood property, thereby locking it up for the union pension fund from which the Tarbone crime family regularly stole," the story goes. "After driving through Grange, Bernard Squires felt more confident than ever that the shopping mall planned for Simmons Wood could be devised to fail both plausibly and exorbitantly."
As is Mr. Hiaasen's style, selected characters suffer through bizarre situations, painful injuries and death, but in a funny way.
Mr. Squires' fate, though, is more in line with that of a corrupt business executive involved with organized crime.
The world of journalism is not spared in Mr. Hiaasen's satire: a Florida newspaper editor with moronic views on writing headlines and what constitutes a good story is dramatically changed by what he finds in Grange.