Native Tongue

Here is what Hiaasen does better than anybody I’ve read: he combines hilarity and satire with relatively thrilling crime. He’s funny, and I’m not talking wry humor or subtlety, I’m talking over-the-top, laugh-out-loud funny. The crime is relatively light and is outshone by the humor, but still contains enough “thrill” to keep it interesting from a crime standpoint. This effort was worthy, although not as good as Skinny Dip, which I read last year.

Hiaasen lives in South Florida and he clearly loves it. Any encroachment on the purity of this region gets skewered maliciously. He takes no prisoners. The brunt of his attacks this time are:

  • Tourists
  • Theme Parks (especially with animal kingdoms)
  • Golf Course Developments

Other slices of Americana also get highlighted by Hiaasen; like steroid use and phone sex operations. He just kind of pokes fun at them. I’m not sure what his agenda is, but it’s funny as hell.

In this book, an ex-newspaperman named Joe Winder is now the public relations man for the Amazon Kingdom of Thrills in North Key Largo, which happens to be owned by a ex-mobster in the witness protection program. Everything is clipping along fine, until the ex-mobster decides he wants to expand his holdings by wiping out a huge chunk of natural Florida habitat, next to the Kingdom of Thrills, for a golf course community. This just happens to be the same natural Florida habitat that Winder goes to a few nights a week after work to engage in some catch-and-return fishing. All hell breaks loose.

I probably won’t read Hiaasen again until 2009 because of my backlog, but I’m looking forward to the next one. Maybe I’ll read his golf book next.