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Native Tongue    by Carl Hiaasen order for
Native Tongue
by Carl Hiaasen
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (1991)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Though Native Tongue is an older book (first published in 1991), Carl Hiassen's work is never outdated. He weaves his concern for the environment into an outrageously funny and wickedly risqué plot that had me impatiently turning pages.

Joe Winder is a PR man for a shady theme park owned and run by a shady entrepeneur. When two blue-tongued voles - supposedly on the endangered species list - are stolen for nefarious reasons, Joe is supposed to write a media release that paints the park in a light sympathetic to saving the eco-system. Behind all this, the shady entrepeneur is trying to get a big development and golf course built that would destroy Joe's favorite fishing grounds. That is not to be borne ... and we are off and running.

The characters are finely crafted. Makes one wonder if they are borrowed from real life for our edification. The two burglars turned environmentalists are like little boys lost. Pedro Luz, the steroid swigging security guard, chews off his own foot! A swamp rat who, in another life, was governor of the fine state of Florida, wears a dead panther's tracking collar to bewilder the trackers. Joe's girl friend supports herself on a phone sex line - ending up writing her own scripts. Orky the whale makes an appearance, as does an amorous dolphin. People die in outlandish conditions and Joe struggles to make sure that doesn't happen to him, or to the grandma who works diligently to save her little bit of the world from being paved over.

With action on every page, suspense at every turn, and intimations of romance scattered throughout, Native Tongue is not to be missed. Have a fun few hours with an eminently readable book, and while you do, give a thought to your own neck of the woods and what's happening to it.

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