Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 265
Joe Winder is a journalism dropout employed to compose press releases for the Amazing Kingdom, a Florida theme park that aspires to greatness a la Disney World. The park is owned by a former “wise guy” whose court testimony forced him to seek refuge in the Federal Witness Protection Program. A new identity and a change of venue, however, did nothing to alter the morals of Francis X. Kingsbury. He thinks nothing of faking wildlife exhibits, destroying the fragile environment of the Florida Keys, or using lethal means to protect his nefarious schemes from public exposure. When an equally amoral environmentalist resolves to thwart Kingsbury’s grand design, life becomes quite interesting in the Amazing Kingdom—so much so that even the jaded Winder comes out of retirement as an investigative reporter to join the crusade. Winder finds himself in alliance with an ex-governor seeking absolution in the life of a hermit, law enforcement officials with a peculiar sense of justice, two of the most bumbling burglars ever to circumvent an alarm system, and an incredibly bloodthirsty senior citizen. This motley group, with the assistance of a contract killer sent by the mob to eliminate Kingsbury, put paid to those who would damage the environment and subvert the democratic process.
Carl Hiaasen has a talent for creating characters so bizarre as to excite the envy of Ross Thomas and byzantine plots which even Donald Westlake would admire. Those readers who prefer their protagonists and villains to be thoroughly outrageous and their plots to approach the sublimely ridiculous will discover an excellent diversion in NATIVE TONGUE.