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Flush    by Carl Hiaasen order for
by Carl Hiaasen
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Even though his actions are somewhat justifiable, Noah Underwood's dad, Paine, has an anger control problem. He's in jail after sinking Dusty Muleman's casino ship, the Coral Queen. The boat was located by the Florida Keys shoreline, even though the law says gambling should be three miles out. Muleman has been illegally dumping waste in waters which connect with a popular swimming place at Thunder Bay.

It is not the first time Paine's been incarcerated. Previous incidents involved his rescuing dogs from cruel owners, and stopping fishermen from using an illegal 'gill net'. Muleman employs a husky watchman and has a member of the Coast Guard on his payroll. His son, Jasper Jr., bullies Noah regularly. Noah's allies are his sister Abbey, 'an unreformed childhood biter', once described as 'a pit bull in diapers', and two ex-employees of Muleman's casino - Lice Peeking, a sot and boyfriend to Shelly, a bartender. Lice is willing to testify for a price. Later in the story, another ally, a stranger, appears at the best possible times. Abbey and Noah plan to flush Dusty out into the open - a plan 'so whacked', it just might work. 'Operation Royal Flush' should sink the crooked little casino once and for all. Their exploit involves many tubes of food coloring - and they flush and flush - often!

Hiaasen gives us colorful bad guys and resourceful heroes, along with his trademark environmental concerns. His numerous bestsellers include Basket Case and Skinny Dip. Hiaasen's first novel for younger readers was the Newbery Award-winning Hoot, and I recommend this second, Flush, as an engaging read.

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