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The Coral Queen had gone down stern first in twelve feet of water. Her hull had settled on the marly bottom at a slight angle with the bow aiming upward.

She was a big one, too. Even at high tide, the top two decks were above the water line. It was like a big ugly apartment building had fallen out of the sky and landed in the basin.

Abbey hopped off my handlebars and walked to the waters edge. She planted her hands on her hips and stared at the crime scene.

“Whoa,” she said. “He really did it this time.”

“Its bad,” I agreed.

The Coral Queen was one of those gambling boats where passengers line up to play blackjack and electronic poker, and to stuff their faces at the all-you-can-eat buffet. It didnt sound like a ton of fun to me, but the Coral Queen was packed to the rafters every night.

There was one major difference between Dusty Mulemans operation and the gambling cruises up in Miami: The Coral Queen didnt actually go anywhere. Thats one reason it was so popular

By Florida law, gambling boats are supposed to travel at least three miles offshore-beyond the state boundaries-before anyone is allowed to start betting. Rough weather is real bad for business, because lots of customers get seasick. As soon as they start throwing up, they quit spending money.

According to my father, Dusty Mulemans dream was to open a gambling boat that never left the calm and safety of its harbor. That way, the passengers would never get too queasy to party.

Only Indian tribes are allowed to run casino operations in Florida, so Dusty somehow persuaded a couple of rich Miccosukees from Miami to buy the marina and make it part of their reservation. Dad said the government raised a stink but later backed off, because the Indians had better lawyers.

Anyway, Dusty got his gambling boat-and he got rich.

My dad had waited until three in the morning, when the last of the crew was gone, to sneak aboard. Hed untied the ropes and started one of the engines and idled out to the mouth of the basin, where hed opened the seacocks and cut the hoses and disconnected the bilge pumps and then dived overboard.

The Coral Queen had gone down crosswise in the channel, which meant that no other vessels could get in or out of the basin. In other words, Dusty Muleman wasnt the only captain in town who wanted to strangle my dad on Fathers Day.

I locked my bike to a buttonwood tree and walked down to the charter docks, Abbey trailing behind. Two small skiffs and a Coast Guard inflatable were nosing around the Coral Queen. We could hear the men in the skiffs talking about what had to be done to float the boat. It was a major project.

“Hes lost his marbles,” Abbey muttered.

“Who-Dad? No way,” I said.

“Then why did he do it?”

“Because Dusty Muleman has been dumping his holding tank into the water,” I said.

Abbey grimaced. “Yuck. From the toilets?”

“Yep. In the middle of the night, when theres nobody around.”

“That is so gross.”

“And totally illegal,” I said. “He only does it to save money.”

According to my father, Dusty Muleman was such a pathetic cheapskate that he wouldnt pay to have the Coral Queens sewage hauled away. Instead his crew had standing orders to flush the waste into the basin, which was already murky. The tide later carried most of the filth out to open water.

“But why didnt Dad just call the Coast Guard?” my sister asked. “Wouldnt that have been the grown-up thing to do?”

“He told me he tried. He said he called everybody he could think of, but they could never catch Dusty in the act,” I said. “Dad thinks somebodys tipping him off.”

“Oh, please,” Abbey groaned.

Now she was starting to annoy me.

“When wind and the current are right, the poop from the gambling boat floats out of the basin and down the shoreline,” I said, “straight to Thunder Beach.”

Abbey made a pukey face. “Ugh. So thats why they close the park sometimes.”

“You know how many kids go swimming there? What Dustys doing can make you real sick at both ends. Hospital-sick, Dad says. So its not only disgusting, its dangerous.”

“Yeah, but-”

“I didnt say it was right, Abbey, what Dad did. Im only telling you why.”

My father hadnt even tried to get away. After swimming back to the dock, hed sat down in a folding chair, opened a can of root beer and watched the Coral Queen go down. He was still there at dawn, sleeping, when the police arrived.

“So, what now?” Abbey asked.

A dark bluish slick surrounded the boat, and the men in the Coast Guard inflatable were laying out yellow floating bumpers, to keep the oil and grease from spreading. By sinking the Coral Queen, my father himself had managed to make quite a mess.

I said, “Dad asked me to help him.”

Abbey made a face. “Help him what-break out of jail?”

“Get serious.”

“Then what, Noah? Tell me.”

I knew she wasnt going to like it. “He wants me to help him nail Dusty Muleman,” I said.

A long silence followed, so I figured Abbey was thinking up something snarky to say. But it turned out that she wasnt.

“I didnt give Dad an answer yet,” I said.

“I already know your answer,” said my sister.

“His hearts in the right place, Abbey. It really is.”

“Its not his heart Im worried about, its his brain,” she said. “Youd better be careful, Noah.”

“Are you going to tell Mom?”

“I havent decided.” She gave me a sideways look that told me she probably wouldnt.

Like I said, my sisters all right.

From the Hardcover edition.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

alyssaarch, January 6, 2012 (view all comments by alyssaarch)
Before this book, I hadn't read anything by Carl Hiaasen, though I have heard a lot about him because of Hoot's success. Without even reading the summary, I knew that this novel would probably take on some sort of environmental issue, but I didn't expect it to be so good. This is a book I would have loved as a kid, and is still a good read as an adult. It has a lot of action, intrigue, and great characters.

I really liked the relationship between Noah and his little sister Abbey. Their interactions were realistic and Abbey added a humorous element to the story, which I appreciated. I also liked how Abbey is portrayed as a stronger personality than Noah, even though she's his little sister. I'm a sucker for strong female characters, and Hiaasen definitely includes them in this novel.

The story itself is awesome. To clear their father's good name, Noah and Abbey take it upon themselves to prove that the Coral Queen is dumping raw sewage into the harbor and enlist the help of a couple of others. Some plot twists were predictable, but there were a few surprises Hiaasen threw in that completely shocked me.

Overall, this book is enjoyable, full of surprises, and carries a good message. It's about kids taking matters into their own hands and helping to right wrongs. With humor and adventure, Flush is great for kids and adults alike.
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alexandrex, May 14, 2010 (view all comments by alexandrex)
This book was very good!!!!!!!! it was for my english assiment and i thought it was going to be a bad book but when i started reading it was very good.
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Product Details

Hiaasen, Carl
French, S. Terrell
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
Humorous Stories
Nature & the Natural World - Ecology
Environmental protection
General Juvenile Fiction
Children s humor
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 5
7.94x5.44x.60 in. .45 lbs.
Age Level:

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Flush Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Ember - English 9780375841859 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Compulsively readable with a cleverly conceived resolution....Fans of spy stories, action, environmental intrigue, and, well, Hiaasen, will cheer for this one."
"Synopsis" by , Noah's dad is sure that the owner of a casino boat is flushing raw sewage into the harbor. Now Noah is determined to succeed where his dad had failed, and will sink the crooked casino and prove the boat owner is dumping illegally.
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