Rather than be shipped off to boarding school, Richard Sloan’s cousin Malley runs away with a questionable acquaintance she met online. Richard shares his worry over her fate with a strange, one-eyed man he stumbles across on a Florida beach. Hiaasen’s adult readers will immediately recognize Skink, the former governor turned eco-warrior, who first appeared 25 years ago in Double Whammy. Skink commandeers Richard’s mission to find Malley and tutors his young new friend on carnivorous gators, wild pigs, driving (Richard is still a year away from a learner’s permit but no matter), and how to prepare roadkill for human consumption. What happens to Malley during her abduction is never explicitly stated, but the implication of what a criminal is doing with a handcuffed 14-year-old girl rides uneasily alongside the kookier elements of the story. Still, there is much to enjoy. Hiaasen’s concern for the environment and its most vulnerable denizens is again on full display, and Richard has a memorable epiphany when he loses his phone in Choctawhatchee Bay: “Pursuing a desperate criminal through the wilderness drastically rearranges your priorities.” Ages 12–up. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/23/2014 Release date: 09/23/2014 Genre: Children's
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