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First edition cover
|Publisher||Alfred A. Knopf|
|13 Sep 2005|
|Media type||Print (book)|
Flush is a young adult novel by Carl Hiaasen first published in 2005, and set in Hiaasen's native Florida. It is his second young adult novel, after Hoot. The plot is similar to that of Hoot but it doesn't have the same cast and is not a continuation/sequel. The plot centers around Noah Underwood, a teenage boy whose father enlists his help to catch a repeat environmental offender in the act.
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In the first chapter, teenage protagonist Noah Underwood is visiting his incarcerated father on Father's Day. Noah's dad is a vigilante environmentalist who is currently imprisoned for sinking the Coral Queen, a casino boat owned by local "entrepreneur" Dusty Muleman. His grudge against Muleman and his party boat stem from his suspicion that Muleman dumps raw sewage from the ship into the water rather than taking it to a waste treatment plant, contaminating the water and repeatedly closing Thunder Beach, which is at a public park. Noah and his sister Abbey discuss this latest stunt, and Noah reveals that his father wants his assistance in catching Muleman red-handed.
A few days later, local bully Jasper Jr. ambushes Noah and attempts to steal his bicycle, but he and his accomplices are stopped by a mysterious old man who comes to Noah's defense. The man is wearing a strange medallion that attracts Noah's attention.
Noah's initial idea is to witness the dumping firsthand and collect his own evidence. When he arrives, however, a waste tank is onshore near the boat. Noah is shocked, but he is soon spotted by Muleman's workers and forced to flee. After hiding near the tank, he discovers it is corroded beyond use and was merely a decoy. Meanwhile, the workers have finished dumping the ship's holding tank and gotten off scot-free.
The next day, Noah and Abbey see a slick of sewage in the water at Thunder Beach, giving Noah an idea. With the help of Shelly, a bartender who works on the Coral Queen, he and Abbey plan to dye the boat's sewage a bright color that will make the dumped waste visible on camera. They buy up numerous packages of fuchsia paste food coloring at a store and visit Shelly at the rundown house she shares with her boyfriend, Charles "Lice" Peeking.
After sneaking onto the boat, Noah and Abbey contacts Shelly, then goes into a women's restroom and begins flushing the dye down the toilet. He is caught when a casino patron opens the door on him and is chased off the ship by security guards. However, the plan succeeds: days later, photographic evidence shows bright purple streaks in the water near Thunder Beach.
Days later, Noah returns home to find large holes in the walls and doors of his house and large, spherical casts on his father's hands. It transpires that Muleman's fine for the Coral Queen's sewage pollution was $100,000, which his dad declares is paltry for a casino operator. Enraged by the perceived injustice of the ruling, Mr. Underwood began punching holes in the walls, injuring his hands in the process. During this conversation, police appear at the Underwoods' home, arresting Noah's dad as an arson suspect; the Coral Queen was burned to the waterline that night. However, Mrs. Underwood provides an alibi; Mr. Underwood was in the emergency room just before the arson occurred, and his hands have been in their cumbersome casts ever since. She produces ER paperwork corroborating the alibi and absolves Mr. Underwood of suspicion. In truth, Muleman's teenage son and his friend torched the ship accidentally while smoking in a storage compartment stocked with fireworks.
Later, while the Underwoods are out on their boat, the mysterious old man reappears and is revealed to be Noah's grandfather, who has traveled the world as an adventurer before returning to Florida. He gives Noah the medallion, and together they see the "green flash," a common feature of Florida legend, on the horizon.