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 Hoot but it doesn't have the same cast and is not a continuation/sequel.
The narrator is 14-year-old Noah Underwood, born and raised in the Florida Keys. Noah's father, Paine, a passionate environmentalist, has been arrested for sinking the Coral Queen, a casino boat operated by "Dusty" Muleman, who Paine believes has been illegally dumping sewage from the boat's holding tank into the ocean at night. However, Noah and his younger sister Abbey see that the Coral Queen will be repaired and back in business by the end of the week. While Paine is publicizing his actions to the media, Noah and Abbey are worried when they hear their mother, Donna, talking about filing for divorce.
Paine asks for Noah's help in getting a witness statement from Charles "Lice" Peeking, a former mate on the Coral Queen. Lice is noncommittal, but later disappears and his girlfriend Shelly (Dusty's ex-fiancée) offers to help, believing that Dusty may have had Lice killed.
Realizing the problem is that no one has ever been able to trace the sewage spills directly to the Coral Queen, Noah, Abbey, and Shelly come up with a plan, code-named "Operation Royal Flush": Shelly, who works on the Coral Queen as a bartender, will flush food coloring down the Coral Queen’s toilets, dyeing the sewage and marking a trail in the water when it gets dumped. When Shelly points out that there is too much dye for one person to squeeze out, Noah decides to sneak on board with half the dye and flush it from a different toilet.
The plan goes off nearly perfectly, with Abbey manning a getaway boat. But just as they are escaping the marina, their engine stalls, and they are found by Dusty's security guards. One of them points a gun at the kids, but they are saved by the appearance of a strange old man. Noah and Abbey’s elation fades when their outboard motor breaks down completely, and the current carries them away from shore. They are rescued in the morning by Paine, accompanied by the old man, whom Paine introduces as their long-lost Grandpa Bobby.
Grandpa Bobby says he has been down in South America, trying to track down the thugs who tried to kill him and stole his beloved fishing boat. While drinking at a bar in Colombia, he saw a news report about Paine's arrest, and made his way back to Florida.
Thanks to the dye marking, the Coast Guard shuts down the Coral Queen immediately. When Noah and Abbey go to thank Shelly, they are surprised to find that Lice Peeking wasn’t killed or kidnapped, just scared into running away.
About a month later, Paine gives Noah bad news: Dusty settled his pollution case for a measly fine, and is re-opening the Coral Queen that night with a big party.
After the party, the Coral Queen is burned down, and Paine is immediately suspected of arson. But the investigation reveals that Dusty's delinquent son, Jasper, Jr. and his best friend Bull were responsible, deciding to try smoking some of Dusty's prized Cuban cigars, and idiotically doing so in the hold near several boxes of fireworks. Even worse for Dusty, investigators find evidence in the wreckage that Dusty has been skimming from the gambling boat's profits. Furious, Dusty’s partners sue him for embezzlement while he is also audited by the IRS.
With his legal record cleared, Paine gets back his license as a fishing guide, and the whole family goes out for a celebratory cruise. While watching the sunset from the water, they are amazed to see the legendary green flash, which Noah and Abbey have heard about, but never seen before.