Opening line: “I walked down to the beach and waited for Malley, but she didn’t show up.”
When Richard’s best friend and cousin, Malley, doesn’t show up when they plan to meet, he’s worried. She’s been known to disappear before, but for some reason, this feels different. While he’s waiting for her at the beach next to a protected sea turtle nest, he is thoroughly surprised when a scraggly old man emerges from the sand, looking like a crazed hobo. Turns out, however, that this man known now as Skink used to in fact be the governor of Florida. Now, he’s gone off the grid, fighting injustice and environmental crime on his own terms. Including hiding for sea turtle egg nappers and kicking the crap out of them. And filling the gas tanks of litterers with beer. And chasing down missing cousins just because.
Thankfully, Malley calls to check in, but each time she talks to Richard, she seems to be more and more cryptic about her whereabouts and wellbeing. And soon Richard is sure she didn’t just run away. Malley’s in danger, and Richard is ready to drop everything and find her. Luckily, there’s a crazy ex-governor with a car and a mission to right wrongs.
This is the fourth Carl Hiassen book I’ve read, and I’ve really enjoyed every one of them. My first was actually one of his adult novels, Double Whammy, which is where I first met the character Skink, and he was my favorite. I’m so glad he’s back again here for a younger audience. This one is for slightly more mature readers than his quartet of other young reader novels, but I disagree with the Grade 9 and up SLJ review. There’s a few bad words and a more mature theme (cyber predator), but I think 7th and up would be more appropriate.
Really enjoyable, really engaging, and I just love Skink.