Xmas presents we liked 1: Carl Hiaasen’s Flush

The front cover from the hardback edtion of Carl Hiaasen's excellent Flush
Flush, by Carl Hiaasen

Easing myself back into blogging in ’07 with some reviews of the best Xmas toys and books and stuff (maybe some of the total rubbish too – one of my most popular entries ever is this Rainbow Art slating from a couple of years ago).

Hiaasen is a slick, funny thriller writer – one of the elite of sophisticated American thriller writers who get good reviews in the broadsheets and sell by the wheelbarrow-load in supermarkets too. His kids’ books (this is his second) are brilliant. Now that it’s OK for serious writers to knock out children’s books (see Elmore Leonard’s equally great Coyote’s In The House – the Harry Potter effect, I guess) we’re going to see lots more of these crossover works from established adult auhors.

This one is a fast and funny crime thriller with a green theme (sewage, greed, the everglades) and has the usual mix of Hiaasen types: the stoical hero, the wise rogue, the venal capitalist and assorted meatheads, innocents and sidekicks. The principal characters here, though, are kids and the environmental theme is one they easily connect with. I’m reading Flush to my seven year-old girl and eight year-old boy and it’s a real pleasure to read something that’s sharp and grown-up while still within their range.

I usually stop at one chapter per night but the kids are finding it easy to push me to read another with this one. It’s also really interesting to learn that a writer can paint a very convincing, quite dark and urban canvas without the usual cast of prostitutes, drug dealers and rapists. The wild side, here, is limited to booze and tattoos and I haven’t found myself explaining any dubious practices to the kids. The best book we’ve read together since, well, probably since the last Hiaasen: Hoot (which also has a green theme – endangered owls and greedy property developers).

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