Richard has lived in a sleepy little beach town in Florida his whole life. It’s been a good life, mostly. His father died in a freak accident a few years before, but Richard and his family — mother, stepfather, older brothers — get along OK. And then there’s Malley, Richard’s cousin and best friend. They have a ritual of walking along the beach, looking for turtle nests, and it’s something Richard looks forward to. So one night, when Malley doesn’t show up, Richard goes to the police. And when they don’t do enough, Richard decides that he — along with the former governor-turned-eco-terrorist, Skink — needs to go save her.
I really wanted to like this. And if you can get past the premise — 13-year-old Malley runs away with a guy she met in an Internet chat room — then you might just enjoy it. Skink is delightfully odd, and he and Richard go on a pretty amazing adventure. Hiassen doesn’t go as dark as I was afraid he would. But I never could get past that premise. Just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t enough for me to put the book down, but it was enough for me to be unhappy with.
Not Hiassen’s best.
Rated: Moderate for thematic content. Mild for adult readers.