Carl Hiaasen, whether he’s targeting adults or younger readers, always manages to write interesting variations on the same basic elements:
Nick Waters has a nascent crush on his classmate, Marta Gonzalez; fears his tough biology teacher, Mrs. Starch; and steers clear of the big, scary kid in his class, Duane “Smoke” Scrod. Nick also worries about his dad, a National Guard officer deployed in
Hiaasen is one of the best writers working in crime fiction, and Scat adjusts his plotting and stylistic talents for a middle grade audience without dumbing anything down. The book misses a bit of Hiaasen’s mordant humor, mostly because Nick is your basic nice kid and not the sort of weary, damaged older protagonist typical of Hiaasen’s adult novels. But Hiaasen’s people are still what drive his tricky and imaginative plot home. In fewer than 400 pages, at least 15 characters leave indelible impressions. Marta’s underdevelopment compared to Nick makes this – like most crime novels – more likely to appeal to boys than girls, and a couple of plot coincidences strain credulity. But Scat boasts a combination of heart, smarts, style, and ideology that few authors for any age level can match.
Publisher: Random House
Pub date: January 13, 2009