ScatTitle: Scat
Author: Carl Hiaasen
ISBN: 9780375834868
Pages: 371 pages
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, c2009.

“When Nick knelt to retrieve his shoe, he glanced back down the curving boardwalk just in time to see Mrs. Starch, in her straw hat and dragonfly glasses, marching alone into the smoky swamp.
He had no idea that she wouldn’t be coming out.” (36)

After a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp is cut short by a fire, hated biology teacher Mrs. Starch claims a “family emergency” and disappears from school. Friends Nick and Marta don’t buy that excuse though, especially when Nick’s video of what he thought was an endangered Florida panther turns out to be a man lurking in the woods. While the police think that their classmate delinquent Smoke is responsible for the fire, Marta and Nick question their evidence and mount their own investigation. The swamp however, is hiding more than just Mrs. Starch, as you’ll find out when you read Scat, Carl Hiaasen’s newest novel.

If you’ve read Flush and Hoot, you’ll enjoy Hiaasen’s Scat. It’s written in the same tone and voice, with an ecological mystery to unravel. I haven’t read Hoot yet, but I did read Flush about a year or two ago.

What stuck in my mind from this story was the portrayal of the main character Nick. Nick’s father is in the Iraq war, and gets sent home after sustaining a major injury. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone, but the way Nick reacts and tries to come to grips with what his father is experiencing is awe-inspiring, yet completely relatable and realistic.

The one complaint I have with the book is the split narration that occurrs, giving readers a view of events through Nick’s eyes and also through the culprit’s eyes. While I can understand why Hiassen did that, making some of the adults seem laughable in the readers eyes, it gives away the plot of the story, and prevents readers from really getting pulled into the mystery of just what is happening in that swamp.

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