Trump lovers will hate Carl Hiaasen‘s new novel Squeeze Me and call it offensive to the President. Trump haters will laugh their asses off as they recognize the ridiculousness of it all. Hiaasen is the popular native Floridian and author of humorous crime fiction that usually features a cast of eccentric characters engaged in hapless crimes and other adventures for which Florida has become famous. Hiaasen is also a regular contributor to The Miami Herald and syndicated newspapers as well as being a committed environmentalist. His messages are subtly woven into his storylines and delivered through the actions and dialogue of his characters. His books are a wonderful read and Squeeze Me kept me chuckling the whole way through.
Hiaasen skewers the elite Palm Beach society crowd with razor-sharp humour. Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons, one of the community’s wealthy dowagers has gone missing from a charity fundraiser for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and there’s no security evidence of her having left the site. Coincidently, an enormous rogue twenty-foot python is spotted in one of the trees on the grounds with a rather large lump in its belly. Kiki Pew is a leading member of a group known affectionately as POTUS Pussies, aka Potussies, a group of influential Palm Beach society ladies with a fierce loyalty to their Republican President, known by his secret service code name, Mastadon.
Angie Armstrong is a wildlife control specialist who is called to the scene with all her gear to snare and remove the giant snake. After she deals with the creature in an appropriate manner, she takes it home in her truck until she can transport it to a government lab for a post-mortem. Before this can happen, someone steals the snake. The plot thickens just as the President and First Lady are due to arrive at Casa Bellicosa, the Winter White House. The area is crawling with secret service people and the prospect of a missing society matron during peak season is cause for extreme concern.
Squeeze Me is satire at its finest. Hiaasen always delivers a wonderful cast of eccentric characters and the thinly disguised references to the current political situation in the United States is a delightful escape from the stresses of the pandemic, both medical and political. As we get into the book, more snakes appear, along with more criminals and more bizarre insights into the President’s life at Bellicosa. We learn that the Potussies have considerable sway with everyone from local law enforcement to Mastadon’s personal security staff.
Hiaasen kept the storyline as current as possible when the book went to print. There are allusions to the pandemic and its effects. He has great fun with names and with the habits of the POTUS. When it is suggested that an illegal immigrant named Diego may have been responsible for the abduction and disappearance of Kiki Pew, POTUS supporters find a suitable scapegoat for their hatred and demand revenge on all Diego’s.
Angie Armstrong’s services are called for on a regular basis to catch and dispose of the blight of rogue pythons. A former veterinarian who once served time for feeding a poacher’s hand to an alligator while it was still attached to the poacher, she’s a colourful central character and animal activist. Once again, Hiaasen uses his characters to get his environmental messages across.
There are plenty of slick and slimy characters in addition to the snakes. Chase and Chance Cornbright are Kiki Pew’s sons from a previous marriage and somehow sound strikingly similar to Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, sons of you-know-who. They’re hot on the trail of their inheritance and hoping to cash in so they can continue their lazy, decadent lifestyles with minimal disruption.
When a fund-raiser for Psoriatic Gingivitis or some-such needy cause is held at Casa Bellicosa, the Winter White House, there’s a house band by the name of The Collaborators that plays the evening away while the metaphorical Titanic sinks. The First Lady, known by her secret service code name of Mockingbird is treated rather sympathetically and is even given a secret service lover for her trouble. Hiaasen obviously hadn’t heard about her comments concerning immigrant children in cages when the book went to print.
This pseudo-crime story is absolutely hilarious and I’d be surprised if you wouldn’t be guaranteed at least a chuckle if not a full-out laugh on every page. It’s a preposterous story, a brilliantly satirical look at the current political situation and a delicious way to pass the time while we’re socially isolating. I heard Carl Hiaasen speak at the launch of his earlier book, Razor Girl at the Toronto Public Library at Yonge and Bloor a couple of years ago, but Razor Girl doesn’t come close to this one. If you love the clever use of words, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy Squeeze Me, unless of course, you’re a Trump supporter. In which case, I suspect you’ll condemn and probably burn the book.
If you are unable to locate Squeeze Me at your local bookstore or library, you can order from Amazon by clicking on the image of the book.
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