Carl Hiaasen is the author of fourteen adult novels and six children’s novels – many of them bestsellers. He’s been called irreverent, original, offbeat, and a master of the comic crime novel. SQUEEZE ME, his most recent novel, came out in August 2020 and it is a superb political satire set in a post-pandemic Florida where the fictional President has a Winter White House called Casa Bellicosa.
During the height of the charity ball season, a prominent socialite, Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons, disappears during a fundraiser for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. She was a huge fan of the President and a founding member of the Potussies, a group of wealthy older women dedicated to supporting their President.
The club manager is on edge after Kiki’s disappearance and wants to quell the influx of huge pythons on the property of the posh club just as his high season is beginning. Enter Angie Armstrong, a former wildlife officer cum wildlife wrangler, independent proprietor of a business called Discreet Captures. She suspects that a large python with a bloated belly may have something to do with Kiki’s disappearance and beheads it, taking away the carcass to send it into a lab for analysis. But before she can send it off, the snake’s body is stolen from her freezer.
Never one to miss an opportunity to play to his base, the President declares that Kiki has been the victim of an illegal immigrant crossing into the United States – Diego Beltran. During the Commander’s Ball, his large fundraising event, the President whips the crowd into a fury – shouting, “No more Diegos! Come on, let me hear you send that message loud and clear: NO MORE DIEGOS!” Afterwards, the Potussies serenade him with a song they’ve penned in his honor, “Big, Unimpeachable You.”
Carl Hiaasen has a long career as a journalist and his fiction has often reflected his concern about climate change and invasive species in Florida, but he coats his commentary with a huge dusting of comedy. Hiaasen’s books seem to pick the easy targets – cultural and social commentary on the outrageous extravagances of the twenty first century – whether that be reality television, politics, or overdevelopment and its impact on our environment – it is a truth to be acknowledged that you can’t make this stuff up. But yet, Hiaasen does. Mocking cultural icons and putting an air hose to the absurd— the President has a tanning bed tester instead of a taste tester, for example – Hiaasen knows how to make us laugh, so that we won’t cry.
SQUEEZE ME is a gut-buster, though if at times it feels a little too close to the truth, just keep reminding yourself that it’s only fiction and enjoy the ride.
I recommend SQUEEZE ME for fans of Christopher Moore, Tim Dorsey, and Randy Wayne White.
This is Lin Salisbury with Superior Reviews.