Carl Hiaasen’s novels combine pacy, absurdist plots, a wry take on political and popular culture and an underlying anger at the environmental damage being done to Florida. In Squeeze Me, he takes aim at the wealthy of Palm Beach, and in particular the ‘Winter White House’ of a president who is unnamed, but is clearly based on Trump.
A wealthy dowager from the self-described Potussies – a group of women eagerly showing their support for the president – has gone missing after wandering off from a lavish fundraiser, intoxicated. Shortly afterwards the First Lady’s motorcade is disrupted in a Burmese python-related incident.
The story is told through a largely sympathetic protagonist, wildlife wrangler Angie Armstrong (if you consider feeding the hand of a wildlife criminal to an alligator sympathetic) and two law enforcement officers who constantly find their legal duties undermined by the need to appease the president and his acolytes.
Angie is out of jail (having served her time for said feeding of hand) and is now freelance. She is called in when a terrifying Burmese python is found lurking on the island. It’s not the only one. These huge, non-native snakes are apparently widespread in Florida, having been abandoned as pets, and are well adapted to the local climate, but they are not normally found on Palm Beach.
Cue an investigation that becomes embroiled in the president’s agenda and leads to injustice for one innocent man which Angie is determined to fight. Hiaasen fans will also enjoy a cameo from one of his most iconic characters. Throw in a corrupt country club owner, a couple of inept burglars and an unfortunate incident involving the president’s tanning bed tester and you know this is vintage Hiaasen.
My only slight concern is that he portrays a post-Covid world which also has a Trump presidency. Let’s hope he’s wrong about that.
I received a copy of Squeeze Me from the publisher via Netgalley.
View Squeeze Me on Goodreads
Take a look at End of the Bay, about another darkly comic crime spree in a climate crisis.