Squeeze Me

By Carl Hiaasen

Squeeze Me, a novel by Carl Hiaasen
Book details About the author

Murder, kidnapping, shootings, stabbings; not an amusing set of words, but in the hands of a great author, crime can be funny. In fact, crime can be hilarious. The crime comedy when done well is one of my favourite genres and Carl Hiaasen has being doing it well for years. He has combined wit and violence to satirise America for decades, but how do you satire modern America? A country that has pretty much become the joke that Hiaasen has written about for years. You go for the Big Guns and satire those that do not get the joke.

The current president is obnoxious, obese, and obsessed with himself. He enjoys visiting his Palm Beach retreat for fundraising events as the locals are rich and love him. One set are known as the Potussies, a group of rich older ladies that will do anything to get the President’s attention. Kiki Pew has succeeded, by disappearing. One minute at a charity event, the next all that was left was half an ecstasy tablet, her purse, and an unsightly bulge inside a python. A cover up ensues that will end in murder, innocents incarcerated and a chance for the President to blame his usual enemy, minorities.

Hiaasen has always dealt in satire and popping the pompousness that some of America has. Squeeze Me is the closest to home yet as two of the main characters are a President and his Wife. Parallels can be made between the current incumbent and the characters in the book, but I always believe this reflects more on the reader. If you see 45 in this character, it may say as much about you as Hiaasen. This is a fictionalised and negative character, is that how you see the President?

Although the President and his Wife are two major characters in the book, they are not the main character. This is a classic Hiaasen creation in Angie Armstrong, an ex-Con turned wildlife wrangler. She works among the polite society of Palm Beach but only as a form of help. Her brash and devil may care attitude clashes with hoteliers and their clients. This dynamic works perfectly and gives the reader a voice they can get behind.

The story of Squeeze Me has the twists and turns that you expect from the author. Even more so than normal though is how it reflects some of the injustices and hypocritical actions within America. Angie is a great character as she is driven and compelled to investigate what happened to a butchered Python, but there is also a dark tension in the book. One character is a newly landed immigrant who finds himself in the wrong place at the right time for the President. Part of the book explores how some politicians demonise the other to create fear and support.

There are serious elements within the book, but Hiaasen never forgets to keep the book light and breezy. The criminals within these pages are incompetent and this leads to amusing moments, but also shocking ones. I enjoyed the fact that just because you are bad you are not always going to get caught. Some of the guilty do get away with it. To stop the book from being too depressing the finale does wrap things up in a way that will satisfy the majority of writers.

For an author who has been working for decades, Hiaasen still has a fresh sounding voice. If anything, his pro-environment political satire is more relevant today than it has ever been. There is a sense of injustice and anger in Hiaasen’s writing, but it is cocooned in amusing writing and breezy storylines. You can read this book as a fun crime comedy or delve deeper into how it reflects on modern America. Either way, you will be entertained, and fans will enjoy the cameo from a certain classic Hiaasen creation.

Written on 17th September 2020 by .

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