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Squeeze Me

by Carl Hiaasen

Book list Hiassen's latest foray into South Florida offers both an absurdist view of tomorrow's headlines (it's set in "postpandemic America") and a welcome reprise of the outrageously surrealistic tropes that first established the author as the Hieronymous Bosch of crime fiction. This time, though, the unhinged bad guys include the "crude-spoken commander-in-chief" (referred to by his Secret Service moniker, Mastodon) and a gaggle of Botox-infused, martini-swilling women who call themselves the Potussies and swear "brassy loyalty" to their president. Hiaasen's plot kicks into gear when one of the Potussies, Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons disappears from the president's Palm Beach pleasure dome, Casa Bellicosa, on the same night that a giant python is found on the grounds. "Wildlife-relocation expert" Angie Armstrong is certain that Kiki is now residing in the python's midsection, but that explanation won't fly at the Casa. An alternate theory emerges, embraced by Mastodon and the Potussies: Kiki was abducted by an illegal alien. The plot gets crazier from there in a manner that we might once have seen as exaggerated for effect but that, today, sounds like a White House presser. Among the many pleasures in this rampagingly funny satire is the reappearance of one of Hiaasen's much-loved characters, the wily Skink, former Florida governor turned Everglades hermit, who joins forces with Angie and Mastodon's fed-up wife, Mockingbird, to inject a dash of hope into the Boschian landscape.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hiaasen's satire is sure to get more off-the-book-page attention than usual.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kirkus A frothy blend of murder mystery and political satire set on the wealthy island of Palm Beach, Florida, and deep inside the (unnamed) U.S. president’s private estate. When Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons, daughter “of the aerosol Pews” and a leading Palm Beach socialite, disappears on the manicured grounds of Lipid House in the middle of a fundraising gala, the last place anyone thinks to look is inside a giant Burmese python. Never mind that a gigantic specimen sporting an enormous bulge is discovered shortly afterward, sleeping off its meal in a banyan tree. Efficiently beheaded by professional critter wrangler Angie Armstrong, the dead snake, which is promptly stolen, soon turns up on the interstate, where it temporarily halts the motorcade of the first lady as she returns to Casa Bellicosa, her husband’s Florida retreat. But who would steal a headless snake? What happened to its telltale bulge? And what about poor old Kiki, who just happened to belong to the Potussies, an influential all-female group of aging fans of the president? One mystery leads to another, and delightful subplots multiply as the sprightly narrative follows the intersecting adventures of Angie, the novel’s irresistible heroine; the first lady; bumbling villains; sardonic lawmen; loathsome politicians; and, inevitably, an Everglades-dwelling, LSD–imbibing eco-avenger—who is incubating an iguana egg in his one empty eye socket. So, yes, the humor gets wild and the satire a little outlandish. But this airy novel, taking pratfalls in stride, never loses its buoyancy thanks to Hiaasen’s deftly drawn characters and zingy dialogue. This exuberant elegy for Florida's paved-over paradise performs the near miracle of making us laugh even as we despair. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus A frothy blend of murder mystery and political satire set on the wealthy island of Palm Beach, Florida, and deep inside the (unnamed) U.S. presidents private estate.When Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons, daughter of the aerosol Pews and a leading Palm Beach socialite, disappears on the manicured grounds of Lipid House in the middle of a fundraising gala, the last place anyone thinks to look is inside a giant Burmese python. Never mind that a gigantic specimen sporting an enormous bulge is discovered shortly afterward, sleeping off its meal in a banyan tree. Efficiently beheaded by professional critter wrangler Angie Armstrong, the dead snake, which is promptly stolen, soon turns up on the interstate, where it temporarily halts the motorcade of the first lady as she returns to Casa Bellicosa, her husbands Florida retreat. But who would steal a headless snake? What happened to its telltale bulge? And what about poor old Kiki, who just happened to belong to the Potussies, an influential all-female group of aging fans of the president? One mystery leads to another, and delightful subplots multiply as the sprightly narrative follows the intersecting adventures of Angie, the novels irresistible heroine; the first lady; bumbling villains; sardonic lawmen; loathsome politicians; and, inevitably, an Everglades-dwelling, LSDimbibing eco-avengerwho is incubating an iguana egg in his one empty eye socket. So, yes, the humor gets wild and the satire a little outlandish. But this airy novel, taking pratfalls in stride, never loses its buoyancy thanks to Hiaasens deftly drawn characters and zingy dialogue. This exuberant elegy for Florida's paved-over paradise performs the near miracle of making us laugh even as we despair. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.