It's the height of the Palm Beach charity ball season: for every disease or cause, there's a reason for the local luminaries to eat (minimally), drink (maximally), and be seen. But when a prominent high-society dowager suddenly vanishes during a swank gala, and is later found dead in a concrete grave, panic and chaos erupt
... by the evidence of the scabrous and unrelentingly hilarious Squeeze Me, the Trump era is truly Carl Hiaasen’s moment ... One unnerving aspect of Squeeze Me is that it’s set in post-pandemic Palm Beach and Trump is still president. It will be useful for any pro-Biden readers to view this not as pessimism on Hiaasen’s part but simply as some additional deeply mordant humor. Just dive in and have a wonderful time ... Hiaasen can always be relied on to give readers a likable, decent-hearted, beset young female protagonist to fight for justice, and Angie Armstrong is great fun to follow around ... Hiaasen’s narrative wanders around a bit randomly, but with all the lovingly biting detail there isn’t a page here that flags. Even the Palm Beach hi-so names are choice, like the section in Gatsby where the long list of his party guests is so funny and revealing.
... offers both an absurdist view of tomorrow’s headlines and a welcome reprise of the outrageously surrealistic tropes that first established the author as the Hieronymus Bosch of crime fiction ... 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.
Novelists, like the rest of us, can’t look away from the Trump administration. Unfortunately, they haven’t found much interesting to say about it. Carl Hiaasen’s thriller Squeeze Me is, blessedly, an exception. While the best Trump fiction has dialed up the absurdity to speculative extremes, Hiaasen is clear-eyed: He meets the president on his subterranean level ... placing our absurd president in an equally absurd setting normalizes Trump in useful ways: He becomes a product of a distinctly American environment. Hiaasen’s own fondness for vulgarity—'nut sack' appears roughly once every 100 pages, a variant of “fuck” every three—diminishes the usual gap between more highbrow novelists and the president ... funny, but as with Hiaasen’s best work, it’s grounded in genuine outrage over the corruption that increasingly defines American political and cultural life. And it turns out there’s no better place to invoke that outrage than the wealthy swamps of Florida.