Have you ever wondered what would happen if a petite, wealthy, elderly Republican woman were killed and eaten by a Burmese python? I hadn’t either until Carl Hiaasen put the idea in my head with his latest book, Squeeze Me.
Angela Armstrong is the wildlife wrangler hired to remove a Burmese python from a luxury event location in Palm Beach, Florida. Before she can deliver the python’s corpse to the state, it’s stolen from her apartment. At the same time, word has gotten out that wealthy Presidential supporter Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons went missing from the event location the night before the python was found. Kiki was a member of the POTUS Pussies, or POTUSSIES as they are more commonly known as. These women are huge fans of the embattled President. When ICE agents find one of Kiki’s missing conch pearls on Diego Beltrán, an undocumented Honduran immigrant, the President begins a tweet-storm. It’s up to Angie to prove the python killed Kiki so she can clear Diego’s name.
I think if I were reading this book five years ago, I would have loved it and raved about it to everyone I know. The problem is that the nimrod President in the book is clearly based on President Cheeto, which makes the fictional President’s antics less amusing and more ‘dear god, I can actually see this happening.’ Tragedy plus time equals comedy and it’s too soon for me to find this funny. Other than that, it’s an amazing book. There’s a cast of wacky characters like you expect from Hiaasen; Skink even makes a few appearances. Angie is awesome and easy to root for; she’s no saint, which makes her more compelling. The main story has wonderful twists and turns that seem completely improbable until you remember it’s Florida so anything’s possible. The side story about the First Lady and her Secret Service agent boyfriend is also engaging and I found myself hoping those two crazy kids could make it work.