In 2017, Salman Rushdie said of Donald Trump's election, while "it's very bad for America (it) is very good for the novel." Squeeze Me by bestselling author, Carl Hiassen, features a thinly disguised Donald Trump, referred to here by a secret service code name, "Mastodon", living at "Casa Bellicosa", aka Mar-a-Lago.
Carl Hiaasen, who has been called, by London's Observer newspaper, "America's Finest Satirical Novelist", now has his own genre fiction name, "Margaritaville noir".
Squeeze Me has a background of over-the-top, Floridian excess, exposing political corruption, societal inequality and environmental destruction.
Itbegins at an Irritable Bowel Syndrome fundraising gala, organised by the "Potus Pussies", a group of rich elderly women, led by Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons, who serenade the President with a song, "Big Unimpeachable You".
Kiki goes missing, during the gala evening. Later, found next to a club pond is her "beaded clutch, martini glass and a broken rose-colored tab of Ecstasy".
Light is thrown on Kiki's probable fate when Hiaasen's main character, "animal capture operative", Angie Armstrong is summoned to the club to remove a huge Burmese python, "deep into a post-meal stupor" with a tell-tale large lump in its middle section.
Hiassen has said, "As for the wild pythons, I've been following their ravenous romp through the Everglades for decades. I figure it's only a matter of time before what happens at the beginning of Squeeze Me actually happens in true life."
Squeeze Me, in normal times, would seem wildly over the top, but not in Trump's America.
Angie decapitates the python on-site, but further examination is foiled when it is stolen from her storage freezer.
In the subsequent bizarre journeys of the python's body, Kiki's body is disgorged.
Mastodon, desperate to placate the Potussies, decides that Kiki has been killed by an innocent Honduran asylum seeker, termed by him the "brown-skinned Fiend-of-the-Month".
Angie determines to find out the truth, ultimately with the help of the First Lady, known as Mockingbird, who is having an affair with bodyguard Keith Josephson, (real name, Ahmed Youssef), praised by the unwitting President for his "nice tan".
Mastodon is too busy to notice the affair, given his relationship with a stripper whom he passes off as his nutritionist. Hiassen admits satirising Trump is not easy: "The trouble is, as satire, you can't improve on the words that really come out of his mouth".
Squeeze Me, in normal times, would seem wildly over the top, but not in Trump's America. Don't expect, however, for it to be placed on bedside reading tables at Mar-a-Lago.
- Squeeze Me, by Carl Hiaasen. Sphere. $32.99.