Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A book you bought secondhand
Squeeze Me, by Carl Hiaasen
It's Hiaasen, so you know you're getting Florida hijinks, environmentalism, and just deserts for the characters, good and bad. The recurring character of Skink (an extremely eccentric ex-governor turned eco-terrorist) shows up to add to the mayhem.
The characters include a president and first lady who are never identified by name, but they call his Florida club the "Winter White House" and he uses a tanning bed to achieve a unique shade of orange, so feel free to hazard a guess. There's a vein of pessimism in this book, written during the previous administration, as Skink laments the environmental damage already done to Florida, with more to come. Hiaasen's always been snarky, and this book is very funny, but it has the feel of laughing in the face of despair.
The heroine, Angie Armstrong, specializes in removal of unwanted wildlife, dead or alive. She's called to an exclusive club to remove a python, one with a lump that shows it's eaten a good-sized creature recently. When a small (and rather awful) woman is reported missing after a fundraiser for the president there, Angie puts two and two together. The club manager, trying to avoid bad publicity, hires a pair of delinquents to steal the snake's body from Angie's cold storage.
Meanwhile, an undocumented (and extremely unlucky) young man named Diego gets arrested for the missing woman's murder. The president gets his followers worked up into a frothing rage about the supposed invasion of illegal immigrants, with "No more Diegos" becoming his signature catch-phrase. Angie is doing everything in her power to prove Diego's innocence, but how can she get anyone to believe it?
The climax, of course, involves Skink, large snakes, a tanning-bed disaster, and whole lot of Florida being Florida.
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