Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Review of Mangrove Squeeze by Laurence Shames (Ballantine, 1998)
During the 1990s Laurence Shames published a series of standalone comic noir novels set in Key West, Florida. Mangrove Squeeze was the fifth. In the tradition of Carl Hiassen and Tim Dorsey, Shames sets ordinary people in the crazy underbelly of Florida, interacting with a motley crew of colourful characters as they’re caught up in a madcap escapade. So it is with Mangrove Squeeze, with Aaron and Suki taking on plutonium smuggling Russian mafia aided by two philosopher vagrants, a retired mafiosa, and Aaron’s dementia suffering inventor father. The result is a tightly told tale that rattles along at a fair clip. There’s no major surprises and it’s all a little predictable, but nonetheless it’s enjoyable jaunt, made-so, I feel, by its engaging assemble of well drawn actors and their interactions. And there are some genuinely amusing moments, especially Fred and Piney ruminating on life, the universe, and whatever else comes to mind.