Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen

Squeeze Me

Squeeze Me

Carl Hiaasen is back with a new adult novel that is oh-so-timely and sure to be a huge hit. Hiaasen’s decided to take on the upscale Palm Beach community in South Florida.   It’s LOL funny right from the get-go.

When I saw the title I thought maybe it would be about oranges. After all, oranges are big here in Florida. When I realized the squeezing part of the title actually alluded to the outrageous number of invading pythons mostly in the Everglades, well, gulp, that sure did put a different light on things.

Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons might have been one of the wealthiest dowagers in Palm  Beach , Florida, but she was the most  unlucky woman period on the night she disappeared on the grounds of a swanky country club during a serious fund-raising gala.  She’d taken her martini outside for a break.  And that was that. No more Kiki Pew.  Gone. Disappeared.

Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons was a huge Trump supporter and the founder of the POTUSSIES, a group of women staunchly in support of their leader. They all had deep pockets  and  no problem supporting his cause. They were often seen enjoying events at Trump’s mansion nearby. So when our fearless leader was informed that Kiki Pew had disappeared he immediately did what he does best: blamed it on the immigrant hordes.  Of course, this is not what actually happened. But you can see where this might be going.

While everyone on the grounds of the club are searching wildly for a body, a huge python  is spotted on the limb of a tree near the pond .  Call for back up. And that is how Angie Anderson entered this story. Angie is a wildlife relocation specialist and they had to get this offensive snake   off these grounds before important people saw it. Angie overheard them all chattering about a missing person. Then she looked spotted the snake lounging on a limb of a tree where she sees the unmistakeable lump inside the body . And that is how we discover where Kiki ended up. But this is just the beginning.

Everything weird seems to find its way to Florida. We do have an influx of dangerous huge Burmese pythons living in and around the Everglades these days. In fact, each year there are times hunters are sent to capture them. They are taking over the  Everglades  and eating all the birds and small wildlife and everything else. This is true.  So for Hiaasen to stick pythons into this story is brilliant. A bit creepy but, brilliant.

Everyone knows our president has a home in Palm Beach . And he does visit as often as he can. Sometimes the first lady comes along. In SQUEEZE ME Hiaasen takes us over the top and uses his wild kind of humor to bring us a novel to squeeze us a bit out of our comfort zones. And he sure had me out of mine.

This fabulous satire brings back one of Hiaasen’s most beloved characters: Skink, the former governor of Florida who’s been living in The Everglades as a hermit for years. He’s definitely my favorite. I was filled with joy when he reappeared.  And I was not disappointed.

Razor Girl

Carl Hiaasen

Thank you Carl Hiaasen for giving us so much rich entertainment in these challenging times.  And please keep bringing back Skink.

I read SQUEEZE ME on my ipad available early through Edelweiss.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

Copperfish  Books will be offering SQUEEZE ME discounted at 20% beginning tomorrow when it becomes available to the public.

The Key Lime Crime by Lucy Burdette

The Key Lime Crime

THE KEY LIME CRIME is the tenth in Lucy Burdette’s  Key West Food Critic Mystery series.  I’ve been a fan since reading AN APPETITE FOR MURDER which was the first in this series.  This is what they call a cozy mystery and it’s set entirely in one of my favorite locales: Key West, Florida.  These books are filled with great food, atmospheric pages and all the crazy-wonderful spots  you love in this amazing old city. And there are cats. And the main characters live on houseboats. How cool is that!

In this newest installment we find Hayley Snow up to her last nerve dealing with work angst and personal stress. You see, her new husband Nathan who is a police detective,  has just announced a big surprise. His mother who was not able to attend their recent wedding, is coming for a visit. Could the timing be worse? Probably not. Key West the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is exploding with snowbirds and tourists.  Plus, Haley works for Key Zest magazine and will be covering a big bash:a key lime pie baking contest that all the pastry chefs on the island are wild about. And there are a lot of them.

Key West Houseboats

Haley and Nathan live on a houseboat that they share with an elderly housemate of Hayleys. They’re in the midst of renovating their own boat but it’s far from ready.  So they set Helen, Nathan’s mom, up with Hayley’s mom and dad not far from old town.  I have long been intrigued with the houseboats of Key West and so I thoroughly enjoy this aspect of the stories.  Throw in Hayley’s housemate Miss Gloria who is somewhere in her eighties and I am all in.

The Conch Train is a great way to see the island  especially when all the holiday lights are offering such a show. It’s during one of these island tours one evening that Miss Gloria spots something awry on one of the conch cottage porches and so she returns to the cottage after the train tour with Haylee and Helen to do some sleuthing.


And low and behold while she’s sniffing out an orange tabby kitten under the house, Helen unearths a dead body dressed in a Santa costume on the porch. Let the mystery begin.

I’ve loved Key West since my first visit thirty some years ago. I love its quirkiness, it’s be-who-you-are atmosphere, and all the  food. And the cats.

Haylee begins to see her mother-in-law is a very curious woman.  Helen is all over this murder. Why?  And we find that the murdered woman is a very high profile  pastry chef who has already caused plenty of trouble surrounding this pie contest. But why would anyone want to kill her?

I started reading this novel jonesing for key lime pie. My hunger for it just kept getting crazier. But, to tell you the truth, by the end of the story I was sick to death of it. Yes, more than enough pastry shops offer amazing key lime confections. They are ubiquitous in Key West.  I remember the mile high meringue on the Blue Heaven creation.  Love Blue Heaven. Have enjoyed many a breakfast outside with the chickens pecking around my feet.

We at Copperfish were lucky enough to have Lucy Burdette

Lucy Burdette signing books at Copperfish Books (2019)

speak and sign her books last spring as she traveled back north to her summertime home. She was delightful and everyone fell in love with her. It’s then that she told us about adopting T-Bone, her orange tabby kitten. And she’s incorporated him perfectly in this new crime caper. She also mentions Evinrude who is another Key West kitty. Love it.

I loved disappearing into this novel. I was hunkered down in the Key West I know and love. Back walking the atmospheric tucked away streets, eating in my favorite restaurants, and enjoying everything the island on the rock offers. If you haven’t been to Key West you have no idea what you are missing. And did I  even mention the sunset events?

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

As I was enjoying reading the acknowledgements at the end of the book I was thrilled to see Lucy had mentioned me and Copperfish Books. How cool is that!

THE KEY LIME CRIME will be published in hard cover on Tuesday, August 11 by Crooked Lane Books.  Cathy and I will be hosting the virtual book launch at 5 o’clock on the 11th. You can sign up through eventbrite on the Copperfish website. The event is free. Just click on eventbrite above and follow the directions. We sure hope you’ll be able to join us for what is sure to be a fun time for us all. After all, we’ll be talking about Key West and asking Lucy to tell us about her writing process. And since it’s 5 o’clock, maybe we’ll have a happy hour cocktail 😽

You’ll be able to purchase copies of THE KEY LIME CRIME on Tuesday, August 11. We will be discounting them 20%. All the paperbacks will also be available. When you spend $35 the shipping fee is free. A good choice would be the new book plus at least one of the paperbacks. They are all delightful! And Lucy’s sending signed book plates to go with…. Thanks Lucy.



Death On The Menu by Lucy Burdette

Death On The Menu


Welcome to the exciting and fun world of Haylee Snow, food critic for Key Zest Magazine in breezy Key West, Florida.  If this is your first time reading the series,  settle yourself in for a treat. If you’re already a fan, get ready to enjoy DEATH ON THE MENU which is number eight in the Key West Food Critic’s Mystery Series.

I fell head over heels  years ago when I read the first of the series,  AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. You see, I’ve loved Key West for thirty years. Visited every chance I could get. When I discovered Lucy Burdette,

Lucy Burdette

I knew I had hit on something big.  Each book returns to the island with a new adventure filled with great food, atmospheric restaurants, sunset pier, Houseboat Row, Miss Gloria, the cats, and all the colorful characters I’ve come to love. Oh yeah, and  there’s always a murder.

DEATH ON THE  MENU begins with Miss Gloria and Haylee reading  over the Key West Citizen and speculating about the upcoming event of the season. Haylee will be helping her mom who is just getting her fledgling catering business off the ground. They’ve gotten a big gig and will be doing all the food for a three day affair at Harry Truman’s Little Whitehouse. There’s lots of chatter as to who will be showing up. Could even be Jimmy Buffett or President Obama. It’s going to be that big of a deal.  But when Haylee’s boyfriend Nathan who’s a detective with the Key West Police Department shows up to warn Haylee of expected trouble at the event, they start getting a premonition.

Haylee doesn’t scare off easily. Off she goes in the morning, just as planned, to help mom.  Celebrities do show up. Even Diana Nyad gives a speech, Obama says a little something, and Jimmy Buffett sings some tunes and strums his guitar and adds a lot of color. And then the trouble comes along.  Along with a murder. And the theft of  rErnest Hemingway’s Nobel prize gold medal for THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA that was stolen right from its case in the museum.

Let the crime solving begin. Lots of amazing food shows up in this novel. And Burdette very generously shares eight recipes at the back of the book. Very cool.  I am so impressed that I’ve decided to try my hand at the black bean soup later this week. It looks like the most authentic black bean soup I’ve seen and I can’t wait to try it.

I never get tired of hearing about the tucked away side streets of Key West.  Just the thought of the bakeries and restaurants make my mouth water . And the Cuban  coffee.

Haylee Snow lives on a houseboat with Miss Gloria, a very feisty octogenarian.  She might be a senior citizen but she’s no slouch. Sharp as a whistle and quick on her feet, she also loves animals. That totally endears me to her.   Evinrude and Sparky are wonderful editions to the cast of characters in that they are both cats and live on the boat. I have always been fond of the eclectic  houseboats of Key West.

Key West Houseboats

Haylee seems to have a dream job. After all, who wouldn’t want to review restaurants for a living in Key West? But you have to know there are trials and tribulations a plenty.

This is a colorful series full of “take me away from it all” scenarios. Just what we all need right now.  There are nine books in the series and one coming in a couple weeks. So you have plenty of back stock to keep you reading . DEATH ON THE  MENU  came out last spring in hardcover and is now available in mass market paperback. You can get your copy at

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

Copperfish Books. Word on the street is they have them in stock right now. But, don’t wait. These puppies disappear quickly. Oh, and before I forget, we’ll be doing a zoom event with Lucy Burdette  on August 11, the pub date for THE KEY LIME CRIME. More on that later this week!

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

The Winemaker’s Wife

Champagne, 1940: At the dawn of the Second World War, Inès is the young wife of Michel, owner of the Maison Chauveau, a picturesque champagne house nestled among rolling vineyards near Reims, France. It should be an idyllic life, but Inès–who’s often treated like a child by her husband, his chef de cave, Theo, and Theo’s wife, Céline– is increasingly unhappy. She’s determined to make a change, but then the German’s arrive.”

New York, 2019: Recently divorced Liv Kent has lost everything when her French grandmother arrives unannounced, whisking her off to Paris straightaway.  What Liv’s grandmother  is about to share with her will quickly make her question everything else in her life.

Kristin Harmel

I have long been a fan of Kristin Harmel’s writing. I quickly fell under her spell while reading THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING  some years ago. Then again with WHEN WE MEET AGAIN.  THE WINEMAKER’S WIFE is outstanding and brings yet another side of the Holocaust  more brightly to the surface.

The story begins with a short chapter set in the Champagne country of France in 1940. Then quickly moves to the present day and introduces Liz who is about to make a trip of a lifetime with her 99-year-old French grandmother. I’m in.

There are always secrets embedded in the best novels. This one is no exception. And it’s a whopper. At times I wondered if anyone was really who they thought they were.  Harmel uses the Champagne area of France to tell the story of a group of winemakers during the war that were working to help their country in ways the Germans never suspected. Even the most timid and shy of these people did monumental things to foil the enemy and mostly in plain sight.  All this in a part of the country we have not heard so much about, until now.

Harmel interviewed extensively for this novel. She spoke at length with Isabelle Pierre, the heritage manager for

Veuve Clicquot

Veuve Clicquot, Krug, and Ruinart.  Many other historians offered insight as well.  Many winemakers in the region were involved in the resistance.  They did what they could, even using dirty bottles, bad corks, and second-rate cuvées in Germany-bound shipments.

Did you know that in order to qualify as champagne, a wine must come from the Champagne growing area, less than a hundred miles from Paris in northeastern France?  My husband and I love champagne. Our very favorite is Veuve Clicquot. Ooh la la.

After reading THE WINEMAKER’S WIFE I have been wondering how many hidden stashes of wine and spirits are still buried in areas throughout the war zones of Europe. It’s a fascinating thought.  I also can’t help but wonder how many identities were switched, how many families are living lies today. It’s so much food for thought.

We, at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida, have been very lucky to have had Kristin grace our bookshop twice with her new books.  We are so pleased that Kristin will be showing off her new book, THE WINEMAKER’S WIFE, at a special wine event with us in November. I will keep you posted about time and date. And, yes there will be bubbly!

We at Copperfish Books will have copies of THE WINEMAKER’S WIFE for sale on pub date, Tuesday, August 13. They will be discounted 20%.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

My gorgeous hardcopy was furnished by the very generous publishing people at Gallery Books a division of Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Of course, I loved it! You will too. Thanks, guys.



The Ice House by Laura Lee Smith

Laura Lee Smith

The Ice House

Love the cover! Screams Florida.  Laura Lee Smith wowed us with her first novel HEART OF PALM. I fell head over heels for that one. Have been eagerly awaiting this new novel. It was worth the wait.

author of HEART OF PALM

Laura Lee Smith

THE ICE HOUSE is also set in Florida in and around the Jacksonville area. We also get to cross the pond to Scotland and that’s a big deal.

Johnny MacKinnon and his wife Pauline own an old ice-making factory in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s perched right on the edge of the seedier side of town. Across the street is a house with disreputable characters who may or may not be involved in the drug trade…

Lately, Johnny’s been struggling with his business. OSHA has slammed a claim of negligence against him because they discovered an ammonia leak that he knew nothing about.  And, the place needs a lot of work. He’s dealing with  toxic inner feelings concerning his 30-year-old son Corran who is a heroin addict. The family has spent wads of money providing rehab for Corran, over and over again, to no avail. Plus, while he was visiting them over the holidays a costly piece of jewelry went missing.. Corran is currently living in a stone cottage in Scotland raising his baby daughter alone.  His mother insists he’s clean now. Pauline and Johnny spend most of their days tip-toeing around the addiction.   Now, Johnny has been diagnosed with a cyst on his brain that just could be malignant. He’s scheduled for surgery soon. And so he decides to visit his son Corran and his ex-wife Sharon, seeking closure. In Scotland.

Everyone has some sort of stress going on in their lives. Sharon  is working a full-time job while caring partly for Corran’s baby daughter. She’s also the caregiver for husband number two who is in the beginning days of dementia. Good God, how much more can she take?

Johnny decides at the last minute to take a young man along to Scotland with him, the  neighbor’s son who is a real character and just the comic relief we need here.  Chemal will be Johnny’s driver. What a trip he is.  A delight.

In Scotland, Johnny comes to grips with his feelings about Corran.  Faces them.  But Corran is a hard nut to crack and  does not make it easy.  Johnny knows it could be his last chance to be part of his only son’s life, not to mention the baby’s.  This part of the novel is quite stunning and even harrowing. Some of the scenes will take your breath away.

HEART OF PALM, Smith’s first novel is a real favorite of mine.  The big rambling house is a character itself. But the family saga is what will grab your attention and  you will easily become a Laura Lee Smith fan.


I received a review copy of THE ICE HOUSE from Grove Press Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  We all loved it!

We will be hosting a special event with Laura Lee Smith on  Wednesday, March 7 at six o’clock in the evening at Copperfish Books.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

Please call ahead to reserve your spot.  941-205-2560. You are not going to want to miss this one. In fact, bring your friends.



Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen

Razor Girl

It may be safe to go back in the water, but,  is it safe to drive the roads in the Florida Keys and KeyWest? Not if Merry Mansfield is behind the wheel.

RAZOR GIRL, by Carl Hiaasen, is the sequel to BAD MONKEY. Carl’s brought back some of the wild characters we so enjoyed and has managed to make them even more hilarious.  Plus, I love that the story exists in the Florida Keys and Key West.

What is Merry Mansfield doing shaving her bikini area while driving  a beat up green Firebird in the first place?  Why, she’s scamming an unsuspecting tourist, of course. Somewhere near Ramrod (get it:)) Key in the Florida Keys, Lane Coolman, a talent agent, is driving his rental car from Miami to Key West,  on his way to the Parched Pirate where Buck Nance is currently set up to begin his new gig. Unbeknownst  to Coolman, he’s about to have his rear end rammed by the craziest scam artist in Florida.

Carl Hiaasen has pulled out all the punches in RAZOR GIRL.  All of them. Nothing is left in his bag of tricks.  He’s got Andrew Yancy returning from BAD MONKEY. You may remember Yancey. He’s a cop turned health inspector who is dying to get back to being a cop.  If only he hadn’t accosted a girlfriend’s husband with a Dust Buster…He lives on one of the Keys and is trying to stop his neighbor who is a product -liability lawyer ( crook)  and his fiancee  from building a sky- high vacation home on their vacant lot. Yancy has become quite fond of his view.  The bride to be is very unhappy. She’s lost her $200,000 engagement ring somewhere on the lot. Little does she know that Yancey found it with the trusty metal detector  and is holding it hostage in a container of hummus. The kicker is that the ring is a cast off from her fiancee’s first fiancee who was much fatter. Bummer. And she’s seething under the collar.

The mob up in Miami looms large over Thebeaux who has been making a killing stealing sand  from one beach  to replace lost sand from erosion on another. His very lucrative business goes by the name of  Sedimental Journeys. The mob wants in on this chunk of change. And we all know that what the mob wants, the mob gets, by hook or usually by crook.

Meanwhile, in Key West, Buck Nance must go on stage.  And who is he? He’s an accordionist from Wisconsin who’s the star of a redneck reality show.  The show is based on the Duck Dynasty phenomena  that’s been so popular the past couple of years. Buck’s group is called Bayou Brothers.   The show must go on. His appearance contains a racist rant that has him hightailing it out the door and scrambling down the nearest alley. All the time being chased by a 275-pound  African-American gay guy. You can see where this is going.

Then the conch train is  involved with a murder.  And the Muslim community is brought into  the mix. Seriously, nothing is missing here.

Brock is the lawyer who’s trying to build on his lot next to Yancey. Recently, he’s made a fortune suing Pitrolux, a company that makes a deodorant armpit gel that is supposed to boost testosterone. But it’s been found to have jarring side effects such as causing volcanic acne and goatees. Not a good thing if you’re a teenage cheer leader….

Where else on earth would someone rename themselves Captain Cock? Only Key West, my friends. Only Key West.

For those of you who have been fascinated by the whole Duck Dynasty phenomena you’ll be pleased to know that Buck Nance is one of the founders of a similar group: Bayou Brothers.

Those of you who look forward to the zaniness of Carl Hiaasen will not be disappointed.  He will bring you to your knees with the over-the-top crazies in this new novel.  He says Razor Girl is one of his favorite characters, ever. She sure is a hoot.  And many of the things that happen in this novel have actually been pulled straight off the news reports. That’s right. You can’t make this sh$%^ up. But Carl takes it to the next level  for our reading enjoyment!

You can find Carl on the pages of The Miami Herald where he makes light about almost everything in Florida. He’s never at a loss for material.

Razor Girl

Carl Hiaasen

My finished hardcover came from the generous offices of Knopf publishing. Once again, thanks, folks! Pub date September 6.


Sea Creatures By Susanna Daniel

Susanna Daniel

Sea Creatures

Susanna Daniel is back with a new novel called SEA CREATURES. She’s settled back into old Florida and has her characters visiting that fascinating water city right in the middle of Biscayne Bay, just off the coast of Miami: Stiltsville.

Her fist novel was actually titled: STILTSILLE.  It won the Pen Faukner award in 2010. I love that Daniel has actually returned to the Miami area. And that she is back on the water.

Georgia Quillian packs up her three year old toddler Frankie and her disgraced husband Graham and moves from Chicago back to her hometown in Miami, in Coral Gables.

Georgia met her husband at a facility for insomniacs.  Only his problem was much more involved than hers. She just had trouble sleeping. He had parasomnia, a disease causing him to sleepwalk when he finally would sleep which was not often. This is a real disease. And it is life-threatening; not just to the sufferer, but to anyone in their life.


Susanna Daniel

Daniel knows how to bring Miami to life. She manages to plop you down in the center of the Gables and Biscayne Bay, and keep you there until you don’t want to do anything but stay. I love old Florida. I love the architecture, the flora and fauna, and the lifestyle.  You’ll find all that right here.



This is not a light, fluffy novel. It is a serious novel with a message. More than one. You see, Frankie, the three-year-old, also has issues. He stopped speaking after being a pretty good chatterer.  And no one’s been able to figure out what’s wrong.  The doctor’s don’t see anything physical. And then Georgia comes across a new pediatrician who begins picking at the wound. until BINGO!

Georgia takes on a daytime job as a gopher for a local artist who has become a real recluse. In fact, they refer to him as “the hermit” in the story.  This guy lives in a stilt home smack dab in the middle of Biscayne Bay. Georgia agrees to make trips to the house on her boat to take him supplies several times a week.  A little extra money, and some time on the water.  She takes Frankie along.

Hurricane Andrew could have totally run this story over, however, Daniel manages to skillfully ooze the storm in toward the end. It has a powerful whop, but does not overpower the novel. It is what it is. Anyone living in South Florida has heard of or may have lived through one of the worst hurricanes in history: Andrew.  The storm is used to move the characters toward the world they needed to be in.

You’ll want to know more about Stiltsville. There is even a video of a tour. But I love this picture above that shows the city of Miami in the distance. Such a fascinating idea.  And it worked until it didn’t.

Susanna Daniel brings you a well-written story of family, parental guilt, health issues, and marriage. Another winner for her! My galley arrived from Harper Collins, and I thank them, kindly.

Bad Monkey By Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen

Bad Monkey

BAD MONKEY, is the latest hysterically funny regional novel from Carl Hiaasen. If it’s zany, it’s a Hiaasen novel. Full of off the wall characters based on some of the wild happenings we actually have in South Florida. Carl Hiaasen  writes a column for the Miami Herald, where you can find him satirizing almost everything you might find in the news.

I’ve long been a fan of Carl Hiaasen. But at some point I found some of his humor just a tad more than even I could take. BAD MONKEY has brought me back. Sure, it’s whacky, but it’s the kind of whacky I can relate to.

I love reading about the Florida Keys and Key West especially. Most of the shenanigans in BAD MONKEY take place in and around Key West. You’ll be able to recognize the streets, the eateries, and the landmarks. And the characters will be right there where they belong.

Journalist and novel writer

Carl Hiaasen

Imagine a law enforcement officer taken down a peg, a long peg, to become a restaurant inspector, aka, roach patrol. Why and how? Those of us who have worked in the restaurant industry will get a howl and a half from this. Andrew Yancey is one of the best Hiaasen characters in a long time.  And what about the arm complete with designer watch that appears at the end of a tourist’s fishing pole? Now where the heck did that come from? Mystery. Mayhem. And lots of laughs, all taken  straight from the crazy stuff that really happens in our sunny state.

Hiaasen is known for tackling environmental issues, and he keeps the faith here by having more than one corrupt real estate developer. My favorite is the agent who is erecting an offensive, enormous, spec house on Big Pine Key right in front of Yancey’s modest abode. What little glimpse he had of the sunset is all but gone now. You will laugh your head off reading about his exploits to keep prospective buyers  at bay.

There are way too many characters in this novel to mention them. In fact, probably too many. But who cares! It’s Hiaasen. He can get away with this.

Half of this craziness takes place in the Bahamas. Just adds to the nature of things. Brings even more vacation reading to the page.

This great summer read came to me from my friends at Knopf. I thank you kindly. We all need some comic relief this year. Well, folks, here it is!