Gischler, Victor. Suicide Squeeze.

NY: Delacorte, 2005.

This is the author’s second novel (Gun Monkeys was nominated for an Edgar) and it continues to showcase a first-rate talent for mayhem. Teddy Folger is a semi-loser in Pensacola whose prized possession is a Joe DiMaggio baseball card, signed on the set of The Seven Year Itch by Joe himself, his wife, Marilyn Monroe, and director Billy Wilder. When he got older, Teddy wrote Marilyn a fan letter, which she answered just a few days before her death; he still has that, too.

And now he wants to sell the lot in order to bail himself out of his financial troubles, escape his wife, and start over.

But he’s not even really the focal character. That would be Conner Samson, failed jock, failed college student, failed small-time gambler, and occasional repo-man. Conner gets a badly-needed gig to repossess Teddy’s sailboat, then hears about the famous DiMaggio card, and begins to think it wasn’t actually destroyed in a fire, as Teddy had told the insurance company. Conner also has a thing for Tyranny Jones, an artist with sexual addiction issues, who actually likes him too much to allow him to become just another of her quickies. And then there’s Ahira Kurisaka, slightly reformed yakuza and manic collector of rare pop-culture Americana. He’s willing to pay a million dollars for that card, and he doesn’t much care who gets ripped off or eradicated in the process.

There are a number of other fascinating characters, including Fat Otis and Rocky Big, and Gischler has a gift for dialogue and oddball description. There are definite overtones of Joseph Wambaugh and Elmore Leonard. I’m tempted to describe the book as what some commercial reviewers call a “romp,” but the body count exceeds your average Bruce Willis movie. It isn’t for younger readers. Nevertheless, Gischler is very much worth your time.

Published in: on 29 May 2013 at 5:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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