Review

Suicide Squeeze

by Victor Gischler



People kill each other over the dumbest things. You might think
that the reason for the carnage in SUICIDE SQUEEZE, Victor
Gischler's third and latest novel, is absurd. The motivation behind
everything (well, almost everything) that takes place here is the
acquisition of...a baseball card. It's not just any baseball card,
though. It's a 1954 Joe DiMaggio card, autographed by Mr. Coffee
himself, and the actress he was married to at the time, a starlet
named Marilyn Monroe. Oh, by the way, there is a third signature on
the card, that belonging to movie director Billy Wilder. There may
have been a lot of Joltin' Joe DiMaggio cards printed, but one
having those three signatures on it is truly one of a kind. Would
people kill for a card like that? Yes. They would.

As you might expect, such a card is well beyond the reach of your
average trading card fan, the kid with the dirty t-shirt and the
dirty five-dollar bill who refuses to change either one. In SUICIDE
SQUEEZE, however, the card has attracted the attention of Ahira
Kurisaka, an unscrupulous and extremely wealthy businessman who
wants the card and is willing to pay any price, and do anything, to
get it. The owner of the prized possession is Teddy Folger, who
used the valuable card as part of an insurance scam to fly the coup
on his obligations to his ex-wife and everyone else within grabbing
distance of him. Folger claimed that the card was destroyed in a
fire, collected on his insurance policy, and got out of Dodge,
sailing on a leased yacht on which he has no intentions of making
payments. He of course still has the card and is looking to
clandestinely sell it to the highest bidder.

Enter Conner Samson, a down-on-his-luck repo man who is retained by
the rightful owner of the boat for the express purpose of getting
it back. Samson gets to Folger about the same time that Kurisaka's
representatives do, only he's a step or three behind. Samson gets
the yacht, and Kurisaka's hirelings think he also has the card.
Throw one of Samson's past due gambling debts, and a polite but
firm collector, into the mix, and you have a "suicide
squeeze."

Although Gischler is only three books into a brilliant career, he
has thoroughly mastered the ability, as demonstrated in this novel,
to present a complex plot without losing the reader in the
narrative. Gischler's characters are quirky but believable, and his
sense of humor keeps the plot afloat rather than miring it in
absurdity. One quick example is a scene wherein Samson attends a
science fiction convention. Gischler nails everything --- the
generic hotel, the merch dealers, and most importantly, the crowd
--- with just a few sentences that will leave you howling and at
the same time humbled.

Incidentally, Gischler knows his stuff as well (I have my first
Byrne X-Men issue under lock and key, too!) and as a result you
can't read SUICIDE SQUEEZE without picking up a nugget or two of
arcane knowledge along the way. Best of all, it is a fast, fun
read. You can't ask for much more than that.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Suicide Squeeze
by Victor Gischler

  • Publication Date: March 29, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • ISBN-10: 0385337256
  • ISBN-13: 9780385337250