Monday, June 21, 2010

Florida Roadkill - Tim Dorsey

1999; 362 pages. Book #1 of Dorsey's "Serge Storms" series. Genre : Florida Crime Fiction. New Author?: No. See here. Overall Rating : 5½*/10.
Everyone would kill to get their hands on a suitcase containing five million dollars of stolen money. Everyone, that is, except the two guys that are unknowingly carrying it. The result is a wild chase down the coast of Florida, with the chasers often finding themselves the chasees. The whole thing is to die for.
What's To Like...
For those who just have to know how serial-killer Serge and stoner Coleman hooked up together and what their respective childhoods were like, this book is for you. But there are a host of supporting characters as well : spouse-offing Sharon, three bikeless bikers, a devil-worshipping singer in a heavy metal band, a Caribbean drug cartel hit team, and a half a dozen completely evil types competing for the role of UE.
There is the usual Dorsey love for Florida history and trivia; and a variety of diabolical ways to eliminate someone (including the unique "death by Levi's 501"). Not all of them are prepetrated by Serge. Dorsey also touches on things like the sad state of Healthcare, crappy retirement communities, Mark Fidrych, and methyl bromide. And he even gets serious for a moment with a moving father/son scene.
Nevertheless, there are some weaknesses. The story takes a while to get going, mostly because Dorsey is introducing you to all the characters. It also has a "to be continued" ending, which just plain sucks. Some of the deaths seem to be there just to meet some sort of body-bag quota. And one of them is going to require a major resurrection somewhere down the road.
Kewl New Words...
Trivet : a metal stand with three short feet, used under a hot dish on a table. Nacelle : the streamlined enclosure for an aircraft engine. Fronton : a jai alai court. Spansule : a medicinal capsule designed to release drugs at a steady rate over a period of hours. Guayabera : a short-sleeved, lightweight sport shirt with wide pockets and pleats down the front (wiki it).
She was maybe twenty, a student at Key West Community College, majoring in flirting her way onto expensive boats with prowler parties. She was thin, with a deep tan, sun-lightened brown hair, and a cute Georgia face. And she'd learned nothing in life is free when she'd gotten thrown overboard by an Argentinean tycoon on whose yacht she had been partying and whose knee she had been grabbing before she said, "Sorry, I have a boyfriend back at school." (pg. 14)
Two blocks east of Tampa International Airport the death metal band Crucifixion Junkies blew an electrical fuse. The bass player accidentally spilled a beaker of chicken blood into his amp during a song urging violence against pacifists. (pg. 168)
"One day it's meth, another day psilocybin; you drop acid on Sunday and Percodan on Monday," said Serge. "Then it's Thai sticks. And what about the time you boiled those flowers that were supposed to be like Aborgines' curare darts? Can't you just pick a drug and stick with it?"
Coleman said, completely serious: "I don't want to get hooked." (pg. 199)
Think globally; act criminally locally (pg 80)...
I got the impression that Dorsey was still feeling his way into this series when he wrote Florida Roadkill. Serge and Coleman compete with others for the spotlight here, even when it comes to doing drugs and orchestrating diabolical executions. The storytelling and writing seem a bit raw, although it is easy to see that the talent is there. Happily, everything is much improved by the time Dorsey wrote Hurricane Punch. This isn't a bad book by any means, but I'm glad it wasn't my introduction to this series. 5½ stars.


Julie said...

There's a flamingo on this cover but he doesn't look so good. :( You've written a great review as you usually do. :) Funny yet serious excerpts you've chosen which really gives a feel for the book.

Hamilcar Barca said...

thanks, Julie. i always like to read excerpts in other people's book reviews. for exactly the reason you list - to get a feel for the book.