Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Stingray Shuffle - Tim Dorsey

   2003; 367 pages.  New Author? : No.  Book 5 (out of 19) in the Serge A. Storms.  Genre : Humor; Crime Fiction; Florida Noir.  Overall Rating : 8½*/10.

    Briefcase, briefcase; who’s got the briefcase?  You know, the silver one with the five million dollars in it.  Well, right now Paul and Jethro have it, but their possession of it is rather tenuous, since Serge A. Storms, our psychopathically-crazy protagonist, can track them via GPS.   Also, there’s the Russian mafia and the Mierda cartel.  They too are after the money, and what they lack in competency, they make up for in perseverance.

    But Fate has a fickle sense of humor, and who knows who’s going to end up with the cash?  Plus, silver metallic suitcases are rather common and it’s easy for them to get mixed up in the confusion.

What’s To Like...
    The Stingray Shuffle is the third book in the mini-trilogy “Suitcase saga” within the Serge A Storms series.  Curiously, it’s book 5 in the series, but story-wise it follows books 1 and 2, which are reviewed here and here.

    Tim Dorsey deftly interweaves three plotlines:  The Suitcase Chase, a book (“The Stingray Shuffle”) that jumps from obscurity to best-selling for no discernible literary reason; and an interactive role-playing whodunit game on an Amtrak train (“The Silver Stingray”) going from New York to Florida.   This may sound cluttered, but it really isn’t.

    There’s lots of action, the pacing is brisk, and Dorsey’s wit is laugh out loud funny.  The characters aren’t deep, but they are all fascinatingly unique.  The book is for mature audiences – there’s cussing and sex (except for Johnny Vegas, the “Accidental Virgin”), and a couple of Serge’s trademark grisly executions. 

    Everything builds to an exciting climax, and I defy you to predict what ultimately happens to the money.  Tim Dorsey gives  a backstory on pages 26-27 for those who haven’t read the earlier installments of the trilogy.  I happened to have accidentally read them in order, but The Silver Stingray can also be read as a standalone novel.

Kewlest New Word ...
Weltschmerz (n.) : a feeling of melancholy; world-weariness  (a Germanism)
Others : Propinquity (n.)

    “Your Honor, he gets on these compulsive tangents,” said the public defender.  “He has to find out every single thing there is to know about a subject, talk to as many experts as he can, see and touch everything . . .”
    “I object!” said Serge, jumping to his feet.  “He’s making it sound weird.”
    “Weirdness isn’t grounds for an objection,” said the judge.  “And that’s your own attorney.”
    “Then I respectfully withdraw.”  Serge sat back down and turned to the public defender.  “Proceed.”  (pg. 89)

    Eugene Tibbs was blue.  That was his job.
    He had always been blue.
    “He was blue back in his days on the Mississippi Delta, in those cotton fields, and he was blue in Memphis, on Union Avenue, recording for Sam Phillips at Sun Studio.  He was blue after selling his soul to the devil late one night at the crossroads.  And he was blue because he didn’t sell his soul for talent and fame but for a sandwich.  That’s what cheap liquior will do to you.  That’s what the blues does to you.  (pg. 261)

 “I discovered something new about rental cars.  (…)  The trunk is a self-draining cooler.”  (pg. 136)
    I read three books in this series back in 2010.  I thought the first one was so-so, mostly because I had trouble accepting Serge and his gruesome-yet-inventive ways of offing people.   Once I got over that, I ate up the next two books.

    I don’t know why it’s taken me 5 years to read another book in the series.  Most likely, it’s a case of “so many books, so little time”.  In any event, I’m glad I did, and although I read the mass-market paperback version, it should be noted that my local digital library offers the whole series as both audiobooks, which I don’t do, and e-books, which I do.

    8½ Stars.  Highly recommended if you’re looking for a light, quick-moving, low-brow read, and like authors who aren’t afraid to put the “hot” back into “psychotic”.

No comments: