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Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Few Words About Tim Dorsey

Tim Dorsey writes satirical comic novels about crime, politics, madness and drug abuse in Florida. The ostensible protagonist is Serge A. Storms, a mentally ill man who despite his heinous crimes is somehow sweet and likeable - perhaps because his victims are usually evildoers of one sort or another, perhaps because he's an enthusiastic history buff and unrepentant booster of his mixed-up home state.

I'm not normally drawn to crime novels, but last year I stumbled across Dorsey's name and novels while researching something else - I forget what. The synopses of his books sounded so crazy that I decided to buy the first five.

So far they haven't disappointed. Dorsey's sense of humour is dry and very pointed, pricking holes in the contradictions of Western society with uncanny insight and verve. Serge's misadventures are hilarious, but for a series protagonist he's off-camera much of the time as Dorsey shifts viewpoints all over the Florida map, painting a vivid picture of a diseased society that's somehow full of life despite constantly dancing at the edge of disaster.

Above all, these books are funny. At one point during the second book, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Serge and two of his accomplices attempt to order food at a drive-thru while somewhat incapacitated by drugs. Earlier in the story three different law enforcement agencies run an undercover sting at the same time, only to discover (after a narrowly-avoided gunfight) that everyone in the room is a cop of one kind or another.

I laughed until tears came to my eyes on these and several other occasions while enjoying Dorsey's books. I look forward to reading the next seven or eight in the series.

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