Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review of Hurricane Punch by Tim Dorsey (Harper, 2008)

Serge Storms, the hyperactive, under-medicated, fatal dispenser of justice and Florida trivia, is preparing for hurricane season and some recreational storm chasing in the eye of the vortex.  As usual, his stoned and/or drunk buddy Coleman is riding shotgun.  Spoiling Serge’s fun, however, is a copycat serial killer who is sending slanderous letters to the local newspaper.  They’re soon engaged in a tit-for-tat exchange of letters and bodies.  In the meantime, mild-mannered journalist, Jeff McSweeney, has the task of writing about their escapades and interviewing the victim’s families, making his a nervous, depressive wreck.  His disposition is not aided by the help of Maloney, a federal agent who’s Serge’s nemesis and thinks he’s operating in a 1940s noir-styled world and has psychiatric problems of his own.  As one hurricane after another rolls across the Florida panhandle, all kinds of mayhem unfolds, most of it caused by Serge and Coleman.

Dorsey’s Serge Storms’ novels are always a zany rollercoaster ride of cartoonish violence and madcap behaviour underlain with a dose of suspect moral philosophy – yes, Serge does terrible, imaginative things to his victims but there’s a logic and natural justice to his actions; though the ultimate price is rarely what most might consider the ‘right’ punishment.  In Hurricane Punch he interweaves five main plotlines – storm chasing during a particularly bad hurricane season, his duel with a copycat serial killer, a cop beat journalist’s slow breakdown as he covers murders, the rivalry between competing media outlets, and federal agent Maloney’s attempt to capture Serge.  The result is a fast moving tale of madness, destruction, rivalries, and parody of the news industry, that is often amusing and sometimes poignant.  As usual the story is peppered with Florida trivia and history.  The characterisation is well done, the dialogue snappy, and the plot engaging.  As with most comic crime capers realism takes a backseat for much of the time enabling Dorset to set up some great scenes and to twist the tale along.  There are a couple of odd moments with the timeline, but overall this is good fun, with some nice observational asides.

1 comment:

Anonymous-9 said...

Hi Tim! Due to your review I will order this book. Thank you!