Shark Skin Suite, by Tim Dorsey
Meet Serge. Serge A. Storms. He’s a gregarious, fun-loving fellow who fancies himself an amateur expert of Florida’s history and wildlife. He’s also a barely-contained psychotic who kills people in gruesomely inventive ways when they offend his sense of right and wrong, to say nothing of public decorum.
For years, now, he and his permanently-baked travel partner, Coleman, have been riding up and down the length and breadth of the Sunshine State looking for fun and fascination, and occasionally making new friends. One such friend is legal ace Brook Campanella, who’s made the glorious mistake of falling for Serge’s homicidal charms a time or two. She’s also on the trail of a group of people who make Serge look like a toothless kitten by comparison.
And that, my friends, would be lawyers — specifically the ones representing banks eager to foreclose on the houses of the poor, the needy, and the gullible.
In fact, the more Serge learns about how the law’s been used to make these six-figure scumbags a lot of money off the backs of working people, the more Serge wants to get involved. So, putting his temporary gig as unlicensed bail bondsman on hold, he dives right into the specifics of law — mostly by watching every great courtroom movie he can get his hands on — and sallies forth to aid his maimed flame. That he did the maiming to avoid capture is something of a side issue, as is the fact that he’s getting help from a idiom-spouting PI that used to be his worst enemy.
But can even Serge survive swimming with the kind of nasty sharks that would put a geriatric homeowner out on her butt for not reading the fine, fine print? Can he keep himself together enough to actually help in the courtroom, instead of inadvertently burning it down? And as things get more convoluted and bass-ackwards while they’re also getting more dangerous — common things in the life of Serge A. Storms — will he come out ahead and free, much less survive, this Shark Skin Suite…?
After a few frankly lackluster Serge novels, Dorsey has managed to get back behind the wheel — crafting a tale of comedy, cause, and carnage that’s worthy to stand alongside his earlier works. Serge doesn’t get as many super-sneaky inventive kills in, this time, and some things may be a little too clever for their own good, but thankfully it avoids the bloat that has, up until now, been infesting the series like barnacles on a boat.
If you enjoyed the free-wheeling mayhem, coupled with a unique way of dealing with a real issue, that made Tim Dorsey’s earlier Serge novels the magnificent pieces they were, then you should reel in Shark Skin Suite as soon as it drops.
– Jim Tremlett, Eastwood