Back on Sunday, February 8th, New York Times bestselling author Tim Dorsey was appearing late in the afternoon at the downtown branch of the Orlando Library. I really wanted to go, but I already had a previous engagement that prevented my attendance.
I first met Mr. Dorsey almost a decade ago in February of 2006 at an Orlando Writers Conference in Maitland, FL where he was the keynote speaker and subsequently reviewed one of his books that I bought during that meeting. This is the book review I wrote in April of that year.
This past February I attended my first Orlando Writers Conference up in Maitland where the featured keynote speaker was Tim Dorsey, a former newspaper reporter and editor who has written eight novels featuring his principle protagonist, Serge Storms, a light-hearted but obsessive serial killer who limits his murders to the same kinds of bad guys we’d all like to “off” once in while. Mr. Dorsey was so funny during his speech that I had to see if his writing was comparable, so I purchased “Triggerfish Twist” from him that evening. Due to having a stack of books in waiting, I did not get to start reading this one until last week.
In “Triggerfish Twist” mild-mannered Jim Davenport, a corporate efficiency consultant, is moved with his wife and children by his company from the Midwest to beautiful, balmy Tampa, Florida and a house on a typical residential grid street named Triggerfish Lane.
I thought my neighborhood was weird, but this one has it beat all to pieces. There’s the redneck little league coach across the street who has some real control issues and a rabid pit bull; the house full of college students who do nothing but stay drunk and/or high; Rastafarians who don’t smoke dope; pizza deliverymen who race through the neighborhood; four spunky old ladies known as the E-Team (all their first names begin with the letter “E”); an old man who pretends to be the rich head of a large corporation that likes to take test-drives in Rolls-Royces and Ferraris; a speed-snorting landlord who took an infomercial real-estate course and is intent on running any normal homeowners out of the neighborhood by filling his rental houses with the strangest people he can find; and of course, the newest tenants in the neighborhood, Serge Storms and his stripper girlfriend Sharon plus Serge’s coke-addicted crony, Coleman.
Within 320 pages, Dorsey weaves a seemingly complicated tale of multiple threads int a cohesive yet wild ride of a story. Jim loses his job shortly after arriving and accidentally kills a member of the notorious McGraw Brothers Gang. Jim is cleared by the police, but not by the other brothers who are intent on revenge. Jim is also being stalked by a former bank employee who was “downsized” because of a consulting report that wasn’t written by Jim, but has his name on it nonetheless. In the meantime Serge, who has an obsessive knowledge of Florida lore and trivia, poses as a college professor for a semester (even being invited to be the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony) just for fun and systematically, but with a dash of fun and style, murders a whole host of bad people. By the time the climatic finale arrives the laughs and the body count are piled up higher than the SunTrust Center building in downtown Orlando.
I know what you’re thinking; a funny serial killer? I had my doubts too before reading but Dorsey does pull it off with a style that is part crazy, part outlandish, part unbelievable and all funny.
That being said, Dorsey’s style is like the chocolate dessert I sampled today…much too rich for constant consumption. I liked the story and found it enjoyable and entertaining, but I’ll wait a while before reading another of his books. Otherwise I think I’d make myself sick in a hurry.