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Dizzy World Vacation: The Stingray Shuffle, Reviewed

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The Stingray Shuffle paperbackStorms Warning:

Serge A. Storms,
Tim Dorsey’s
psychotic protagonist,
is on the loose –
and off his meds.
Serge storms
the east coast
and the criminal underworld in
The Stingray Shuffle

This is Serge’s brain. This is Serge’s brain off drugs:

“I keep slapping the side of my head to make the visions stop, but it only changes the picture, like a slide projector.
Slap!
Carjackings, exploitation of the elderly, cigarette boats running from the Coast Guard, melanoma, tar balls, deed restrictions, beefy mosquitoes that crack windshields, Colombian shoot-outs, Cuban boycotts, Mexican stand-offs, rampant-growth speculators, offshore-drilling lobbyists, cheap rum, cheaper motels, crack vials, condoms, mouse ears, William Kennedy Smith, Philip Michael Thomas, chicken wing restaurants featuring women’s breasts…

Slap!

Shark attacks in two feet of water, barracuda jumping into boats and biting people, alligators roaming backyards and eating poodles named Muffins, college boys named Bo funneling beers on the beach and trampling sand castles and making children cry, broken-down cruise ships with docks full of irritable people from Michigan in puffy orange life preservers, the lottery won by a pool of 23 office workers who quit their jobs to become down-and-out junkies, trained seals playing In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida on bicycle horns…

Slap!

There. The hallucinations have stopped. I’m in the dark, now. I’m weightless, too. That’s much better.”

Any questions?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And a Submarine. And a Range Cart…

     Serge A. Storms is outgoing, makes friends easily, and works well with others – until he has to kill them. No one understands him better than his best friend, Lenny “The Don Johnson Experience” Lippowicz. Serge is schizophrenic, hyper-active, obsessive-compulsive and manic-depressive. Lenny is laid-back, toned-down, and spaced out. Serge refuses to stick to his drug regimen. Lenny never met a drug he could refuse. Both sacrifice their mental states while cruising the The Sunshine State (and beyond) in search of an infamous suitcase in Tim Dorsey’s The Stingray Shuffle.

     An installment in a series of Serge A. Storms adventures, The Stingray Shuffle has Dorsey’s lovable psychopath in search of a silver Halliburton filled with five million in cursed cash. Swept into the action are a bungling group of B-rate Russian hoods, sleazy small-time lounge performers, unfortunate Jamaican mobsters, bullying frat punks, the aptly-named Mierda Cartel, a doorman on the run, a women’s book club with a big, juicy secret, and Johnny Vegas, The Accidental Virgin.

     Everyone, it seems, has been inspired by The Stingray Shuffle, an out-of-date paperback by out-of-date author Ralph Krunkleton. When the book gains new popularity for all the wrong reasons, Krunkleton and his novel are inadvertently thrown into the center of a tilt-a-whirl adventure of pursuit, revenge, and ill-fated attempts to get laid.

     Dorsey’s criminal gumball rally has a cinematic feel and jittery, whirling pace Quentin Tarantino would be hard-pressed to keep up with. He sets the seedy scenes with nearly tangible lurid details. Told out of sequence, this story chases its tail, catches it and runs with it from there. Along the way we’re treated to Dorsey’s signature observations on human nature. While he may not win the Nobel Prize for his social commentary, his stabs at culture, class and people in general are gratifying, and contribute to the overall feel of his work.

     Tim Dorsey’s readers get the entire pulp package: Typical of Dorsey’s books, The Stingray Shuffle features a vibrant jacket bedecked with gaudy airbrush art; dark, fibrous paper, graphic chapter markers, decorative fonts and a little something extra for the scrutinizing fan.

     Although part of a series involving Serge A. Storms, readers can feel free to jump right into The Stingray Shuffle, get in on the action, and have fun Dorsey’s colorful cast of characters. Just don’t get too attached to anyone.

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