Publication Date: January 24, 2017
In Clownfish Blues (A Serge Storms Book) by Tim Dorsey, Serge and Coleman are on the road in a Route 66 homage-type expedition. Their plan is to go town, taking temporary jobs at leisure, making sure they hit all of the high points including the bedding of a local that everyone knows happens during the commercial breaks. They soon notice a lottery manipulating scheme with everyone involved from small-town convenience store owners to the big guys. In keeping with their quest, it’s time to get in on the action. Clownfish Blues is the twenty-first book in the Serge Storms series.
Fair warning, Tim Dorsey is one of my favorite authors. His books are witty and clever in a way that everyone wishes they could be and few people really genuinely are. Clownfish Blues opens with the best scene of any of the books. First, a picture is painted of the down and dirty Florida landscape. There’s a man with a bike loaded with iguanas on strings, tying another one on while the iguanas wondered “how life had come to this.” Serge and Coleman are working the till at a big chainsupermarket trying to not sell the lottery tickets for which the hordes are clamoring. Serge, consistent with his character, is trying to talk people out of buying the tickets while Coleman, also consistent with his character, is just struggling to keep up while just not caring.
Serge Storms is a killer. He has a basket full of mental disorders for which he has been prescribed a bucket load of medications that he doesn’t always take. That he is obsessive is manifested in his quests. In Clownfish Blues the quest is to be Martin Milner in Route 66. In the first “episode,” he and Coleman try worm grunting which Serge eventually researches and executes a high-tech solution with no intention of keeping any worms he found. He sees himself as an interloper and the drug-taking Coleman as his ward of sorts. Serge is always the educator. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of Florida culture and history and he never hesitates to share his knowledge.
As per usual with Tim Dorsey’s work, we get a look at the separate story lines before they come together. We know things that Serge and crew may never know. We see the men in the black suits, we see the working of the scam. Serge gets the scent and we know, as usual, he has some semblance of the right idea but we have the fuller picture. Dorsey’s framing of his setting as it interplays with the story is just magical. You have hot and dirty Florida, the lush forests, the backwoods flavors and the repeat characters that we all love to see again. Newsman Reevis returns with a plan to make it big.
Dorsey has a skill of bringing brutality to the page, installing misdirects so that perhaps the more squeamish readers will focus on the offset of humor instead of the blood that runs through. Serge has a deep sense of arbitrary responsibility and justice making him both an epic serial killer and a really likable guy. He’s someone that makes you want to make sure your slate is clean before you meet him for coffee. He might celebrate your crime or he may decide to seek justice. In Clownfish Blues, Serge is both insightful and ingenious and his creativity is deeply engaging. There are a large number of books in the Serge Storms series; all of them can stand alone and all of them are so brilliant that readers can start where they’d like and be hooked. The journey from beginning to end is so unique that it is always a surprise. This is not an author to take the road most traveled. Dorsey’s writing style is flawless.
Clownfish Blues or any of the Serge Storms books are those you’ll want to save to consume in one delightfully indulgent sitting. Seriously, get some really good chocolate and your decadent bevies of choice and set a date with Serge. I envy those of you that are meeting him for the first time.
Read our review of Rip Tide Ultra Glide by Tim Dorsey.
Read an excerpt and buy Clownfish Blues (Serge Storms Book 21) by Tim Dorsey on