Audiobook Review: Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey

25 01 2012

Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey (Serge A. Storms, Bk. 15)

Read by Oliver Wyman

Harper Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 7 Min

Genre: Florida Thriller

Quick Thoughts:Pineapple Grenade is a classic Tim Dorsey Serge novel, which sticks true to his formula because this formula works. Serge is truly one of my favorite literary characters, and this entry, which is the 15th on the series, ranks up there with my favorites.

Grade: A

Those who follow this blog, or have read any interviews with me, or checked out my twitter feed, will know that I love Tim Dorsey’s Serge A. Storm series. If you don’t do any of those things, I should probably let you know that I love Tim Dorsey’s Serge A. Storms series. I am a fanboy defined. You should know that unless Dorsey decides to spend a novel having Serge knitting and writing sonnets about how much he loves guest bathroom towels, I will probably be giving the latest Serge novels high marks. Probably the only thing I like more than a Serge novel is a Serge audiobook read by the amazing Oliver Wyman. I have mentioned this fact before when waxing philosophical about audiobooks, but Dorsey’s novel Hurricane Punch was the one novel that I attribute with taking me from, "Oh, audiobooks are nice when I can’t read" to "OMG, I want to run away with audiobooks and have their babies." I have reviewed three novels in this series here at the ‘lobe, and did a brief write up of a fourth, Gator-A-Go-Go, in my Best of 2010 post. For those who are not familiar with this series, Serge is a lovable, yet undeniable insane Floridiaphile. His obsessive love of Florida history leads to madcap adventures throughout the state, often with his stoner best friend Coleman. Oh, I should probably add that he’s also a serial killer, who preys on the rude, abusive or greedy, and comes up with elaborate methods of dealing out death. One of my life dreams is to someday take a tour of Serge’s Florida. I have only been to Florida once, and it was only Jacksonville, so I don’t think that really counts.

South Florida has always been a hot bed of espionage, what with Castro, drug running, and the hit series Burn Notice, and now it’s time for Serge to get in on the action. With a big International Summit taking place in Miami, Serge just knows something big is going to happen, and begins to take steps to get himself noticed by the spy community. Yet, after saving a Latin American President from carjackers, he gets noticed by a CIA Field office, who are mired in a struggle against one of their greatest enemies, another CIA field office. Hence begins perhaps my favorite entry in this series since Hurricane Punch. I started listening to Pineapple Grenade while shoe shopping at Wal-Mart, and the first line ("A prosthetic leg with a Willie Nelson bumper sticker washed ashore on the beach, which meant it was Florida) made me laugh out loud, to the chagrin of those standing near me. What I love about Dorsey is that no literary rule is safe. A Serge novel is like a Monty Python movie, where the 3rd wall is no obstacle to a good joke. From Serge, under a truth serum, being asked about the plot, and hence recapping the story thus far, to a brief interaction with his story’s omniscient narrator, Serge and Dorsey do things in this novel that I have trouble seeing anyone else pull off. Yet, Dorsey isn’t just slapping together crazy scenarios to get the biggest laughs, the novel itself has a weird, but coherent overall story arch that is quite well plotted with even a few surprises thrown in. Pineapple Grenade is a classic Tim Dorsey Serge novel, which sticks true to his formula because this formula works. Serge is truly one of my favorite literary characters, and this entry, which is the 15th on the series, ranks up there with my favorites. 

What can I say about Oliver Wyman that I haven’t said already? I can go on and on about how perfectly his characterizations fit my vision for Serge and Coleman from the days I read this series in print. Yet, instead I will take on his overall narrative tone. One thing I noticed with this listen was how deliberately he slow played the rampant humor of this novel with his role as narrator. Wyman, throughout his reading of Pineapple Grenade, used long pauses and deliberate readings of the prose to counteract Serge’s manic vocalizations. While I have noticed this before with Wyman’s reading, I believe it was particularly effective in this novel. Also, during his express role as omniscient narrator, you could just hear the smirk in his voice. I know that narrators cannot like every book they read, but I find knowing that Wyman looks forward to every chance he has to channel Serge and Coleman always adds something special for me the listener. Although I have just finished listening to this audiobook a few hours ago at the time I am writing this review, I already miss Serge, Coleman and Dorsey’s crazy vision of Florida, and long for the next installment to this series.

Note: A special thanks to the wonderful people at Harper Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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3 responses

25 01 2012
Rita Burton

Your absolutely correct. and i’m only on page 5. Page 1 had me laughing out loud and i haven’t stopped. HOW does he do it? Wonderful review. Many thanks!

27 01 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I’ve never gotten into the Florida thrillers (and I still think it is super strange that this is even a genre), but you do make a convincing argument for Dorsey.

3 08 2014
Release Week Wednesday: The Curious Case(s) of Burton & Swinburne, Against the Light, KKR, PKD, and more | The AudioBookaneers

[…] Dorsey Narrated by Oliver Wyman — Series: Serge Storms, Book 15 — just reviewed by The Guilded […]

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