Audiobook Review: The Riptide Ultra-Glide by Tim Dorsey

29 01 2013

The Riptide Ultra-Glide by Tim Dorsey (Serge A. Storms, Bk. 16)

Read by Oliver Wyman

Harper Audio

Length: 9 Hrs 20 Min

Genre: Florida Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The Riptide Ultra Glide is a screwball comedy on meth, told in Dorsey’s signature interlocking style. While I found the plot of The Riptide Ultra-Glide to not be as satisfying as other Serge tales, Dorsey makes up for it with a lot of other flourishes that had me laughing, cheering and considering what items I could turn into a bong (for scientific purposes.) Any time I get to spend with Serge and Coleman is time well spent, as long as I don’t end up in a burning boat.

Grade; B+

I honestly think that working for the Florida Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Bureau as a special liaison to the fans of Florida Thrillers would be an interesting job. Let’s face it, Florida as a vacation spot seems like an idyllic choice. Warm weather, sunny beaches, hot night life, Disney, Cape Canaveral and many boutique Touristy places make it a pretty easy sell to those wanting to escape the drudgery of there normal life for a little fun and magical vacation time. Yet, I am someone who has spent more time reading about Florida than actually standing on its earth. My impressions of Florida come from Carl Hiaasen, Tm Dorsey, James W. Hall and Paul Levine among others. In the literary Florida, tourist end up washing up dead on the beach with a toy alligator lodged in their throats, and that’s only if they aren’t mistaken for a drug dealer, framed for murder or scammed by telemarketers and confidence men. In literary Florida, crazy serial killers roam the highways looking for rude tourist to become contestants in one of their elaborate murderous game shows. How exactly do you sell a 4 Day 5 Night package to people who may be wary of their Cruise Line being hijacked and your only hope is some hippyish roustabout who spends his free time tying fishing lures? Yet, part of me realizes that maybe the mad-capped hijinks of our favorite Floridaphiles may be the exact motivation needed to tempt us bibliophiles to the Sunshine State. I for one have always wanted to be taken on a tour of the Florida hotspots by some mentally disturbed yet somewhat lovable spree killing maniac and his substance abusing friend.  Of course, I’ve been told I’m not quite right.

The Riptide Ultra-Glide is the 16th edition of Tim Dorsey’s hyper kinetic somewhat deranged love song/cautionary tale of his beloved Florida through the eyes of the ultimate Florida superfan and often times elaborate killer Serge A. Storms. This time, Serge, along with his trusty yet smoked up companion Coleman is shooting a reality show about Florida. Lucky for them that they happened upon a too nice to be true couple, Patrick and Barbara MacDougal, who are in the midst of a nightmare Florida vacation, where they have been robbed, injured, mistaken for drug dealers, slandered and scammed. This, in Serge’s mind, makes them the luckiest people on earth. The Rip Tide Ultra Glide is a screwball comedy on meth, told in Dorsey’s signature interlocking style. There are so many literally laugh out loud moments held within the digital pages of this novel, that I scared my share of small children and pets with my inappropriate laughter. I loved every minute of this tale, but I have to admit, this wasn’t my favorite Serge Storms novel. While I love all the zaniness of Serge, typically his homicidal wackiness ends up having a positive net effect on the storyline, yet, here I didn’t feel it. Serge is more of a passive observer in this tale, and doesn’t truly get involved in the story until far too late. I was much more fascinated by Pat and Barb’s tale of the WORST VACATION EVER. I genuinely liked this couple and hoped that things would end up all working out in the favor, yet, I feel the payoff never truly came. There were so many other things to really love about this novel that it made up for it’s less that satisfying plot. While Serge’s violence was a bit more restrained in this novel, his commentaries on cultural issues were spot on gut busting hilarious. Even better, I thought this was the first time that Coleman actually was a more interesting character than Serge. At points in the story, Coleman out-Serge’d Serge, becoming a guru to the stoner elite, and pulling a strange sort of brilliance out when you least expect it. Like Pizza and sex, even when the Serge A Storm’s novel your reading isn’t the best of the series, it’s still a lot better than sitting at home alone watching old episodes of Coach. While I found the plot of The Riptide Ultra-Glide to not be as satisfying as other Serge tales, Dorsey makes up for it with a lot of other flourishes that had me laughing, cheering and considering what items I could turn into a bong (for scientific purposes.) Any time I get to spend with Serge and Coleman is time well spent, as long as I don’t end up in a burning boat.

Part of me thinks that I should recuse myself every time I review an Oliver Wyman performance of a Tim Dorsey novel because I am totally biased by its awesomeness. I will posit that Oliver Wyman’s bringing to life of Serge and Coleman is some of the purest forms of audiobook joy I can think of. It’s hard for me to give a true critical analysis because while I’m listening to it, I’m like an audiobook nerd jumping up and down constantly repeating "My God… My God.. My God…" So excuse my fanboyish excesses when I say that Oliver Wyman gives another brilliant, funny, even somewhat touching performance in The Riptide Ultra-Glide. Well, maybe not touching. My tears were probably more from laughing so hard I burst retinal blood vessels, but still. Dorsey creates some wonderful characters. They are often over the top and possibly even cartoonish, and Wyman never fails to create the perfect voice for each of these characters. Wyman doesn’t bother with restraint, he just goes at each character like a neutered dog humping a stuffed animal to show his dominance. He wrings as much humor out of each one of Dorsey’s elaborately set up situations while deftly leading you though the mayhem, never leaving the audience behind. It’s a heck of a fun ride, and while you may be scared at times, Wyman never loses control of the vehicle.

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3 responses

29 01 2013
russell1200

I have leaved in the Myrtle Beach SC area which is junior size version of Florida. Where your living and what you do for a living can have a big impact on what your experiance can be. But the transient population, and the “entertainment” aspect of its focus, brings in a lot of darkness. Florida in the real world has the reputation of being the seeding ground for criminal ideas. What starts in Florida, if it works, will spread its way to other states.

Northen Florida is hard scrabble Southern and the old stomping grounds of the Dixie Mafia.

29 01 2013
SuziQoregon

I just finished a Serge book myself. I’ve only read the first three in the series but they’re such fun. Orange Crush was interesting because Serge was there, but he wasn’t himself. It’s scary when Serge is the normal one in the book. “Screwball comedy on meth” is a perfect description of Dorsey’s books.

Clearly I need to listen to one at some point. I’ve got the next two in print but perhaps the one after that.

27 07 2013
Cathy

Serge sounds and acts just like Quagmire on Family Guy…

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