Audiobook Review: Tiger Shrimp Tango by Tim Dorsey

19 02 2014

Tiger Shrimp Tango by Tim Dorsey (Serge Storms, Bk. 17)

Read by Oliver Wyman

Harper Audio

Length: 9 Hrs 44 Min

Genre: Florida Thriller

Grade: A-

I always enjoy a well constructed plot. Stories that structure themselves well, with a natural progression, well timed twists and reveals, and conclusions that tie up all the tangents the authors went on in intriguing ways. Except when it comes to Serge novels. For some reason, the more scattershot, unstructured the plot is in one of Tim Dorsey’s Serge A Storms novel, the more I cackle in glee. The latest novel, Tiger Shrimp Tango has Serge at his manic best. Sure, there is a plot. Former Police nemesis, the noir speaking Mahoney is now a Private Eye, and has hired Serge to track down scam artist in an attempt to recover the money they took for their marks. The tracking down part isn’t hard for Serge, it’s the discipline not to kill them in elaborate ways were Serge is lacking. Tiger Shrimp Tango has everything you love in a Serge novel. While not the best plotted novel of the series, it’s full of twists and tons and tons of laughs. When not working on Mahoney’s projects, Serge is attempting to bring together the polarized sides our modern political landscape in some of the most hilarious moments of the series. As someone who considers himself and extreme moderate and politics junkie, the pot shots at both sides of the spectrum had me holing, especially the segment where both parties attempt to explain why Jesus would make a horrible political candidate.  On top of all that, Serge comes up with some of his best kills and most deserving prey. Tiger Shrimp Tango is another great example of how Dorsey takes the already zany over the top Florida Thriller genre and ramps it up to absurdity all to the delight of this particular listener.

Oliver Wyman can make even a mediocre Serge novel into audio gold, and in Tiger Shrimp Tango, he delivers another performance so hilarious you want to avoid drinking dairy products unless you enjoy the feeling of milk gushing from your nostrils. For some reason, I always tend to listen to one of these novels when I am out and about shopping in public places, and the stares I get from my inappropriate laughter makes it all worth it. Wyman gives Serge and Coleman and almost cartoon character feel, yet infused with a humanity you can’t overlook. Yet, one of the highlights of the novel is the assortment of colorful characters, lowlifes, flim flam men and women, innocent dupes, political protesters and other not quite typical character  that Wyman brings to life is such wonderful ways. Tiger Shrimp Tango is one dance you wouldn’t want any other voice to cut in on.

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.

Audiobook Review: When Elves Attack by Tim Dorsey

4 11 2011

When Elves Attack: A Joyous Christmas Greeting from the Criminal Nutbars of the Sunshine State by Tim Dorsey

Read by Oliver Wyman

Harper Audio

Length: 5 Hrs 5 Mins

Genre: Florida Comic Thriller

Quick Thoughts: When Elves Attack is the perfect present to fans of Tim Dorsey’s Serge A Storms series, giving us everything we have grown to love about the antics of Serge and his cohorts, and adding to that the spirit of the Holidays with hilarious and heartfelt results.

Grade: A

Throughout much of my 20’s I was one of those grinchy, bah-humbugging Christmas’s grouches that seem to become more and more prevalent. Much of the wonder and fun of Christmas was lost on me. I was single, unmarried, and my siblings were all starting there own families, so I was lucky to receive a few sympathy gifts and an invite to my sister’s traditional Christmas day shenanigan’s of which the best part was her lasagna.  To make matters worse, most of my 20’s was spent working as a retail manager where they started playing the Christmas music November 1st on a loop of which is fine for a quick stop, but mind numbingly annoying after a 12 hour shift.  That all changed about 10 years ago, when I changed careers, and I began working with special needs adults. I realized that viewing Christmas through their eyes made all the difference. Seeing the joy as they see Santa riding in on the Fire Truck, and opening their presents Christmas morning turned me from Scroogish ways, and allowed my heart to grow three sizes bigger. So, despite it being only the first week of November, I was excited to take on my first Holiday audiobook listen. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the audiobook was written by one of my favorite authors and featuring some of my favorite characters, Serge Storms and Coleman, as well as a variety of the colorful Florida Nutbars that have brought me so many laugh out loud moments in this series.

If you are not familiar with Serge A. Storms, you are missing one of the best literary characters out there. Serge is an utterly insane, serial killing Floridaphile, who together with his drug raddled, slow witted sidekick Coleman gets involved in a yearly yarn. Now, despite his killing sprees Serge is a highly likable character, unless you are a rude, abusive lout who violates one of the many off kilter rules of Serge’s twisted civility. Each year, Serge becomes obsessed about some Florida institution, like NASA, hurricanes, Spring Break, etc. and while enjoying his rampage through the Sunshine State, takes out those who hurt or exploit something he loves in complex and creative ways. In many ways, experiencing Christmas through Serge’s almost childlike, twisted perspective is a great way to truly appreciate the Holiday. In When Elves Attack, Serge and Coleman go on a mission to end the media hyped "War on Christmas" by doing Christmas "Big" and this leads to lots of hijinks and funny moments. Yet the true heart of the story is Serge attempting to learn how to be a family by moving onto Triggerfish Lane, and emulating his hero, the low key, conflict phobic family-man Jim Davenport. While not as madcap as some of his previous novels, Dorsey brings his A game in a tighter, more uplifting tale that is still full of his clever uses of Serge’s mania. In many ways, a Tim Dorsey novel reminds me of some of the best written Seinfeld episodes, where seemingly random events merge together in a perfect ending that you chide yourself for not seeing coming. What really won me over was the ending of the tale, full of the childlike joys of the season, and filled with characters we have grown to love. When Elves Attack is the perfect present to fans of the Series, giving us everything we have grown to love about the antics of Serge and his cohorts, and adding to that the spirit of the Holidays.

One of the joys of any Serge novel is experiencing it through the voice of Oliver Wyman. From the opening moments, when Wyman takes on his old lady persona and has Edith Grabowski announcing she has given up sex, I couldn’t help but laugh. Wyman has used his voice to help us connect with these characters so well, that each time I heard a reoccurring character introduced, in Wyman’s chosen voice, I would have a Norm from Cheers moment, wanting to applaud their entry shouting out their name. There is just something special about returning to a beloved series, with a narrator you know is also a fan, who pulls out all the stops to do justice to the writing. When Elves Attack is a hilarious, slapstick Christmas Adventure that is full of heart and allows you to experience Christmas through the childlike eyes of our favorite serial killer.

Audiobook Review: Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey

2 02 2011

Electric Barracuda (Serge A. Storms, Book 13) by Tim Dorsey

Read by Oliver Wyman

Harper Audio

Quick Thoughts: A manic, madcap romp through Florida, as only Tim Dorsey can do.

Grade: A

Electric Barracuda is the 13th novel featuring the wild and wacky Florida Serial killer Serge A. Storms. After 13 novels, you would expect a wide variety of situation, no matter how madcap, allowing you to get a glimpse of the ever changing demented mind. Well, we might as well be expecting free healthcare and lower taxes. With Serge, you basically get the same basic thing. Serge and Coleman dashing from one interesting Florida locale to another, telling a lot of the same jokes and doing a lot of the same insane (for Serge) and self destructive (for Coleman) stuff. Along the way Serge will come up with ever elaborate ways to kill the scum that seems to float to the top of the Sunshine State. Eventually, you’d think it would get old.

Well, it hasn’t yet. A Serge novel is like the worlds most amazing rollercoaster that you can ride when ever you want, but, once a year they make it even better. Yeah, Dorsey throws in some plot device that encourages Serge to do his thing, In Electric Barracuda, Serge is traveling throughout Florida blogging about his latest idea, Fugitive Tours, which will allow you to see Florida as you would if you were running from the law. While doing this, he is unknowingly being chased by the law. Along with that you have a corrupt lawyer, Mahoney still stuck in his noir fantasy world, a mystery man, Mikey (a special guest on his journey)  and a big surprise for Serge. Oh, and Coleman drinks, and takes the orange pill.

To make things even better, Oliver Wyman again performs the reading for the audiobook. Wyman handles a hell of a load taking on Serge and it truly is a marvel. His performance not only does the material justice, but I would argue makes the book even better. If you have only read a Serge Novel, and haven’t had the chance to experience it in audiobook form, then I urge you, take a chance and listen. You haven’t truly experienced the world of Tim Dorsey’s creation, until you have heard it read by Oliver Wyman.