We just had our first day in the mid-eighties here in NYC this week. And there will be plenty more before much longer. There is nothing that makes one pine for winter more than sweating incessantly and enjoying the enhanced fragrance of garbage and sewage that graces city air when things start to cook. So, a perfect time to jump into a Christmas book.
Tim Dorsey delights in sending up his home state of Florida. In When Elves Attack
, the 14th tale in the series, he takes on the winter holiday season in that most unwintry of American states, Florida. (Yeah, Hawaii, I mean the continental USA, jeez) We are rejoined with Serge Storms, cheerful psycho-killer, proud host to several extreme forms of mental illness, defender of the weak and/or righteous against the cruel, mindless and taste-challenged, and his opposite, Coleman, a laid back sort who is all you could want in a drugged out, laid back wing man. Both are, of course, well prepared for the holiday season, in full elf gear.
Dorsey was asked by his publisher to write a Christmas book, and while he had some trepidations, he managed to turn his homicidal attention to some of the wonderful features of Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is definitely an extra
in the series, at under 200 pps. There are some things to be learned here, from what might happen to a frozen turkey that is popped into a deep fryer, (I had the pleasure of actual deep-fried turkey many years back, with some erstwhile pals in Louisiana, and it was amazing. This one comes out a bit differently.) to how an opening rush at a big box store can be transformed into a weapon of ass destruction, to a heads up for some security things to look for in mall parking lots. It is filled with delightful hints for how you might add some spice to your
holiday celebrations, and find creative uses for legos.
Serge, of course, gives and gives, but those on the receiving end might not appreciate his particular form of holiday cheer. The core story, to the extent there actually is one, is Serge's determination that he wants to settle down and live a sort of Ozzie and Harriet life, like a couple of his favorite non-psychotics, Jim and Martha, on the sedate (until now) Triggerfish Lane. More specifically, the intent was to gather together for a large Christmas dinner characters from sundry other Serge books. Visitors from prior volumes popping by for weed, nog, and mayhem, include the aforementioned Jim and Martha, of course, the lovely Country and City, or whatever their names really are, fleeing the law, per usual, and a pack of seniors, the G-unit, eager to kick ass and party hearty. The author
- from Sarasota Herald Tribune
Excessive holiday lighting comes in for a look and an unusual application or two, and yes, there will be yule logs. There will also be caroling, and tree decorations, and dare we hope for a White Christmas? There is also room made for another holiday tradition, the layoff. In fact Jim is the guy who is brought in to lay people off for no good reason at the behest of misguided management looking to save a few bucks and outsource the rage of the newly unemployed onto a third party. What could possibly go wrong? Another side-tale concerns a lovely feature of Florida law that prevents the state from seizing a person's home to pay debts. Some awful, financial vampire sorts have taken advantage of this to shield their assets from the courts and their creditors. Serge finds an interesting partial solution to the problem
One knows what to expect when picking up a Tim Dorsey book, a love of his home state, a significant body count and the application of extreme creativity in finding new ways to fill those large plastic bags with the deserving.
No one picks these books up for their literary quality, or even, mostly, a particularly coherent story. This is grand guignol. The joke is in pointing out the awful and beating the crap out of it, or worse, and doing it in ever more creative ways, while sustaining a buzz. If you are looking for more than that, you have come to the wrong asylum.
We will not make the silly mistake of looking at this book for anything other than what it is. The question then is whether it succeeds within the confines of the genre. While there are moments that are definitely satisfying, with creative punishments dealt out to those who desperately need them, I found much of the book forced and unfunny. Well, forced
may be drifting a bit into that area of not accepting it for what it is. So, forget that. Of course it is forced. It does offer some interesting and even useful information, and does present several doses of real creativity. I have read a couple of Dorsey's Serge books, and rather enjoyed them, so there is no question here of prudish feathers being ruffled. I enjoy comedic carnage as much as the next maximum-security escapee. But this one just did not quite do it for me. No real laugh-out-loud moments. So, while I will toss out three stars (at least one stolen from another review after I slipped it a mickey) to encourage a continuation of the madness and to reward the creativity on display, if Santa were rating this one, he might say "No No No."
Here are the other two Serge books I have stumbled through: Florida Roadkill (Serge Storms Mystery, #1)
and Gator A-Go-Go (Serge Storms Mystery, #12)