by Bruce TierneyFebruary, 2004
Fun in the Sunshine State
Over the past several years, Florida mystery novelists seem to have gathered into two loosely knit camps. The first finds a spiritual muse in John D. MacDonald, creator of the iconic Travis McGee series. These novels feature traditional loner heroes, quixotic good guys striving for the higher ground (think Darryl Wimberley or Randy Wayne White). The second group is influenced by the slapstick (and wonderfully disrespectful) writings of Carl Hiaasen and Laurence Shames: counterculture heroes and wacky supporting characters abound. Tim Dorsey, author of the hysterical Cadillac Beach, falls into the latter group. Deftly jumping around the 20th century with little regard for chronology, Dorsey spins a tale featuring Serge Storms, a homeless (and certifiably loony) investigator bent on discovering the whereabouts of some diamonds that have been missing since the Johnson administration. It seems that Serge's grandfather had been involved in the infamous museum heist of the 563-carat Star of India diamond. Although most of the swag from the burglary had been recovered shortly afterward, several gems remain at large 40-odd years later, and Serge feels they are rightfully part of his family legacy. Serge's adventures as a detective, mischievous criminal and serial killer are chronicled in several previous novels beginning with Florida Roadkill, each as funny and irreverent as anything on the market today.