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BOOK REVIEW: ATOMIC LOBSTER
BY TIM DORSEY

We hope you enjoy this book review by Douglas R. Cobb.





If you like the Darkly Dreaming Dexter novels and series about the serial killer with a heart and a sick & twisted sense of humor to go with it, you're sure to love reading about the Florida-born and raised Serge A. Storms in Tim Dorsey's latest book out in paperback, Atomic Lobster. In this installment of Serge's bloody, twisted, but darkly humorous career, he and his stoner traveling buddy Coleman have plenty to contend with, like dealing with the criminals the drug-smuggling Diaz Brothers; forming a sort of Fight Club with people dressed as clowns and mimes; "protecting" their "friends" Jim and Martha Davenport (from the novel Triggerfish Twist) from Tex McGraw and his brothers; and inadvertently helping to stop terrorists working with the Diaz Brothers from smuggling into the USA cocaine laced with anthrax in hollow fake antiquities.

Why the title Atomic Lobster? In part, because it fits with the some of the other titles of the series, like The Stingray Shuffle, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, and the afore-mentioned Triggerfish Twist, and it's a title that's kind of humorous. Also, it's because the married couple, Jim and Martha Davenport, move from their residence to Lobster Lane due to the neighborhood's increasing crime rate. Previously, they'd lived on, and moved from, Triggerfish Lane and Manatee Drive, and Serge - partially behind the moves - has got the idea in his head that Jim saved his life in Triggerfish Twist. He's duty-bound, by some bizarre code of ethics, to protect the couple from Tex, who has been released from prison.

Driving and touring across Florida's vast amount of history-filled and scenic width and breadth, Serge and Coleman manage to pick up a coked-up exotic dancer, Rachael, who stumbles into the house they've requisitioned, where a hooker named Sharon had lived and shared their adventures in a different book in the series. Serge and Coleman don't realize, until relatively late in the book, that the two women are sisters. Since Serge killed Sharon, the results are what you might expect - Rachael understandably freak out, and tries to kill Serge and Coleman with a knife. Serge, ever creative with the techniques he uses to murder people, forces the tube of a fire extinguisher down Rachael's throat and presses the lever to release the fire retardant foam within it, drowning her with the foam.

One thing can be said in Serge's defense, and that is he doesn't just kill at random or for cheap thrills. He has, as I mentioned, a code of ethics and honor, and generally only kills people who screw with him, Coleman, or any of his other friends, or who are threatening or messing with someone who looks weak and defenseless in comparison. He is a killer with a heart, in other words, and as long as you don't cross him, he can seem to be a very friendly, jolly, joking sort of guy. Also, he is a treasure trove of trivia about Florida, and reading a Serge A. Storms novel, you get the combination of having read a travelogue along with a finely crafted darkly twisted tale of a serial killer's escapades.

Coleman, as always, adds a lot to making sure that the novels don't get too serious. His main goal in life is partying, and cruising Florida's highways and byways with his pal, Serge, a throwback to the old black-and-white Road movies of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Well, that is, if Bob Hope was an alcoholic pot-smoker, and Bing Crosby specialized at getting revenge on people who were SOBs to them. In one memorable chapter of the novel, Coleman and another friend, Lenny, construct the world's largest bong at a mansion he and Serge had been hired to house sit at, while a Hall of Fame football star is cooking meth in a closet, and the whole place goes up in flames.

Atomic Lobster may not appeal to everyone, because of its sometimes graphic violence, the strong language and dealing with violence and death in a darkly twisted tone. But if you can get around that, it and the other Serge A. Storms novels can be recognized as being shining gems of psychotic brilliance. Reading them is like taking a literary walk on the wild side. I recommend this newest one out in paperback and the entire series to anyone who likes their mysteries with a violent and perverse twist of black humor.

REVIEWED BY DOUGLAS R. COBB

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, DOUGLAS R. COBB


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