BOOK REVIEW: HURRICANE PUNCH
It's Hurricane Season in Florida in Tim Dorsey's latest Serge A. Storm novel, Hurricane Punch. Hurricanes and the gonzo serial killer Serge have one thing in common: they're both cutting a bloody swath of destruction and death across the state from the Keys to the Everglades. Serge faces a mid-life crisis, touring Florida and displaying his immense trove of Florida trivia, dispensing his brand of poetic justice upon those unfortunate enough to tick him off. If you like thrillers that combine large doses of dark humor into their plot, you'll love Hurricane Punch.
It's hard to pin down a specific genre for this book to fit in. It's part thriller, but there's not much of a mystery involved, except who a mysterious rival serial killer is. Whoever it is, he doesn't like it when the press credits Serge for his murders. He calls himself the "Eye of the Storm," and kills and leaves his victims during the eyes of the many hurricanes that strike Florida throughout Dorsey's novel. How can he hope to attract media attention to himself, though, when even FBI Agent Mahoney doubts that there is a second killer, and believes Serge is schizophrenic, committing all of the murders?
With its many references to popular rock icons such as Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones, the drug and alcohol usage of his Coleman, his traveling pal, and the insertion of Serge into the columns he eventually writes to try to get a job, Hurricane Punch reminded me of the writing of the late, great, gonzo journalist, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. That's why I wrote in the first paragraph that Serge is a "gonzo serial killer". He is a lunatic, but he's one who generally is fairly nice; you just don't ever want to find yourself on his list. He's a likeable and humorous character, despite his eccentricities and the extreme ways he deals with his anger issues.
Why is the book called Hurricane Punch? Both Serge and his serial killing rival follow the tracks of the hurricanes that sweep across Florida, for one. Serge and Coleman follow them using a GPS device, having adventures as they travel, sexual escapades, and--oh, yes--killing a few of the people who bug Serge. But, the title originates from an alcoholic drink that Coleman creates to outdo his previous concoction, Torpedo Juice, which was made of "Red Bull and Everclear." To this, which Coleman thought was "a little bland," he adds:
"...cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, light rum, dark rum, amaretto,
blue curacao, orange passion fruit, a wedge of lime, a leaf of mint, a squirt of triple
sec, a splash of Grand Marnier, a dash of grenadine, a pinch of coconut, a sprinkle
of sugar, shaved ice. Oh, and a whole bunch of mescaline."
If you want to get a vicarious experience about what it's like to, like the Rolling Stones in their song "Jumping Jack Flash," get "caught in a cross-fire hurricane," then Tim Dorsey's Hurricane Punch is the book for you. It likely won't appeal to staid readers who like more traditional sorts of thrillers and mysteries, for example, in the detective genre, or Agatha Christie fans; but, for those who like books that feature antiheroes with a sense of humor and irony, you'll get a kick out of reading about Serge's antics and crimes. You'll likely want to run out and buy the other books in Dorsey's Serge series (or, buy them online at friendly sites like this one), such as Florida Roadkill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Torpedo Juice, and The Big Bamboo, to name a few. They're all quirky, brilliantly written, humorous gems of writing.
REVIEWED BY DOUGLAS R. COBB
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