Tim Doroey, author of the raucous, raw-edged, hilariously bent literary joy-ride, Florida Roadkill, now invites you back to his Sunshine State--not the tourist-mecca peneioner-paraclise the Chamber of Commerce would have you visit, but an Eden verdant with lost drug money; a center of lunatic, gravity, drawing fugitives, gangsters, losers, sociopaths and psychos of every flavor and degree to its tropic environs. And they all congregate in one sleazy, run-down motel perched on the Gulf of Mexico, just a short spitting distance from Tampa Bay.
Every room in the Hammerhead Ranch is host to a different schemer or slimeball. The Diaz Boys--cocaine duckpins who have survived only by the dumbest of luck--are stuck there with ten thousand hot, zebra-striped beepers. It's where Zargoza--ne Harvey Fiddlebottom--runs his bogus sweepstakes scam. Here undercover cops running sting operations on undercover cops are busted by undercover cops, runaway checkout girls turn into sex-crazed pot maniacs and a virgin hard-luck gigolo strikes out again.
And just down the row, the native, Serge A. Storms, is hiding out from the Florida "heat"--("you go and do a little spree killing and they never let you forget it!")--and looking out for the silver briefcase stuffed with five million dollars that has become his raison detre ...along with the compulsive need to visit every sight of local interest in his beloved home state. And since Serge, has stopped keeping up with his meds, he is capable of wreaking more havoc than hurricane, Rolando-berto--the big wind gathering force offshore, just waiting for the opportunity to blow everything straight to hell.
Like Hiaasen on a razor juiced with Quentin Tarantino amphetamine, Tim Dorsey's Hammerhead Ranch Motel is a rapid-fire, over-the-top mix of dancing Chihuahuas dressed up to predict the, weather, druggedout Don Johnson impersonators and skydiving Hemingways, hateful two-ton deejays and octogenarian enforcers. It is hilarious and deranged, but this is Florida, after all--where a direct hit from a catastrophic hurricane is the least of your worries.
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There's a different schemer or slimeball behind every door: cocaine duckpins who have survived only by the dumbest fortune, hard-luck gigolos desperate to score, undercover cops busting undercover cops who are running sting operations on undercover cops. And just down the row, local historian and spree killer Serge A. Storms -- who has stopped keeping up with his meds -- is still looking for a briefcase stuffed with five million dollars...and is now capable of wreaking more havoc than hurricane Rolando-berto, the big wind gathering force offshore, just waiting for the opportunity to blow everything straight to hell.
Pack up your bags and head south to sunny Florida. Leave your rational mind at home and come well armed. There's a room with your number on it at the Hammerhead Ranch Motel.Review:
Penzler Pick, August 2000: Is it Florida, or is it the mystery writers who set their stories there? There seems to be a tradition of Florida noir that is as loony as that name implies. Tim Dorsey is the newest writer from the Sunshine State whose stories are inhabited by a cast of characters who, in any other state, would probably be behind bars. In Dorsey's world, not only are they roaming free, they are also wreaking havoc with impunity up and down the peninsula.
In his first book, Florida Roadkill, Dorsey introduced us to several characters who are still at large as his second story begins. Serge A. Storms is a spree killer and Florida history buff, still looking for the five million dollars that's stashed in the trunk of a Chrysler--unbeknownst to the driver--somewhere in the state. Johnny Vegas is a playboy who, because catastrophic events always seem to get in the way, has yet to lose his virginity. Also along for the zany ride is 90-year-old Mrs. Edna Ploomfield, who blows away a man delivering her flowers and chocolates; a DJ who changed his name legally to Boris the Hateful Piece of BLEEP so that he would not be BLEEPED on the air every time he used the name; and Safety Officer Chester "Porkchop" Dole who watches the monitors on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Along with a dancing Chihuahua who forecasts the weather, the Diaz Boys, Harvey Fiddlebottom, undercover cops, and a variety of oddballs, they will congregate in or around the seediest place never to have been shut down, the Hammerhead Ranch Motel on the Gulf of Mexico. There, they will play out their lunacy as Hurricane Rolando-berto bears down on them. This is a wonderful summertime read, relentlessly funny and impossible to put down. --Otto Penzler
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