Orange Crush: A Novel (Serge Storms)

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9780060185770: Orange Crush: A Novel (Serge Storms)

In his two previous novels, Florida Roadkill and Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Tim Dorsey rode a thousand mph whirlwind of outrageous, violent-funny crime through the Sunshine State and delighted readers and critics everywhere. Now he gives us a darkly hilarious, megatwisted view of politics in the land of the hanging chad.

The race is on for the governorship of Florida -- a bare-knuckled fistfight between pro-capital punishment House Speaker Gomer Tatum and Marlon Conrad, the present occupant of the governor's mansion. The Republicans' "golden boy" -- handsome, unthreatening, engaged to the talented ventriloquist, Miss Tallahassee 2001...and a loyal, unquestioning tool of the powerful special interests -- Marlon seems a virtual shoo-in for reelection. That is, until he undergoes a radical personality shift during a bloody military action in the Balkans.

There's nothing like staring death in the face for messing with a person's priorities. Now it's just three weeks before the election and Marlon is suddenly talking about "issues" and "reform" as he crosses the length and breadth of his home state with an amnesiac speechwriter and a chief of staff who turns catatonic in the presence of minorities. The governor's newfound conscience might well cost him the election, though. And it appears that pretty much everybody is trying to kill him.

But the incumbent isn't the only one sitting in somebody's rifle sights these days. A murderer affectionately dubbed "the Bumper Sticker Killer" -- for the pithy slogans found Magic-Markered on the victims' bodies -- is leaving a trail of very deserving corpses from the Panhandle to Biscayne Bay. Nothing, however, is going to derail democracy in this glorious state -- not even coast-to-coast serial slaughter, kamikaze journalistic shenanigans, the numbingly ordinary prognostications of the real Joe Blow, or mayhem at the Million Parrot Head March. And when reemergent Florida folklorist and spree killer Serge A. Storms is thrown into the mix, things really start to get interesting.... With a warped and manic fury that makes Hiaasen seem serious and Hunter Thompson staid, Tim Dorsey does it again -- rocketing Florida crime fiction forward by colliding death with the political process as madness takes the wheel of the Orange Crush

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Product Description:

Death by taxidermy, sky-diving Hemingway lookalikes, Toto the Dancing Weather Dog and killer grannies - it's just another day in Tim Dorsey's Florida. Inspired by years spent reporting on stranger-than-fiction crimes for the Tampa Tribune, Dorsey burst onto the scene with his much-acclaimed novels Florida Roadkill and Hammerhead Ranch Motel, featuring Serge Storms, the homicidal misift with the encyclopedic knowledge of the Sunshine State. Now, in Orange Crush, Tim Dorsey turns his attention to senseless violence on the campaign trail...For Republican Marlon Conrad, the Florida governorship is a done deal - until the day he and his team inexplicably embark on a whirlwind election tour in a bright orange camper van. But his ratings soar, and soon the press and his shell-shocked opponents set off in hot pursuit - closely followed by the police. For behind this unscheduled roadtrip lies a mysterious trail of mayhem and murder. And it bears all the hallmarks of Florida's most wanted - and most lovable - homicidal maniac.

Review:

Maybe you can't be too outrageous when the subject is Florida politics, but Tim Dorsey ( Florida Roadkill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel) manages to go so far over the top in this satirical page burner that even diehard fans of Carl Hiaasen, Laurence Shames, and Dave Barry may find their patience wearing thin after the first couple of chapters. When Republican Governor Marlon Conrad is inexplicably called up by the reserve unit he joined for a reelection photo-op and sent to Bosnia, he suffers a midlife crisis that has his campaign staff totally flummoxed. Not that they're playing with a full deck either; Conrad's closest adviser is a crazed serial killer who happens to be an expert in Florida folklore, and the rest of the boys on the bus--the Orange Crush, Marlon's joyride across the Sunshine State--aren't much saner.

While Conrad's the main character, there are enough second-string oddballs to keep this road trip going until the denouement, a bizarre debate between the governor and his opponent, Gomer Tatum, whose idea of intelligent political discourse is a WWF death match. They include Helmut Von Zeppelin, a multimillionaire who owns most of the politicians in Florida; Jackie Monroeville, a trailer queen determined to get her man into the governor's mansion; and Gottfried Escrow, Marlon's chief of staff. There's plenty of mayhem but not much mystery in this comic novel that proves there can be too much of a good thing. While Dorsey keeps the belly laughs coming, he doesn't stop long enough for the reader to give much of a hoot about any of his characters, much less root for the good guys to win. --Jane Adams

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