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From Barnes & NobleOur Review
The Sun Goes to Your Head
Cocaine smuggling. Spree killing. Don Johnson impersonators. Ethically questionable taxidermy. Teenage sexaholic pothead fugitives. Welcome to Tim Dorsey’s Florida: a kind of criminal fantasyland where the drugs and liquor flow freely in equal measure, the homicides are always spectacular and hilarious, and the far-fetched, far-flung, and far-out coincidences are so much damn fun that you’ll be cursing your own boring reality by the time your stay is up. It is one hell of a place to visit; and if you’re planning to stick around, the Hammerhead Ranch Motel is the only game in town.
Hammerhead Ranch Motel is the title of Dorsey’s follow up to Florida Roadkill, the book that introduced us to Serge A. Storm, probably the most loveable sociopath fiction has ever known. It’s also the name of the beachside establishment on the Gulf Coast outside of Tampa that serves as the eye of this remarkably over-the-top hurricane of a novel. Serge has a room there; he’s camped out as he searches for the five million dollars in stolen drug money that disappeared at the end of Florida Roadkill. All of Tampa’s criminal community is looking, too, and God save the poor fool who winds up getting into the mix. Many do. The action, needless to say, is relentless.
At first it almost seems that Dorsey is too caught up in his own ability to write amusing little vignettes populated by colorful wackos, as in the beginning of the book when we’re introduced to one after another of his crazies in a series of bizarre, unconnected situations. It almost gets tiring. Then the tide turns, and Dorsey’s absurd-yet-ingenious plot machinations begin to reveal themselves. Half of the people he introduces us to he gleefully bumps off, and the survivors get dug deeper into the framework of the story. As the death toll mounts, with each murder or accident more imaginative and appalling than the last, the remaining players -- a truly wild cast of characters connected in a multitude of ways -- converge on Hammerhead Ranch, with a hurricane charging up the coast, for a denouement of mock-biblical proportions.
The novel does have its flaws. With so many characters, it’s often difficult to remember who’s who (is this the friend of the college student who fell through the roof of the aquarium into the alligator tank, or the guy who was misinformed about having one month to live and has decided to kill an obnoxious talk radio personality?), and not all of them ring true as authentic nutjobs. But most do, and we should forgive Dorsey for his, at times, overly enthusiastic method -- not just because he writes some of the funniest sex scenes ever composed in English, but because, goofy as it is, he has produced an astonishingly entertaining book.
Olli Chanoff is a freelance editor and writer who lives a bicoastal existence.