Customer Reviews: Florida Roadkill: A Novel (Serge Storms)
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on June 27, 2000
Tim Dorsey's "Florida Roadkill" is hands down, without a doubt, one of the funniest novels I've read in years! I was laughing by page two!
The narrative is fast-paced and top notch. The plot is devilishly multi-layered and engaging. Mr. Dorsey populates his delightfully demented Floridian world with the most whacked out collection of loonies ever assembled.
Serge A. Storms is a character that readers will remember for some time. Mentally unbalanced and a font of trivial pursuit-esque knowledge.
Coleman, Serge's sidekick, is a whack-a-loon of the highest caliber. There's a seen involving Coleman, an almost successful bank robbery and a poorly hidden dye-pack that had me laughing till my sides hurt. Clearly a scene that could easily be adapted for the big screen by the Farrelly brothers!
The supporting cast of nut-jobs really flesh this novel out! To name but only a few....Sharon Rhodes. Johnny Vegas. The Riders of Eternal Doom, Sunshine Chapter. Fred McJagger and his beleaguered residents of Vista Isles. Mo Grenadine. And let's not forget the world's worst drug cartel!
Throw into this mix a suitcase with $5 million in cash and you get a novel that's some bizarre emulsion of a Monty Python sketch, Clerks, Pulp Fiction and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"!
The inference that this novel is remiscent of Hiaasen is a very nice sentiment and well deserved. However, Tim Dorsey is a writer of his own unqiue style of prose and humor. I EAGERLY await "Hammerhead Ranch Motel"!
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on August 1, 2008
...for me to finally get into this story. Having read only one Hiaasen book which was too miserable to remember I had sworn off the Florida Fiction genre forever. Then I discovered Laurence Shames. His tales, while somewhat over the top at least provided a cast of characters that one could relate to. When I came across Dorsey after completing the Shames catalog, I figured why not? The prologue; a number of disjointed scenes without explanation was a great way to lure the reader in, fast paced, all action. Why were these characters thrown into such outlandish situations? What was the common thread that joined them together? Obviously the answers would come in the chapters ahead. The unfortunate part for me was that most of these characters were more like caricatures. Everything about them was so bizzarely ridiculous, yet shortly after the halfway point everything suddenly fell into place, starting with four latin thugs holding a corporate office hostage in search of the CEO who has indirectly absconded with a hefty sum of their money. Rather than quaking in fear, the hostages assault them with questions.

>> One of the employees raised his hand.
"This isn't school! We don't take questions."
"How do you smuggle cocaine?"
"I saw it in the papers that they call you the Keystone Cartel"
"Do you Hide it in your underwear?"
"Do you swallow balloons with tiny strings that come up your throat and are tied to your back teeth?"
"You should get a running start and run right up to the border and throw it really hard."
The leader raised his arms to get the room's attention.
"OK we gotta leave now. Nobody move...and count to ten thousand. What's that state you say to count slow?"
"Mississippi," One of them answered.
"Mississippi, that's it. Let me hear all of you."
The staff: "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi"
The Mierda cartel sprinted for the elevators.

It was here when I realized this story echoed one of my favorite movies of all time; "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," the tale of a bunch of unlikely characters all in search of a fortune that doesn't belong to them. Florida Roadkill primarily revovlves around Serge A. Storms; a psychopathic killer who has stopped his medication. His obsession with Florida history is both heartwarming and captivating. Dorsey has a way of intertwining what I assume are real historical facts that are fascinating while letting this yarn spin completely out of control. By the end of the book, you're out of breath both from the chase and laughing so hard, you can't wait to get to the next installment. Stick with it. The payoff(?) is well worth it.
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on December 23, 2008
Consider this a review of the whole series.

I have been reading these books yearly since I found this one (Florida Roadkill) on the shelf of B&N in about 2000. As an ex-Floridian I just had to have it. Tim Dorsey should be proud that B&N shelves his books as "Literature" and not "Crime" or "Mystery", but that may be why it took me a year to notice it.

Although over the top plot-wise and character-wise, the books give you the *feel* of Florida and in that sense are quite realistic, even the barely believable weird stuff: I have seen an alligator walking down the middle of a residential street; I have seen a *fish* that didn't make it across the street before getting killed (Florida has walking catfish); I have seen strange and scary people (while otherwise alone -- and on foot) in the Everglades; I have been in a hurricane; I have been on a disastrous airboat ride (caught in thunderstorm); I owned two plastic pink flamingos. All the stuff of Dorsey's Florida and all before any of these books were published.

This series stars Serge A. Storms. Serge suffers from a variety of (somewhat under control) mental illnesses. Although obsessive, compulsive, and dangerous, Serge has a strong moral sense and is quite likable in many other ways as well. For example he doesn't drink nor take drugs -- not even the prescribed drugs he *should* be taking. Some negative reviewers say Serge is NOT likable but is reprehensible. They are just party-poopers hung up on this whole "serial killer" thing. Serge doesn't like killing any more than the rest of us but sometimes ya gotta do what's gotta be done, and if you want a job done right -- well you know the rest. And really, he doesn't do this very often.

Another endearing habit of his is to act as a tour guide describing many interesting points of Florida's history from his very interesting point of view. I believe (without much justification) that these little history lessons are 100% true.

Unfortunately when off his medications, as he usually is, Serge looses his self control and acts quite impulsively, although he always has a way of explaining things so you can see them his way. His actions sometimes take the form of revenge for real (never imagined but perhaps exaggerated) injustices and result in some nasty character's demise, invariably by very inventive Rube-Goldbergish techniques. This habit of leaving behind a string of bodies in strange situations has the authorities on his trail, complicating whatever else Serge gets involved in.

The plots of the books are as inventive as the various murder schemes Serge comes up with. This is because the plots are driven by the various characters' motivations and Serge's motivations are, well, whimsical. For example he might suddenly (and I do mean suddenly) decide to get married, or to dedicate his life to the study of trains. There are always several sub-plots involving seemingly unrelated people and situations that come together as each book progresses. These subplots and the characters involved sometimes carry forward from one book to another, even though things are usually resolved to some degree in each book.

The books' structures are also inventive. You get to hear the books' narrator whine to you about his job. Well it is tough to explain why a dead character comes back to life from one book to the next. And is he really an "omniscient narrator" or is he a little drunk? You also hear, briefly, from the typesetter.

Tim Dorsey books are a guilty pleasure. I consume them like popcorn but am afraid to recommend them to friends since they might think I am deranged (at best) or dangerous (at worst).

But since most of you don't really know me -- highest recommendation!


If this is the first time you are considering one of the Dorsey books, I (and the author) recommend you read them in the order published. See proper sequence below. You can also look at Tim Dorsey's web site. Google "tim dorsey home".

And this (Florida Roadkill) is the one to start with!


If this is NOT your first Dorsey book then shame on you for starting somewhere in the middle. Get this one and get back on track. Restart your weird and wacky journey from the beginning! Florida's flotsam and jetsam await you.


Florida Roadkill (1999) Meet Serge, the serial killer, and other mischief-makers.
Hammerhead Ranch Motel (2000) Serge and a motel full of desperadoes go after $5 million.
Orange Crush (2001) Serge gets into politics.
Triggerfish Twist (2002) What if Serge moved into *your* neighborhood?
The Stingray Shuffle (2003) A train ride and a suitcase full of cash.
Cadillac Beach (2004) Serge looks into his grandfather's death.
Torpedo Juice (2005) Serge gets married. You meet the books' narrators (both of them).
The Big Bamboo (2006) Serge goes Hollywood. It took me a while to get the actors straight in this one.
Hurricane Punch (2007) Serge the storm chaser is chasing the Eye of the Storm.
Atomic Lobster (2008) TBD -- haven't read this one yet but I hear there is a cruise ship.
Nuclear Jellyfish (2009) TBD -- nor this one. "Atomic", "Nuclear" -- could there be a connection?

P.S. Some reviewers say Dorsey hadn't really hit his stride in the early books and others say he gets stale as the books progress. I am of neither school. I say he hit the ground running and he somehow managed to keep it fresh, at least as far as I have made it through the books (all but the last two). One clue to this is Amazon's "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" feature on the product page. Customers who bought one generally bought all of them. But, as I said, I read them at about one per year. Reading a bunch back-to-back could lead to some sort of overload.

P.P.S. It is "Florida Roadkill", not "Florida Road Kill".
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on October 7, 1999
Picture this scene: I'm riding in a Greyhound bus filled with various low-lifes (including myself) from Gainesville to Ft. Myers (both in Florida) with this book in hand, laughing out loud every 5 minutes or so. Ordinarily, this is not proper behavior on such a trip, where you should keep your mouth shut and your valuables firmly in grasp. Kudos to you, Mr. Dorsey, for your ability to express the insanity of Florida crime with such wit and candor. You are truly in league with Hiaasen and Leonard for great Florida crime fiction. I can't wait until the next book for the exploits of Serge, who is certainly in line for admission into the Crime Character Hall of Fame (next to Hiaasen's Skink).
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on July 5, 2015
While I enjoyed the many scenes featuring whacky places I know so well, I found the book ultimately juvenile and, sorry, stupid! If there had been one character..... just one .... who had some minor ability to be like-able, I would have been willing to work a little at liking the book. As it was, I felt as though I was at an acid-ridden, alcoholic frat party where young men who should have known better were bragging about their mid-deeds. When it comes to Florida-based satire, this is one native Floridian who will stick to the likes of Carl Hiaasen.
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on October 16, 2001
To those who think Tim Dorsey isn't in the same league as Hiaasen, Shames or Leonard and the rest of the ilk....I think you need to seriously develop some taste. You want to talk about "borrowing" from Hiaasen? Then read "Big Trouble" by Dave Barry. As much as I love Hiaasen, and have read almost every one of his books, his approach thesedays is so extremely color-by-the-numbers, that you can see what's coming from about 20 miles away.
Dorsey stands on his own and he does it incredibly well. With nods of the head to Hiaasen and even Barry (they do a "cameo" in this book), this book is its own creation. It owes very little to the other authors. This book has many twists and turns, and it's fantastic to see how these characters get what's coming to them. There are many times that what is going on in the story is just laugh-out-loud funny. Contrary to some of the short-attention-span readers below, you DO care what happens to these characters. They DO come to life and make you feel as if you almost know them. Having lived in Tampa, as well as South Florida before, maybe this is a humor that is best appreciated by Florida folks. Maybe there's something that's lost in the translation on its way to other states (Virginia and Oregon, I'm looking in your direction.)
A word of "caution" I suppose is in order. Not to give away the ending of this book, but, it just ends. It ends with an old-fashioned radio program ending such as: "Will our hero escape the death trap?" or "What will become of?" Yes, no perfect-wrap-it-up-in-a-pretty-bow style "EPILOGUE" endings so famous with Hiaasen and ripped off by Barry and Shames. Perhaps some kudos are in order for creative marketing skills, I don't really know.
Having said that about the ending, the story continues and is picked back up in "Hammerhead Ranch Motel." So, my advice, buy both of these books to get the complete tale, or you will be just left wondering.
You want some Florida authors that make Hiaasen (again, even as much as I love him), Shames, Barry, and Dorsey, seem like school children? Look into James W. Hall and Randy Wayne White. They are truly gifted and epitomize literary skill. If overall wackiness is your genre, look further into anything by Christopher Moore.
Enjoy it for good writing, great humor, and a entertaining story. If you're constantly reading line by line, looking for things similar to other authors, get a life. You have far too much time on your hands if that's the case. If it is the case, think about this, someone (and I won't name names) said that all fiction is styled directly from "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn." Put that in your pseudo-intellectual pipe and smoke it.
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on December 22, 2003
FLORIDA ROAD KILL only could have been written by someone with a bone deep knowledge of the State of Florida. According to the jacket blurb, author Tim Dorsey was a reporter in Tampa for many years, which explains his authority over the subject matter.
The story is kind of a caper, with the bad guy being almost--okay, more--interesting than the hero. There is a vast cast of characters, in the mode of both Charles Dickens and Tom Wolfe, all heading off in various directions until, as is inevitable, their paths collide.
Since the story is set in Florida, from Tampa to tony Palm Beach and down to South Beach, ending up in the Keys, there is plenty of money involved, and sex, and kinky sex, and drugs...and murder.
The local color is terrific; as someone who has logged a respectable share of hours myself in most of these locations, I can say that Dorsey is spot on.
Dorsey's style may be an attempt to pay homage to Hemingway. While he's not Papa, his writing has great energy and he tells a riveting tale.
I was sorry when the book concluded, and I look forward to reading the sequel.
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on June 7, 2000
Tim Dorsey has joined that small cadre of writers (Carl Hiassen, Elmore Leonard, Dave Barry) who make me laugh at the state I grew up in. FLORIDA ROADKILL is outrageous, sometimes ludicrous, but downright funny. I had to move into another room to read the book at night because my laughing kept waking my wife up. Dorsey's characters are hysterical, magnifying the best and worst of human behavior to the utter extreme. His descriptions of Florida, especially Tampa (my hometown), are so dead on I thought I was reading a travel guide. My only real issue is that the plot does take a backseat on occasion as Dorsey pulls out all the stops introducing characters, throwing them together in a neverending series of bizarre encounters, dropping them off and then picking them up again later in the narrative. It's easily forgivable, though, when you're laughing so hard at Dorsey's over-the-top descriptions that your sides hurt. I can't wait for the sequel.
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on January 24, 2001
Finding a book to read on the 30 minute commuter bus that keeps you entertained isn't always easy. "Florida Roadkill" made my commute much more enjoyable for three days. Former Tampa journalist took a gamble and left a steady paycheck for freelance writing. Looks like he made a smart leap.
The characters in Florida Road Kill are hilarious and are ready to leap off the pages. Dorsey's tale probably won't do much for Florida tourism but his familiarity of the Sunshine State made me remark "Hey I know where that place is!" more than once. You can call it a dark comedy, highway treasure hunt where the only seemingly redeeming characters get the big payoff...or do they?
Regretfully, Dorsey leaves the reader to buy his next book to find out how this one ends. I don't like this type of style but I guess if my paycheck depended on a series of semi-successful books, I might write like that, too! This book would make a great independent film. If there are any student filmmakers out there, check this read out!
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on July 17, 2008
Mr. Dorsey covers much the same terrain as Carl Hiaasen's stories but with an even more sadistic nature. He creates numerous oddball scenarios in which morally-challenged slimeballs meet their doom. I found myself repeatedly laughing despite the profusion of repugnant situations and mounting body count. A fast-paced adventure that left me continually wondering how it was going to end and who would be left standing. Mr. Dorsey's macabre lunacy is somewhat similar to Mr. Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard's works and just as enjoyable. This was the first book I have read of his, but it certainly won't be the last.
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