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Book Review: Atomic Lobster by Tim Dorsey

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I’ve got a new hero! And a brand-new series to read! But I don’t think most people are going to appreciate him as much as I do, or even be twisted enough to get the gonzo humor involved. Nor will most appreciate that hero’s penchant for taking people toilet snorkeling when they disagree with him.

His name is Serge A. Storms, and he’s a spree killer. However, before you go thinking too terribly of him, I point out that Serge’s victims are only evil people. He only kills the bad guys, and generally then only after being provoked or they don’t take his first warning. He’s manic depressive but tends to stay on the “up” side of life, which makes him an uncharacteristically happy kind of guy.

Of course, being a spree killer and having a tendency to kill someone with plenty of malice but no real aforethought kind of limits the friends and romances he can have. Serge hangs with the lowlifes, like drug-bingeing Coleman in this novel (who is an absolute riot as well) and Rachel (a down-on-her-luck prostitute with a really serious drug jones). But Serge’s heart is always in the right place, always willing to look after society and the environment and his friends.

One of those friends puts in an appearance in this novel. Jim Davenport, the much heckled and timid mouse of a man, has been in previous novels – where he and Serge first struck up their “friendship.” In this book, Jim gets menaced by Tex McGraw, a man Jim testified against ten years ago who has now gotten out of prison and plans to enact his revenge. He even has a list. The police know this because Tex said, “I’ve got a list.”

In addition to Serge, Coleman, and Jim, there are four older women who refer to themselves as the G-Unit. They’re not big on sobriety or rules, and use their age as a catch-all defense against people who want to hold them accountable for what they’ve done.

Tim Dorsey has written ten Serge books so far, and Atomic Lobster is the latest. You don’t have to read the earlier books first. Feel free to dive right in with this one. I did. Then I bought earlier books and put them in my TBR pile because I gotta read more.

Before turning to bestselling author, Dorsey was a newspaper writer down in Florida. It seems like a lot of our bestselling authors come from there (Dave Barry, Carl Hiaasen) or move there (Elmore Leonard), and they all end up with twisted senses of humor. I do know that Dorsey carves out a tract of macabre real estate that’s completely his own.

I had a bit of a struggle when I first started to read the book because it doesn’t start out linearly. Dorsey seems to like to show you some results of actions you haven’t read about yet, then double back and let you – in disbelief, I might add – watch how it all happened. And it isn’t always what you think it’s going to be.

Describing the plot would be a pathetic waste of time. What there is, and it is incredibly thin, is so convoluted that I’d have to give away so much of the fun you have waiting on you that I’m not even going to try. You’ll have to read for yourself how Coleman and Lenny (one of Serge’s buddies from earlier novels) get together to build the biggest bong, and how they burned a house down doing it. How Serge ends up going frogman gigging in the middle of the night. How Serge exacts vengeance on Tex McGraw for trying to kill Jim.

But most of all, you have to see what happens when Serge gets sent by his psychiatrist to an anger management meeting. Then sent to the NonConfrontationists meeting. How he ends up producing videos of Clowns versus Mimes. I was laughing out loud to the point my wife was asking me what was going on, and when I tried to give her the shorthand version – without her truly getting to appreciate Serge – she was convinced she’d married a madman.

Get a copy of Atomic Lobster and prepare to get carried away on a wave of incredible zaniness. If you’ve read Dorsey and Serge before, you know what you’re in for. And if you’re like me and you haven’t, take joy in the fact that you’ve got nine other books ahead of you!

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