GATOR A-GO-GO couldn’t come at a better time. It’s
January, temperatures are barely breaking the single digits, the
sun is but a memory, and the front yard is buried under snow ---
even in Louisiana. That means it’s time for another Serge A.
Storm tale from Tim Dorsey.
Serge A. Storm is fiction’s most likable and prolific
serial killer. His stomping grounds are the square miles inside the
boundaries of the State of Florida, the land he passionately loves.
His targets consist of the rude, the obnoxious, and those who would
otherwise despoil his beloved state. And his methods of execution
--- well, I’m not even going to attempt to describe how he
does it. Suffice to say that his devices never fail to be lethal
and always give the victim a (slim) chance to escape alive, if not
unscathed. Coleman, Serge’s sidekick, is a hoot as well,
always in search of the ultimate high as a counterpoint to
Serge’s strict sobriety.
GATOR A-GO-GO finds Serge attempting to film a documentary about
everything. Yes, everything. Fortunately, he maintains focus just
enough to concentrate on the American ritual known as Spring Break.
Part of the attraction of these novels has always been
Dorsey’s penchant for incorporating factoids about the
Sunshine State into the storyline. He continues the practice
full-tilt in GATOR A-GO-GO, including the how, where and why of how
Spring Break began and the changes in locale it has experienced
over the course of the decades, as well as a clear-headed (or not
so much) look at the flora and fauna populating the beaches. But
the party doesn’t really begin until Serge and
Coleman show up. When they do, they cross paths with a group of
college students from New Hampshire, one of whom is being hunted by
a crime gang.
Andy McKenna was barely five years old when his family was taken
into the witness protection program; now, with their cover suddenly
and irretrievably blown by an act of kindness, the crime gang that
should have been brought down by the elder McKenna’s
testimony is out for revenge. At first, Andy is blissfully unaware
that anyone is after him; when he learns he is being pursued, he
doesn’t know who to trust. Never fear --- he is now under the
protection of Serge A. Storm.
Darkly and wonderfully hilarious, GATOR A-GO-GO functions not
only as an emotional respite following a session of snow shoveling
but also as a triptych for things to see and places to go in
Florida, both on and off the beaten path. And if you have sampled
Dorsey’s work before and perhaps found it a bit too manic,
you should check out this book. While it remains Dorsey’s
wont to jump around a bit chaotically at the beginning of his
tales, he has continued the practice, instituted a couple of novels
ago, of (barely) reining himself in, so that the plots, once and
always convoluted and over the top, are a bit easier to follow and
much more enjoyable. And for added fun, GATOR A-GO-GO is ---
believe it or not --- a flip book: you can watch an alligator at
the bottom of the page slowly rise up and devour the title
repeatedly as the book progresses.
Oh, and that Florida trivia. In addition to everything you
wanted to know about Spring Break, GATOR A-GO-GO also contains the
secret of what got which Florida rock music icon on the path to
stardom, a wink and a nod to various movies filmed, and --- most
significantly of all --- reveals the source that Serge utilizes for
all his obscure Florida information. You’re going to have to
read the book to find out what it is, but I’ll warn you in
advance that its website is a real time bandit.
Anyone who has ever stepped foot in Florida, either on an
interminable family vacation or in the drunken haze between college
semesters, will love GATOR A-GO-GO. It’s the best of
Dorsey’s lot thus far. Go for it.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011