Tiger Shrimp Tango
Where would Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings --- as well as her classic novel, THE YEARLING --- and Tupperware parties intersect with scams, hit men, noir private eyes and vigilante killings? The answer, of course, is in a Tim Dorsey novel. One would have to be unbalanced to write this book, afflicted to read it, and delusional to understand it. Naturally, I loved almost every word of it, just as I have from the very beginning of this now-august series featuring the off-kilter brilliance of Serge A. Storms and Coleman, Storms’s stoner Everyman sidekick.
Even if you haven’t read one of these novels, I’m sure you have at least a passing familiarity with Storms and Coleman, who traverse the highways and backroads of Storms’s beloved Florida in search of wrongs to be righted and (of even greater importance) avenged in particularly unique and gory ways. TIGER SHRIMP TANGO begins with Storms in a somewhat uncharacteristic role as he attempts to be a peacemaker, bringing those of opposing political views together. He fails at this early on in the book (but keep reading until the end) and fortunately turns to more familiar territory, taking laser-like aim at a team of heartless scam artists who ratchet up the attempts to separate the innocent, unwary and unfortunate from their material goods to an entirely new level.
"One would have to be unbalanced to write this book, afflicted to read it, and delusional to understand it. Naturally, I loved almost every word of it, just as I have from the very beginning of this now-august series..."
You are really going to cheer on Storms and Coleman here, even as you know the results are going to be somewhat pre-ordained. As always, the true surprises and fun of the series are Storms’s unique presentation of his rough but (somewhat) fair justice and the occasional arcane trivia he spouts as the seemingly random wanderings of the duo brush up against the Sunshine State’s madcap history. With regard to the latter, I had not thought about Rawlings or THE YEARLING in decades until Storms provided a couple of pages worth of fascinating (and I mean fascinating) information about the author, her immortal novel, and her ties to Florida. And Tupperware? I have never really cared about Tupperware until TIGER SHRIMP TANGO, when Storms and Coleman visit the Tupperware Museum. I will never burp a container lid again without thinking of this book.
While all of these expected madcap adventures are occurring, there are some surprises waiting in the wings. Mahoney, a loquacious private investigator stuck in his own day-to-day pulp novel, is along to lend a hand. Storms is the target of an extremely capable hit man, even as he acquires and loses a new interest (though I would bet money that the deus ex machina who pulls Storms’s bacon out of the fire at the conclusion of the book will step into the uh, breach, as it were).
And of course --- yes, they’re going to be mentioned again --- Storms has some new methods of execution that you will wish you could try out. Before TIGER SHRIMP TANGO is over, you too will know how to flip a crustacean over on its back without touching it. But don’t let me spoil the surprise: read the book and find out how for yourself.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 31, 2014