Saturday, February 02, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Atomic Lobster by Tim Dorsey

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Atomic Lobster by Tim Dorsey. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Atomic Lobster by Tim DorseyBuy from Amazon.com

Atomic Lobster by
A Serge A. Storms Mystery

William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-082969-9 (0060829699)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-082969-8 (9780060829698)
Publication Date: January 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Why is everyone rushing to flee on a cruise ship to hell?

Serge is back with a bullet, torn between homicide and souvenirs. So is Coleman, torn between getting hammered and getting more hammered. Then there's good ol' Jim Davenport, the E-Team, the Diaz Brothers, and Johnny Vegas, the Accidental Virgin, cranking up the fevered action as the pot boils over on a street called Lobster Lane.

It's reunion time in the Sunshine State, and we're not just talking the family jamboree of that blood-soaked criminal clan, the McGraws, whose nastiest, meanest member is finally released from prison and heads south bent on revenge. On top of it all, the government is covering up a growing list of mysterious victims across Florida who may or may not be connected to a nefarious plot being hatched against national security.

But wait! There's more on the horizon! Who is the oddly familiar femme fatale named Rachael? Is Serge wrong that guns, drugs, and strippers don't mix? What sets the Non-Confrontationalists off on a rampage? What finally brings Coleman and Lenny together? Will they succeed in building the biggest bong ever? And can Serge surf a rogue wave to victory?

So batten the hatches, don the life jackets, and take cover as all these questions and more are answered in this latest adventure.

Review: Tim Dorsey's 10th novel to feature the audacious, ever so reasoned if not always reasonable, adventures of Serge Storms, Atomic Lobster, has the Florida psychopath protecting his old pal Jim Davenport from the McGraw brothers, one of which Jim helped send to prison.

To fans of the series, an overview of the plot is probably not necessary since it's likely they read the books to see in which outrageous mission Serge is currently participating or in what ingenious way Serge kills his next victim. And Serge does not disappoint. For new readers, the plot is definitely secondary to the action and vaguely involves Serge acting as a mentor/protector to Jim Davenport when he's targeted by a newly released prisoner, and old ladies on a cruise ship that may be the transport vehicle for drugs (or something more sinister) from Mexico to the US. It's not quite a mystery in the whodunit sense, but there are several other elements present that would firmly place this book in that category.

The brilliance of Atomic Lobster (and yes, it is frequently brilliant) is how Dorsey carefully choreographs the activities of the large number of characters in his story and how their lives intersect in myriad ways that seem natural ... almost expected. Serge may be a cold-blooded killer, but he's a compassionate one. Those that are condemned to die deserve it (in his universal role as prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, and jury), but he usually gives them an opportunity to live albeit at some, often considerable, cost. It's all quite fascinating to read and oddly compelling.

Of the two parallel storylines, one involving Serge and Jim Davenport and the other involving the cruise ship that is largely independent of Serge, the former is more interesting, arguably more entertaining, and appears to be better thought through. The latter seems almost contrived as if it exists only so that the unexpected twist at the end (which isn't all that unexpected) can occur. The G-unit, however, make it somewhat worthwhile.

The final quarter of the book isn't nearly as strong as what comes before possibly because the various plots and subplots need to rapidly converge. The narrative is more perfunctory and loses much of its earlier edginess. And the epilogue seems particularly silly. Still, there are many funny scenes and clever passages in Atomic Lobster and, though it is definitely not a book for everyone, it is a terrific book for those who can appreciate its often satirical humor.

Special thanks to HarperCollins for providing a copy of Atomic Lobster for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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