Been There, Done That
Tim Dorsey is an American novelist of mystery and humor, but we will get to that. Along with being a talented and successful writer, Tim Dorsey is also a very interesting person himself. So, I want to talk about his life for a bit. He was born in nineteen-sixty-seven in Indiana and was taken to Florida just after a year. He grew up in the Riviera Beach of Palm Beach County, surrounded by the beautiful ocean.
After getting high school out of the way, Tim went on to study at Auburn University. This was the first place he had gotten a taste of writing as he became an editor for the student newspaper “The Auburn Plainsman”. His real journey would start after his graduation in nineteen-eighty-three though, as he went through multiple reporter jobs including a police reporter position and a political one. He would then quit reporting to fully commit to his writing.
Best Tim Dorsey Books
The Serge Storms Series is definitely the most iconic work of Tim Dorsey. From the start of his career and up until now, he almost exclusively wrote about Serge A. Storms. He has racked up twenty-five books In the series so far with the last one having been published this January. In fact, he has published a book every year since nineteen-ninety-nine. In this article, we will go over the first ten of these Tim Dorsey books in chronological order.
To start off the article, I will give you a little taste of one of the best selling Tim Dorsey books. Triggerfish Twist was published in two thousand two as the fourth book by the novelist despite being the first in terms of internal chronology. The funny story behind that is that Tim Dorsey wanted to use some of the characters whom he had killed off in earlier books.
The story kicks off with Serge Storms and two of his friends moving to a new house after their accidental vandalization of a historical site. Serge quickly makes friends with their new neighbor Jim. Unbeknownst to him, Jim Davenport had killed someone he very much should not have. Even though the law is on their side as the murder was justified, the two brothers of the victim are just about to get out of jail.
Getting to Know the Legend
I think this is a very nice book to get to know Storms a little. We are first shown his friendly and easy-going side by the interactions he has with his friends and the sex tips he gives to his experienced neighbor. After that of course, we have quite a few seconds to witness him going about his usual blood-filled, primal ravage. Definitely one of the best Tim Dorsey books for starters.
Second on our list, we have another one of the most popular Tim Dorsey books Florida Roadkill. It is the first book published by the author and it is also the reason why he left his successful career as a reporter. In terms of narrative, it picks up just a little while after the events of the first book. The book itself is sort of like an introduction to Serge and his friends.
The original trio of main characters is; Serge A. Storms who is a firm believer in not taking his psych meds, his partner Coleman whose only love bigger than cartoons is drugs, and the majestic stripper Sharon Rhodes who I can best describe as a Floridan Femme Fatale with a lot of coke on top. And in the story, we will watch as these ungodly individuals face two good samaritans for a prize of five million stolen dollars.
Gift That Keeps on Giving
Florida Roadkill is a gift that just keeps on giving. You would be wise to not spend all your laughter on a single joke because there will always be a better one just around the corner. I am also absolutely in love with the unhinged and impulse-driven characters. They just manage to put a warm smile on your face despite how messed up they are. On another note, it’s among the Tim Dorsey books made into movies, so maybe give it a shot.
The third place in the best Tim Dorsey series belongs to Hammerhead Ranch Motel, in which we will find Serge exactly where we left him off in Florida Roadkill. The trio we talked about earlier is not included in this book but there is still a varying range of side characters who serve their purpose well. I should also mention that the book’s timeline is not linear and there are a lot of switches.
Hammerhead Ranch Motel is all about showcasing some of the vilest specimens of our lovely Florida and putting them through hilarious situations. Hilarious for us, at least. There are unemployed gigolos, the police force planting an undercover cop in an undercover cop ring, a Porsche getting absolutely demolished by a truck, and of course, Serge A. Storms who is still as violent and still looking for the five million.
A Great Job
Believe it or not, I find the trope of “random events happening at a motel/apartment complex” to be common and often mishandled. Dorsey, however, does a great job of handling all the shifts in focus, time, and narration. There is not a bit in this piece that I found was excessive or unnecessary. This one gets a place among the best books by Tim Dorsey without a doubt.
Bringing you banger after banger, I will next introduce you to one of the top rated Tim Dorey books that is The Stringray Shuffle. And wouldn’t you know it? Our beloved serial killer is still after the five million dollars that he has knowledge of being moved all around the Eastern Seabord, cheekily waiting for him to come and grab it.
This time around, Serge travels all the way up to New York to get a better whiff of a certain duffle bag filled with money. We learn about a book titled “The Stingray Shuffle” which was written about ten years ago and experiences a huge blow-up in sales, seemingly out of nowhere. But it’s not without a reason, a cartel has been shipping their cocaine in these books.
Experimenting With Style
Of course, with a scheme as absurd and interesting as this, Storms just has to take a bite out of it. The result is maybe the most original book of the series so far. The book inside of a book concept that is used for The Stingray Shuffle provides an excellent ground for the author to experiment with his style. I would not be far off if I said this is the best Tim Dorsey book so far.
I will be continuing this Tim Dorsey books ranked list with the fifth adventure of Storms, the Orange Crush. The reason I mentioned Orange Crush as the fifth book in the series is that the author makes this piece memorable with a heavy shift in the focus of the story. While our half-crazy, half-vigilante Serge Storms is a part of the book, the story does not revolve around him.
The Ironic Struggle of a Changed Man
The plot of the book was planned to be a parodical take on the United States’ political and juridical systems. At the heart of the story lies Florida Lt. Governor Marlon Conrad, once an uncaring and spoilt politician whose eyes open up during a military campaign. When he turns back home and tries to change his ways though, the ridiculous situations he finds himself in will be our entertainment.
This piece is very much a standalone novel. The appearance of Serge and the actual impact he has had in the story carry almost no relevance that he can be thought of as a cameo. What I really liked about it was the political implications and the author’s choice to carry out his satire in a somewhat objective fashion. Even still, I would not title it the best Tim Dorsey book.
The sixth one of the Serge Storms books series in order of both narrative and publication is Cadillac Beach. It is actually the first book with these matching orders and all of the books after it are direct sequels, meaning Cadillac Beach was the sorting-out point for the series. Following its predecessor Orange Crush, it also touches on serious topics which this time around are the FBI, CIA, and gangs.
Everything starts with Serge breaking out of Chattahoochee State Hospital because of his newly found desire to inspect the nineteen-sixty-four death of his bookie grandfather. He is partnered with his loyal buddy Coleman who is as drugged out of his mind as ever. They will form the best duo to find out the secrets of a covered-up diamond heist and build the best specialty tour venture.
Not Ignoring the Characters
Coleman is one of my favorite characters in the series and I am always happy to see him tag along with Serge without a sensible reason or goal. Beyond that, I liked how the author decided to not ignore his beloved characters while he is handling serious topics. These things can go hand in hand anyways and this book is one of the many proofs. Cadillac Beach is very close to being my personal best Tim Dorsey novel.
Torpedo Juice is the seventh piece of the series and it is also one of the best rated Tim Dorsey books. So yeah, it is a fan favorite and we will be deciding if it is our favorite as well in this section. It also includes my main guy Coleman although he comes into the play a little late. I think the most notable aspect of this piece is the focus on Serge’s emotional world.
The plot of Torpedo Juice kicks off with Serge, whom I have run out of adjectives to describe, getting himself out in the market for a “Ms. Right”. You would think this task would be a walk in the park considering Serge is a fun guy with a great personality and sense of humor. However, the duo comes across many hardships and is often sidetracked.
Focusing on the Protagonist
I can clearly understand why Torpedo Juice would be considered one of the best Tim Dorsey novels. It recognizes itself for what it truly is and focuses on the complexity of its hilarious protagonist. This is not to say the series should be all about Serge, but it is nice to get to know him a little more. This quality also makes the novel extremely satisfying for an invested reader.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the next participant of our Tim Dorsey book list to the page; The Big Bamboo! If you are sensing that I am hyped for this piece, you are absolutely right. It takes after Torpedo Juice and focuses more on Storms and most importantly, it does so with a much more exciting prompt as I will share with you.
Bummed out about not having found a wife, Serge is on the search for bigger things to do in life. You know how it is, after all; you either get married, have some kids, build a happy home, or get out there and compensate for you loneliness by being exceptional. Coleman and Serge take off towards Hollywood to present projects set in the Sunshine State, drink some tea with Yakuza, and of course, tweak out some bad weeds.
A Man With A Purpose, Amen!
The thing about satirical characters is that you will not often see them being passionate about something. Most of the time, they are either after a rush or in trouble. In this one of the best novels by Tim Dorsey, he shows us through his vast wisdom that psychopaths can dream too. It is really sweet to see a “mindless” character set a motive for themselves, regardless of its magnitude or relevance.
Nearing the end of our best Tim Dorsey book series article, I want to introduce you to Hurricane Punch. I think this is a good time to mention that the name Serge Storms is a storm-related pun as well, referring to a storm surge or better known as a tidal surge. Given that Florida takes up massive space in the setting of the book, storms are expectedly no strangers.
Summers in Florida are nefariously known as storm seasons. One of these summers, Florida experiences a disturbance in its waters not in the form of a hurricane but in the form of a truckload of corpses. While Serge aka the protector of all that is good and/or Florida is dead-set on bringing justice to the ocean, a criminal profiler completely obsessed with him is out of his mental institution and dares to put the blame on him!
Mad Vigilante at its Best
In Hurricane Punch, we have another yet more subtle example of giving Storms a bigger motive. We have always known he is violently loyal to his questionable moral compass, but it was just pushed to the side and used for a comedic effect for the majority. This time around, he gives him the villain and the struggles of a real hero. With this, Hurricane Punch holds an essential place in this list of Tim Dorsey book reviews.
The duty of closing shop for this article falls to Atomic Lobster, the tenth book in the twenty-five-piece long series as well as the latest Tim Dorsey book that we have on the list. Coincidentally, it is also kind of a celebratory piece too. The book includes almost all of the big characters we have seen in the series with the exception of the dead ones but thinking now, that could be very interesting as well.
Let the Wisest One Rule
Anyways, I will not spoil the characters for you but I will share the story. Serge decides to hijack his local “Anger Management” group in a fit of rage, which sings in brilliant irony. As a master of the anger subject, he forms his very own “Fight Club” to provide a space where the members can express their anger in a safe space without any judgment… or remorse.
I can not say anything about Tim Dorsey’s new book except that it is brilliant. I have always thought of Fight Club as a study on -or at least on parts of- male psychology and it is nice to see other writers exploring the subject. It is all the more interesting to put a highly reactive and unstable person like Serge in a similar setting.
The Serge A. Storms series speaks volumes for the creative potential and quality of writing of Tim Dorsey. He chooses his more terrifying than exciting hometown as the setting, uses characters who are begging to derail the plot, and still manages to put out such great stories. Not only that, he can even touch on some of the most sensible and serious topics of the United States in these same stories. I would say that is a sight to behold.
Alissa is an avid reader, blogger, and wannabe writer. (She's a much better cook than a writer actually). Alissa is married, has one human, one feline, and two canine kids. She always looks a mess and never meets a deadline.