I couldn't shake the feeling that Dorsey wrote this book with the full intention of pushing everything Hiaasen wrote to the next level of wacky mayhem. Dorsey makes the wildest most deviant scene ever concocted by Hiaasen seem plausible. Characters are killed, maimed or lost in the maze of plotting so quickly that I was challenged frequently to keep up with who is who and what was what. Subplots are conceived, abandoned, and reignited many, many pages later. When thinking about the plot of this novel I kept seeing images of William S. Burroughs art.
Burroughs finished out his days living in Lawrence, Kansas and started producing art not with a paint brush, but with a shotgun. He would set up aerosol cans of paint various distances from the canvas and blast away. I'm sure it kept him in bread and milk.
Our hero is a serial killer named Serge Storms (just a word of advice he's a bit prickly about being called a serial killer). After a jolt in jail at a young age, Serge's moral compass was permanently set to spin. He can kill people without blinking an eye, but when his friend in a acid addled haze shoots an endangered miniature Key Deer in the Florida Keys, Storms is distraught. I was left scratching my head that Serge didn't take the opportunity to rid himself of the albatross his friend Seymore Coleman Bunsen was becoming at this point in the plot.
There is a paragraph that is vintage Hunter S. Thompson and also explains Coleman."What's that? More Crank?" said Serge.
"No," said Coleman, "blow," and leaned over to take his turn.
"Shit, every day it's something else," said Serge.
"If it's Thursday, this must be cocaine," Coleman replied.
"One day it's meth, another day psilocybin; you drop acid on Sunday and Percodan on Monday," said Serge. "Then it's Thai sticks. And what about the time you boiled those flowers that were supposed to be like Aborigines' curare darts? Can't you just pick a drug and stick with it?"
Coleman said, completely serious: "I don't want to get hooked."
To keep myself centered with the lurching, spinning plot of Florida Roadkill I had to remind myself that everything was revolving around the briefcase of money. $5 million dollars in scammed insurance money to be exact.
I do like Serge Storms's obsession with Florida history. Dorsey uses this effectively to give the reader some cool Florida factoids that will be handy the next time we visit on vacation. It also lifted Serge above the stereotypical killer and gave the reader a reason to like Serge beyond his fascinating ingenuity (fix-a-flat can as deadly weapon?)in ushering morons and bad people out of this world and onto the next."Serge's interest in history, architecture, nature and all things Key West made him buzz around the island like a moth on speed."
Dorsey gives a nod to James W. Hall, Thomas McGuaneand John D. MacDonald. Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry both make cameo appearances in the novel, and thank goodness Serge was reverential rather than homicidal when he met them. The book left me feeling like I'd been left by the side of a dirt road, with blood caked nostrils, and a nasty hitch in my giddy up. Dazed, confused, and yet still game to get back in the car and read the next installment Hammerhead Ranch Motel. It also left me with a hankering for some time with the coolest guy to ever walk out of a Florida novel.