Shark Skin Suite, by Tim Dorsey. William Morrow. 336 pages. Hardcover $26.99.
You will laugh so hard that you’ll fall off the plot lines. But don’t worry. Mr. Dorsey will help you get back on them, off them, and on them again. What we have here is an episodic, picaresque novel, belatedly in the tradition of “Don Quixote de la Mancha.” Serge Storms, the hero of record in Tim Dorsey’s long-running series, is a knight errant transported to contemporary Florida, a place with plenty of windmills at which to tilt. Serge doesn’t have to imagine adversaries; they are only too real. Serge is an easy-to-love homicidal maniac. His buddy Coleman is his Sancho Panza.
Okay, I’ll drop the World Lit 101 and get back to business.
Who are the bad guys of our time? Why, of course the financial institutions that gave us the mortgage foreclosure nightmare and the lawyers who struggled, sometimes unscrupulously, to defend them. Enter Brook Campanella, former flame to Serge and now a young lawyer damsel in distress. Yes, there are good guy lawyers, too, and Serge is cutting every corner so he can to pass as one.
After seeing Brook in action, a good-sized Florida firm hires her and quickly gives her a case that would seem to be beyond her. Coupled with one of the firm’s equally inexperienced staffers, Brook sets out to argue a class action case against a bank gone wild but that has powerful, corrupt legal representation. There are hints of collusion between Brook’s firm and the bank’s – is her assignment a set-up? Is she supposed to fail so that both law firms somehow win?
Guess what? She’s so darn good that she’s winning the case! That wasn’t the plan. Perhaps it would be best if she not continue. Maybe she can be discredited, or frightened, or worse. Her co-council disappears. Who’s next?
Where is Serge? He seems to be on a bender of feverish imagination and unchained impulse, often accompanied by drugged out Coleman and with a shifting retinue of other strange characters. We follow Serge as he scrambles around the state looking for the locales of his favorite set-in-Florida films (even though most were made in Hollywood studies). We observe his attempts to turn his self-induced legal education into a scheme for bringing him easy money. And we enjoy his relationship with a new buddy, an out of work journalist, as part of Mr. Dorsey’s hilarious exposé of another segment of our time’s bad guys: the greedy media outfits. . . .
To read this review in its entirely, as it appears in the February 11, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 12 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Tim Dorsey