Coconut Cowboy, by Tim Dorsey. William Morrow. 336 pages. Hardback $25.99.
This is Serge Storms Series book 19, but who’s counting? Mr. Dorsey’s long-running series gets nuttier and nuttier, but who’s complaining? The author is probably not crazy, but he is certifiable, as is his main character Serge and Serge’s sidekick Coleman. Coleman never met an intoxicant he didn’t like. Serge is a bit more discriminating – or pretends to be. You want some laughs as the expense of Florida’s dignity? This your chance.
Where is the American Dream? That is the question that Serge, sometimes underemployed as a serial killer, has set for himself and his comrade. He hopes to find it in the past; in particular, in the idealistic and idealized 1960s. How do you get to the past? You get off the highways and get onto the back roads that take you through small town America. How do you make this trip? Just like the “Easy Rider” searchers – on motorbikes. In this case, a motorbike with a sidecar.
Mr. Dorsey pays exquisite, zany, and yet sincere homage to the American counterculture classic film, with Serge casting himself and Coleman as the film’s Captain America and Billy. What they find in the small towns they sample is corruption. And because Serge and his creator are obsessive Floridaphiles, they find a ton of that small town corruption in the novel’s major creation – Wobbly, Florida. Wobbly is at once the exemplary American small town, though not a positive example, and the quintessence of Mr. Dorsey’s rural Florida.
What’s going on? Well, the first homes in a new housing development are disappearing into sinkholes attributed to subterranean aquifer pumping gone wild. Engineering reports and insurance issues and investigations of wrongdoing reach the highest circles – which in a small town are not very high. It’s all about who pays off whom to get away with what.
Money accumulated for that special kind of laundering that is illegal is found buried. Narcotics have brought the money into Wobbly, but how is it going to get out? And in whose pockets?
The city leaders, notably the mayor, have managed a narrow land annexation that has been put to good economic use as a speed trap. But whose economy has been enhanced? There are no reliable financial accounts or reporting procedures. There are no audits when nothing is available to audit. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 3, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 4 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlottte, Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter, and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Coconut Cowboy which also includes signing events.