Review: Killer gives the Florida Keys condo lifestyle a try

“Mermaid Confidential” by Tim Dorsey (William Morrow)

“Mermaid Confidential” is the 25th slapstick-noir novel in which Tim Dorsey chronicles the antics of obsessive-compulsive serial killer Serge Storms and his drugged-out sidekick, Coleman, as they devise fiendishly inventive ways to murder a rogues’ gallery of Florida grifters and thugs who all had it coming.

Until now, the pair has been on a manic, seemingly endless road trip through the Sunshine State while Serge pursues a series of short-lived obsessions ranging from cruising inside the peaceful eyes of hurricanes to persuading the film industry to relocate from Hollywood to Florida. This time, however, the pair quits the road to settle down in the Florida Keys to give condo living a try.

There they encounter a physician who bankrupts a couple with indefensible medical bills and investors who buy up condo units and rent them to vacationers who harass longtime tenants with pranks and loud music.

As Serge plots their demise, a drug kingpin living in a nearby mansion is targeted by a rival gang. Meanwhile, a team of thieves who don’t know who lives in the mansion are driving south from Maine to rob it. Dorsey ties the three seemingly unconnected plots together at the end in a wacky, violent conclusion.

Dorsey’s novels are apt to offend those who believe that drug abuse and grisly murders are unfit subjects for humor, but his fans find an abundance of chuckles and belly laughs in his best books including “The Big Bamboo” and “Hurricane Punch.”

The trouble with humor, however, that it has to be funny, and occasionally, Dorsey’s attempts fall flat. For the most part, “Mermaid Confidential” lacks the hilariously clever observations and satirical pokes at the weirdness of Florida that characterize his best his work.


Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”

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