Friday, March 16, 2012

Fiction Friday: Florida Roadkill

Florida Roadkill, (HarperCollins, 1999)
As a resident of the Sunshine State, it's always nice to be reading a book and see areas I've actually been, mentioned within.  Tim Dorsey's Florida Roadkill not only offers this opportunity for anyone living in Florida, but is a masterful screwball novel.

Florida Roadkill follows the misadventures of mentally unbalanced criminal, Serge Storms.  When Serge gets off his medication, he rants and raves (usually about Florida) until he passes out and often does not remember these episodes.  A devout student of everything Florida, he often expounds upon the history of the state in every locale to which he travels. And travel, he does.  Serge hits the road with his former prison cell mate and a stripper named Sharon, who's contantly looking to score more cocaine.

But Serge and co. are not the only interesting characters within these pages. Readers will also meet a trio of the worst bikers ever, an enforcer at a condominium community, and a straight edged district attorney.  And then there's the Cuban mafia and the running of the Hemingways in the Keys to add to the wackiness.

Be warned, though.  Though it is a screwball novel with plenty of humor, this is a crime novel at heart.  There's plenty of violence here. And with violence comes death.  Characters will die in this novel, as often happens to those who play fast and loose with the rules of law.

This is the first in a series of novels Dorsey has written featuring Serge Storms.  After reading it, I definitely want to look into the rest of the books.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fiction Friday: Lost Echoes

So, I'm a little late to the Joe R. Lansdale train, but I'm sure glad I boarded.  In Lost Echoes, Lansdale takes readers on a thrill ride in a Texas small town with just the right mix of supernatural flavoring and zen spices. The main character is Harry Wilkes, who as a boy became ill and lost hearing in one of his ears.  One day there's an explosion of pus and suddenly Harry can hear again. But now he can also hear psychic visions, trapped in sounds at various places.  This seems to occur mainly with violent acts like murder and domestic violence and when he experiences it for the first time, when he and childhood friends Kayla and Joey go to an abandoned honky tonk to see where a woman was murdered, it knocks him for a loop.

Flash forward to Harry in college. He's got all the "bad spots" in town mapped out, so he knows what places to avoid in order to keep from experiencing these visions, which for him, are terrifying not only because of what he sees, but because he feels the emotions of those in the visions as well.  For him, it is all too real.

Naturally, he turns to alcohol as a refuge.

One night, while at a bar, he follows a drunk and three men he believes are about to mug the drunk, into the back alley.  He arrives in the alleyway just in time to see the drunk take out all three of his assailants with some type of martial arts.  Harry makes a new friend in Tad, and soon enough, the two resolve to help each other stop drinking and find one another's center.

If things weren't getting interesting enough, Harry's childhood sweetheart, Kayla returns to town, joining the local police force.  Unfortunately for Harry, he's dating one of the richest girls in town at the time.  If this weren't conflict enough, Harry has a vision that details a murder, prior to a makeout session with his current girlfriend, Talia, and the police are called to the scene, one of whom is Kayla.

This leads to a series of events that put Harry and friends in danger from the person responsible for the murder Harry witnessed in the vision.  Reading how they manage their way through it is a thrilling ride.  I'll certainly be reading more of Lansdale's fiction.