Formulae can be a good thing - sometimes. Babies drink them, scientists concoct them, and moviemakers repeat them. And authors follow them. But following them too closely leads to uninspired writing.
Dorsey, working here on his tenth novel, found a blueprint and has used it from the beginning. Ever since he introduced loveable psychopath Serge Storms and his perpetually stoned sidekick, Coleman, in
Florida Roadkill and Hammerhead Ranch Motel and his other early novels, the author from Florida has rarely strayed off his literary path. The books are inevitably set in/around Florida, they always involve multiple characters either chasing after something or someone - usually each other - and there is always a sense of fun and caution
thrown to the wind. It is the electric and chaotic Sturm und Drang of Hunter S. Thompson mixed with the detective zaniness of Carl Hiaasen. And, for many books, that combo worked.
But it is not effective here and has really been losing momentum over the course of Dorsey's last couple outings.
Everything is so predictable, not a desired element in a book borrowing from the detective genre. Serge no longer shocks
- even when he is force-feeding a fire hydrant down someone's mouth - and Coleman has taken every drug and swallowed every type of alcohol ever distilled.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is a difficult and dangerous gambit. No one is saying that Tim needs to start writing
Westerns, but he does need to find some alternate literary avenues. Hopefully he will because the talent is there - now the desire must follow.