"Atomic Lobster" drips with satire

January 18, 2008 10:34:13 AM PST
"Atomic Lobster", by Tim Dorsey: Edith Grabowski is a sexually active 91-year-old who hates being patronized. "Our hearing isn't as bad as you think," she confides.

"Blue-hair, God's waiting room, all those remarks about our driving. You know what we talk about when you're not around?

Getting in a Buick and plowing through a bunch of young people, then acting confused."

After a lethal road trip across Florida, Edith and her gaggle of geriatric gal-pals (they call themselves The G-Unit) board the cruise ship SS Serendipity in Tampa. Barely bothering to unpack, they promptly embark on a predatory quest for male companionship among the ship's buffet tables.

It is there that they encounter Serge Storms, a loveable obsessive-compulsive serial killer, and his drug-addled sidekick, Coleman.

"Atomic Lobster" is Tim Dorsey's tenth slapstick-noir novel featuring Serge, a psychopath whose only victims are jerks who will not be missed - and who delights in devising heinously creative ways to dispatch them.

Among those who get caught up the mayhem: Tex McGraw, a murderous redneck who has just been released from prison and is hell-bent on revenge. Timid Jim Davenport, who learned in "Triggerfish Twist" (2002) that the only thing worse than being Serge's enemy is being his friend. And Jim's nagging wife, Martha.

As with every Dorsey novel, the story drips with satire, overflows with Florida lore and is so wacky and chaotic that the plot cannot be summarized. Plot points include the reunion barbecue of a drunken criminal clan, a disasterous house-sitting job, international drug trafficking, a plot against national security, the smuggling of ancient Mexican artifacts, a government coverup of mysterious murders, a tsunami, an ill-fated wedding, a stripper and Coleman's attempt to build the world's biggest bong.

Somehow, it all ends up making sense. Sort of.

Dorsey opened an earlier book, "Hurricane Punch" (2007) with this anonymous quote: "It's only funny until someone gets hurt - then it's hilarous."

Clearly, "Atomic Lobster" is not for everyone. But if you think The Three Stooges would have been funnier if Moe, Larry and Curley used chainsaws and automatic weapons, Tim Dorsey is your kind of writer.


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