Cover image for Florida roadkill : a novel
Florida roadkill : a novel
Dorsey, Tim.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, 1999.
Physical Description:
273 pages ; 25 cm
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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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The rabid fans of Florida Roadkill have been clamoring for answers: What happened to the hyperactive spree killer and fanatical Florida folklorist Serge A. Stormes and that $5 million in laundered drug cash? Now they can check into the sleazy Hammerhead Ranch Motel to find out.

One of the last old beach motels in the path of an advancing column of glistening new condominiums marching up the Gulf Coast shoreline, Hammerhead Ranch has a budget price and charming deterioration that make it a magnet for colorful clientele with seedy baggage. It's here where all the players ultimately converge -- along with the elusive (some say cursed) Haliburton with the $5 million -- for a final showdown during a killer hurricane. Add a dancing television weather dog, a shotgun-totin' grandma, two sex-and-drug-crazed coeds on the lam, a crew of storm-jumpers straight out of Airplane, and assorted other Floridian flotsam and the result is Dorsey's next great blockbuster.

Author Notes

Tim Dorsey was born in Indiana in 1961. He received a B.S. in transportation from Auburn University in 1983. From 1983 to 1987, he was a police and courts reporter for The Alabama Journal. He joined The Tampa Tribune in 1987 as a general assignment reporter. He also worked as a political reporter in the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau and a copy desk editor. From 1994 to 1999, he was the Tribune's night metro editor. He left the paper in August 1999 to become a full time writer. He is the author of the Serge Storms series.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Imagine the violence of Edna Buchanan married to the skewed worldview of Dave Barry; now you're ready to meet Tim Dorsey, whose dark yet wildly funny first novel recounts several months in the lives of about 15 losers who are lower on the criminal food chain than even an Elmore Leonard character. Take the insurance executive who has turned to money laundering to save his failing business after Hurricane Andrew; or the three thug wanna-bes who end up as vigilantes defending a community of senior citizens against their rapacious landlord; or take Serge and Coleman, who can only be described as Cheech and Chong with guns. What ties these characters together is the seventh game of the 1997 World Series in which the Florida Marlins defeated the Cleveland Indians in extra innings. Dorsey's delightful novel belongs in the hands of anyone who likes the mix of Florida setting and black humor in the work of Leonard, Carl Hiaasen, and Laurence Shames (see p.1485). --George Needham

Publisher's Weekly Review

This dizzying road movie of a first novel follows a passel of comic con men (and one con woman) down and around the Florida coast. Their adventures involve deliciously caricatured characters along with delirious violence, not to mention pigeon-eating maniacs, cocaine, traffic jams, biker gangs, hot-tub accidents, mock-Satanic heavy metal bands, partially frozen crocodilians, the World Series and the space shuttle. Serge and Coleman are roommates, manic ne'er-do-wells trying to fashion a living from crime and adventure. Sexy Sharon Rhodes murders magnates for their life insurance. On the run after her last hit, she meets Serge and Coleman, and the trio start a crime spree. Former millionaire George Veale has just been released from prison when he absconds with a suitcase of drug money. The cash belongs to insurance CEO Charles Saffron, who hires sleazy private investigator Mo Grenadine to get it back. (Mo is also a corrupt right-wing state legislator and a gay-baiting talk radio host.) Serge and Coleman (themselves remotely connected to drug cartels) get wind of the suitcase and scheme for the cash. Sharon wants in on the caper, too, whether or not the two men planned it that way. Dorsey's cast of dangerous oddballs chase, rob, shoot and kill their way from Tampa to the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas, until their raucous evasion of law catches up with them. Dorsey is a newspaperman by trade (at the Tampa Tribune), and his sentence rhythm can be crisply journalistic: "Wilbur Putzenfus was losing hair on top and working the comb-over. No tan. No tone.... Spiro Agnew without the power." Floridian readers may laugh or wince as Dorsey skewers the state's foibles and stereotypes. But he can abandon his verbal dexterity and his social observation to get a quick laugh or a quick jolt of violence: as a result, his satire seems less serious than it might be. Admirers of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen will note their influences here; as entertainment, this rollicking, over-the-top novel is a blast. Agent, Nat Sobel. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this debut, lots of people are after a suitcase full of money that got dropped in the wrong car: two bad guys, one obsessed with Florida history (the setting is Miami) and another with cocaine; one lady, whos also a killer; and the good-guy lawyer. Dorsey is night news coordinator of the Tampa Tribune, so expect good detail. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Florida Roadkill A Novel Chapter One Eleven months before the World Series, in November, the start of the tourist season, the beaches off St. Petersburg were jammed with pasty people. As always, Sharon Rhodes knew every eye was on her as she walked coyly along the edge of the surf, twirling a bit of hair with a finger. A volleyball game stopped. Footballs and Frisbees fell in the water. Guys lost track of conversations with their wives and got socked. She was the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition in person. Six feet tall, gently curling blonde hair cascading over her shoulders and onto the top of her black bikini. She had a Carnation Milk face with high cheekbones and a light dusting of freckles. Her lips were full, pouty and cruel in the way that makes men drive into buildings. She stopped as if to think, stuck an index finger in her lips and sucked. Men became woozy. She turned and splashed out into three feet of water and dunked herself. When she came up, she shook her head side to side, flinging wet blonde hair, and thrust out her nipples. There was nothing in Sharon a man wanted to love, caress or defend. This was tie-me-up-and-hurt-me stuff, everything about her shouting at a man, "I will destroy all that is dear to YOU," and the man says, "Yes, please." Wilbur Putzenfus was losing hair on top and working the comb-over. No tan. No tone. A warrior of the business cubicle, with women he was socially retarded. Spiro Agnew without the power. A hundred and fifty pounds of unrepentant geek-on-wheels. Sharon threw her David Lee Roth beach towel down next to his, lay on her stomach and untied her top. Wilbur studied Sharon with a series of stolen glimpses that wouldn't have been so obvious if they hadn't been made through the viewfinder of a camcorder. When Wilbur ran out of videotape Sharon raised up on her elbows, tits hanging, and said to him in a low, husky voice, "I like to do it in public. Wilbur was apoplectic. Sharon replaced her top and stood up. She reached down, took Wilbur by the hand and tried to get him to his feet, but his legs didn't work right, Bambi's first steps. She walked him over to the snack bar and showers. Against a thicket of hibiscus was one of those plywood cutouts, the kind with a hole that tourists stick their faces through for snapshots. This one had a large cartoon shark swallowing a tourist feet first. The tourist wore a straw hat, had a camera hanging from a strap around his neck, and was banging on the shark's snout. The bushes shielded the backside of the plywood from public view, but the front faced heavy foot traffic on the boardwalk. Sharon told Wilbur to put his face in the hole, and he complied. She told him not to take his head out of the hole or she would permanently stop what she was doing. She pulled his plaid bathing trunks to his ankles, kneeled down and applied her expertise. Some of the guys from the volleyball game had been following Sharon like puppy dogs, and they peeked behind the plywood. Then they walked around the front of the cutout and stood on the sidewalk, pointing and laughing at Wilbur. Word spread. The crowd was over a hundred by the time Wilbur's saliva started to meringue around his mouth. His eyes came unplugged and rolled around in their sockets, and he made sounds like Charlie Callas. Finally, nearing crescendo, Wilbur stared bug-eyed at the crowd and yelled between shallow breaths, "WILL ... YOU... MAR-RY... ME?" "Yeth," came the answer from behind the plywood, a female voice with a mouth full, and the crowd cheered. Wilbur Putzenfus, a claims executive with a major Tampa Bay HMO, was not an ideal catch. But he could provide a comfortable life. Wilbur's job was to deny insurance claims filed with the Family First Health Maintenance Organization ("We're here because we care"). As Family First's top claims denial supervisor, Wilbur handled the really difficult patients, the ones who demanded the company fulfill its policies. Wilbur was promoted to this position after a selfless display of ethical turpitude that had revolutionized the company. On his own he'd launched a secret study that showed wrongful-death suits were cheaper than paying for organ transplants covered by their policies. "So we should stop covering transplants?" asked a director during the watershed board meeting. "No," said Wilbur, "we'd lose business and profit. We should just stop paying the claims." "We can do that?" asked the director. "Gentlemen," said Wilbur, grabbing the edge of the conference table with both hands. "These people are terribly ill and in serious need of immediate medical treatment. They're in no shape to argue with us." "Brilliant," went the murmur around the table. As the senior claims denier, Wilbur handled only the most tenacious and meritorious claims that bubbled up through lower levels of impediment. While a simple coward in person, Wilbur became a vicious coward behind the relative safety of a longdistance phone call- Wilbur answered each appeal with the predisposition that no claim would get by, regardless of legitimacy, company rules, reason and especially fairness. When cornered by an airtight argument, Wilbur responded with a tireless flurry of Byzantine logic. If all else failed and it looked like a claim had to be approved, there was the secret weapon. It became legend around the industry as the Putzenfus Gambit. "It's an obvious typographical mistake on the bill. Why can't you fix it?" the policyholder would ask. "I don't have that authority." "Who does?" "I can't tell you." "Why not?!" "I'm not allowed to give out that information." "What's the phone number of your main office?" "I'm not authorized to disclose that number." "Fine! I'll get it myself. What city is your main office in?" Silence. "Are you still there?" "I'm not allowed to talk to you anymore." Click. Sharon's engagement ring was from denied dialysis. The wedding floral arrangement from rejected prescriptions and the open bar from obstructed physical therapy. The buffet was subsidized by untaken CAT scans that would have found a tiny bone fragment that later paralyzed a fourth grader... Florida Roadkill A Novel . Copyright © by Tim Dorsey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.