Cover image for Hammerhead Ranch Motel : a novel
Hammerhead Ranch Motel : a novel
Dorsey, Tim.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2000]

Physical Description:
291 pages ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Tim Doroey, author of the raucous, raw-edged, hilariously bent literary joy-ride, Florida Roadkill, now invites you back to his Sunshine State--not the tourist-mecca peneioner-paraclise the Chamber of Commerce would have you visit, but an Eden verdant with lost drug money; a center of lunatic, gravity, drawing fugitives, gangsters, losers, sociopaths and psychos of every flavor and degree to its tropic environs. And they all congregate in one sleazy, run-down motel perched on the Gulf of Mexico, just a short spitting distance from Tampa Bay.

Every room in the Hammerhead Ranch is host to a different schemer or slimeball. The Diaz Boys--cocaine duckpins who have survived only by the dumbest of luck--are stuck there with ten thousand hot, zebra-striped beepers. It's where Zargoza--ne Harvey Fiddlebottom--runs his bogus sweepstakes scam. Here undercover cops running sting operations on undercover cops are busted by undercover cops, runaway checkout girls turn into sex-crazed pot maniacs and a virgin hard-luck gigolo strikes out again.

And just down the row, the native, Serge A. Storms, is hiding out from the Florida "heat"--("you go and do a little spree killing and they never let you forget it!")--and looking out for the silver briefcase stuffed with five million dollars that has become his raison detre ...along with the compulsive need to visit every sight of local interest in his beloved home state. And since Serge, has stopped keeping up with his meds, he is capable of wreaking more havoc than hurricane, Rolando-berto--the big wind gathering force offshore, just waiting for the opportunity to blow everything straight to hell.

Like Hiaasen on a razor juiced with Quentin Tarantino amphetamine, Tim Dorsey's Hammerhead Ranch Motel is a rapid-fire, over-the-top mix of dancing Chihuahuas dressed up to predict the, weather, druggedout Don Johnson impersonators and skydiving Hemingways, hateful two-ton deejays and octogenarian enforcers. It is hilarious and deranged, but this is Florida, after all--where a direct hit from a catastrophic hurricane is the least of your worries.

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

Dorsey, the author of the hysterical romp Florida Roadkill [BKL Ap 15 99], is back with a sequel that continues and amplifies the manic energy, wild characters, and outrageous situations of the original. This outing follows the five million ill-gotten dollars last seen in the trunk of a Chrysler on its way to Tampa. Serge Storms, Florida history buff and psychopath, wants his loot back, but it proves to be elusive. The money passes through the hands of a con man, several incompetent thugs, and, finally, the owner of the Hammerhead Ranch Motel. Serge tracks each of them down, generally with homicidal results. In a narrative as complicated and interwoven as a Robert Altman film, the reader meets the irascible denizens of a luxury seniors' condo complex, a passive-aggressive private investigator, and Johnny Vegas, the Accidental Virgin. It's not stretching to claim that Dorsey does for the Florida demimonde of the 1990s what Damon Runyon did for the New York of the 1920s. Thankfully, he also leaves the ending open for a third adventure. George Needham

Publisher's Weekly Review

HWith this followup to Florida Roadkill, Dorsey places himself in the ranks of Laurence Shames and Carl Hiassen as a writer of hilarious, violent farces set in Florida. A loopy energy fills this A-ticket trip among the bridges, sailboats, seedy dives, dysfunctional families and drug deals of Tampa Bay. In the prologue alone, a college student falls through the glass dome of the Florida Aquarium; aged but feisty Mrs. Edna Ploomfield fights a gun battle with a shotgun-toting drug dealer; coitally challenged playboy Johnny Vegas has his Porsche flattened by a truck; and a man in a Santa Claus suit torches a car on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge before jumping into the sea. Later, we meet Lenny, inveterate pothead and sometime 'gator wrestler, whose exploits turn up in the Weekly Mail of the News World; Alabama-bred blonde Ingrid Praline, whose "giant Lolita package gave men hemorrhagic fever"; panicky pilot Bananas Foster; and many more zany characters. After Dorsey introduces a white Chrysler and a metal briefcase with $5 million in it, fans will not be surprised when demented killer Serge A. Storm of Florida Roadkill shows up, kicking off a long parade of crazies, most of whom end up in the motel of the title during a hurricane (and a VCR viewing of Key Largo) in the novel's wild finale. Until then, joke follows joke like a 50-car pileup, in a plot that can feel like a game of 52-pickup; it's as if Dorsey chopped up his narrative into one- and two-page segments, threw them on the floor and published them in the resulting nonorder. The story loops backwards and forward in time: halfway through the book, for example, come the scenes that set up the wild prologue. But Dorsey's temporal convolutions do not impede momentum: instead, they encourage readers to hang on for the ride. And a delightfully giddy ride it is, ending with the promise of more craziness to come. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Surge A. Stormes, a psychotic spree killer first introduced in Florida Roadkill (LJ 6/15/99), is back again, still tracking the $5 million in laundered drug money that took him on his first adventure. With his new sidekick, Lenny Lippowicz, a writer known for yellow journalism, Surge traces the money to the owner of the Hammerhead Ranch Motel in Tampa, where he settles in, waiting for the perfect opportunity to claim what he thinks is rightfully his. Off his medication and on a roll, Surge parties freely with local eccentrics, each with a personal agenda ranging from drug addiction to murder, as a hurricane builds force in the Gulf and takes deadly aim at the Tampa area. Twenty ruthless players together in a motel bar as a hurricane rages outside can only lead to an explosive climax. Fans of Florida Roadkill will certainly want this book. Meanwhile, readers take note: Surge is still out there, without the cool five million. Does this presage a second sequel?DThomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Hammerhead Ranch Motel Chapter One Lone headlights appeared in the blackness five miles away. They were high-beams, illuminating the sea mist through the slashed mangroves and crushed coral down the long, straight causeway toward Miami. The rumble of rubber on tar grew louder and the headlights became brighter until they blinded. The Buick blew by at ninety and kept going, red taillights fading down U.S. 1 toward Key West. It was quiet and dark again. An island in the middle of the Florida Keys. No streetlights, no light at all. The low pink building on the south side of the street was unremarkable concrete except for the hastily stuccoed bullet holes and the eight-foot cement conch shell on the shoulder of the road, chipped and peeling, holding up a sign: "Rooms $29.95 and up." No cars in front of the motel; the night manager nodding in the office. The beach was sandy, some broken plastic kiddie toys, an unsafe pier and a scuttled dinghy. The air was still by the road, but around back a steady breeze came off the ocean. Coconut palms rustled and waves rolled in quietly from the Gulf Stream. Parked behind the motel, by the only room with a light on, was a black Mercedes limousine. Voices and an electrical hum came from the room, number seven. Inside, personal effects covered one of the beds -- toiletries, carefully rolled socks, newspaper clippings, sunscreen, postcards,snacks, ammunition-meticulously arranged in rows and columns. The hum was from the Magic Fingers bed jiggler that had been hot-wired to run continuously. The voices came from the TV that had been unbolted from its wall mount and now sat on a chair facing into the bathroom, tuned to Sportscenter. In the flickering blue-gray TV light, a figure sat in the bathtub behind an open Miami Herald. Two sets of fingers held the sides of the paper -- a front-page splash about a drug shoot-out in Key West and a missing five million in cash --and smoke rose from behind the paper. An old electric fan sat on the closed toilet lid, blowing into the tub. Something about the Miami Dolphins came on ESPN. The man in the tub folded the paper and put it on the toilet tank. He grabbed the remote control sitting in the soap dish on the shower wall. The slot in the top of the soap dish held a .38 revolver by the snub nose. "Nobody messes with Johnny Rocco," said the man in the tub, and he pressed the volume button. The bather was tan, tall and lean with violating ice-blue eyes, and his hair was military-short with flecks of gray. He was in his late thirties and wore a new Tampa Bay Buccaneers baseball cap. In his mouth was a huge cigar, and he took it out with one hand and picked up an Egg McMuffin with the other. He checked his watch. Top of the hour. He clicked the remote control with the McMuffin hand and surfed over to CNN for two minutes, to make sure nothing had broken out in the world that would demand his response, and then over to A&E and the biography of Burt Reynolds for background noise while he read the Herald editorials. He put the McMuffin down on the rim of the tub and picked up the cup of orange juice. On TV, Burt made a long football run for Florida State in a vintage film of a forgotten Auburn game. The tub's edge also held jelly doughnuts, breakfast fajitas and a scrambled egg/sausage breakfast in a preformed plastic tray. On the toilet lid, next to the fan, was a hardcover book from 1939, the WPA guide to Florida. Inside the cover, the man had written his name. Serge A. Storms. Like now, Serge was usually naked when he was in a motel, but it wasn't sexual. Serge thought clothes were inefficient and uncomfortable; they restricted his movements, and his skin wanted to breathe. Nudity also cut down on changing time, since he was constantly in and out of the shower, subjecting himself to rapid temperature changes, alternating hot and cold water rushes that reminded him he was alive and cleaned out the pores to keep that skin breathing, feeling new. Serge hesitated a second in the tub, mid-bite in the McMuffin. He couldn't think of what to do next, not even something as simple as chewing. Too many ideas raged at once in his head, and his brain gridlocked. He was paralyzed. Then the congestion slowly unclogged and he resumed chewing. When he realized he could move his arms again, he reached on top of the toilet tank for a prescription bottle. He shook it, but it made no sound, and he tossed the empty in the waste can beside the sink, a bank shot off the ceramic seashell tiles. Hell with it, he thought, I'll go natural. If it gets too strange, I'll run to a drug hole and score some Elavil that crackheads use to come down after four days on the ledge. Serge had started feeling the effects of not keeping up with his psychiatric medication. And he liked it. He got out of the tub and opened the back door of the motel room and walked out under a coconut palm. The breeze dried the sweat cold on his skin. He looked up into the nexus of palm fronds and coconuts set against the Big Dipper and a sky of brilliant stars over the water, away from the light pollution of the mainland. Serge said: "There's a big blow a-comin'." Serge went back inside and slept all day in the motel tub, and his skin shriveled. Two hours before sunset, there was a loud beeping sound in room seven. Serge awoke in alarm and splashed around as if he'd discovered a cottonmouth in the water.He jumped from the tub and into his pants without toweling off.The beeping sound came from a metal box on the dresser, an antitheft car-tracking device.Serge threw on a shirt and packed a travel bag in seconds.He didn't close the door as he ran out with shirt open and shoes in his hands.He threw the bag and shoes in the front of the limo and sped away from the motel... Hammerhead Ranch Motel . Copyright © by Tim Dorsey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Hammerhead Ranch Motel by Tim Dorsey 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.