'Coconut Cowboy' by Tim Dorsey. Morrow, 336 pages, $25.99
It is just possible that despite — or maybe because of — buffoonish plots, outlandish characters and slapstick comedy, Tim Dorsey's novels may be masquerading for carefully researched history lessons about Florida.
Make no mistake, "Coconut Cowboy" is just as weird and funny and silly as Dorsey's other 19 novels about Serge A. Storms, the serial killer who is the ultimate defender of Florida and scourge of bad behavior. Serge's love for Florida has him constantly spouting off facts about the Sunshine State. And while Dorsey writes fiction, his Florida tidbits are real, such as his homage to the ruins of the Yulee Sugar Mill in Homosassa, the Monticello opera house, and Key West's attempts to secede from the United States.
As usual, Dorsey's plot is on shaky ground, but then so were the films of the Three Stooges to whom the author is the literary counterpart. In "Coconut Cowboy," Serge and his dim sidekick Coleman do their version of "Easy Rider," searching for the American Dream on a trek across Florida's Panhandle. Eventually, their travels will take them to the aptly named Wobbly, Fla., which may be the state's most corrupt town. New residents Peter Pugliese, a geologist, and his wife, Alice, an expert trial witness, are finding out just how shady the town is with phantom water bills, a city government that meets in a barbecue restaurant and a country bumpkin mayor with larceny in his heart.
"Chaos is always possible in Florida," says Serge, as are sinkholes, illegal annexation, car scams and traffic tickets handed out to anyone who even breathes near the town.
"Coconut Cowboy" is pure Dorsey, with a strong beginning and finish but a weak middle. After all, it is hard to keep up this level of hijinks seamlessly. It's possible that Serge's adventures may become a TV series. Dorsey's novels recently were optioned by Sonar Entertainment with Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard set to write the adaptation and executive produce. The pair created the Amazon comedy series "Betas" and are currently writers and producers on MTV's upcoming "The Shannara Chronicles."
And if you didn't know that in 1810 parts of West Florida were made a part of the Louisiana Purchase, don't worry. Dorsey and Serge will tell you all about it.
Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the author
Tim Dorsey will discuss "Coconut Cowboy" -- and tell a lot of jokes -- at the following venues: 3 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Jupiter Branch Library, 705 Military Trail, Jupiter, 561-744-2301; 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Palm Beach Gardens, 11303 Campus Drive, Palm Beach Gardens, 561- 626-6133; at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at Murder on the Beach, 273 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach, 561-279-7790; at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at Barnes & Noble, 591 S. University Drive, Plantation, 954-723-0489; at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11 at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, 305-442-4408.