Coconut Cowboy

Like Serge Storms, the protagonist of his 18 comic Florida crime novels (including Shark Skin Suite), Tim Dorsey has made it a personal mission to chronicle every swamp, strip mall, abandoned speakeasy and weird roadside attraction of his home state. Nobody does wacky Florida like Dorsey, and no other fiction crime buddies quite compare to Serge and his drug- and alcohol-fueled sidekick, Coleman. In Coconut Cowboy, they aim to rewrite the ending to the iconic 1969 movie Easy Rider. To Serge, their adventure is to complete the film characters' goal of finding the American Dream in Florida. To Coleman, it's "morning, noon and night, coast to coast, blazing fat ones... listening to righteous music, munching out." They trade their Mercury Comet for a Harley hardtail with ape-hangers and a sidecar, and off they go down back roads, stopping at little-known landmarks like early haunts of the Allman Brothers, Tom Petty and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the hippie tent cities of off-road dope and music festivals.

As in other Dorsey novels, a seemingly unrelated plot develops in the small town of Wobbly, where a local extended family of rednecks lines its pockets from highway speed traps, utility shakedowns, real estate developments straddling sinkhole formations and money laundering for a Miami drug dealer who describes them "like if Duck Dynasty went over to the dark side." Of course, the Serge and Coleman road trip winds up in Wobbly, where all sorts of wrongs get righted--and many rights get trampled. It's all fun in the Sunshine State, which one character describes as "the nation's pace car of dysfunction." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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