The Riptide Ultra-Glide: A Book Review

February 4, 2013 by  

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DorseyBookTampa-based Tim Dorsey has written over a dozen humorous crime-fiction novels based around the continuing adventures of Serge Storms, manic and psychotic mass murderer who also happens to have a soft spot for obscure bits of Florida history. His associate, Coleman, is a wreck, consuming every form of alcohol and drug he can get his hands on, though somehow seems never to be the worse for wear for his excesses.

Serge and Coleman travel throughout Florida seeking adventure and good times, usually resulting in side-splitting mayhem. This time around, author Dorsey, through his muses, explores the seamier side of the ever-popular pain clinics, which as any Floridian knows, is a ruse for enabling those who are addicted to painkillers to obtain fraudulent prescriptions to satisfy their cravings. Enter into this mix an entrepreneurial fellow from Kentucky, Catfish. One of the keys to Catfish’s success was filling school buses with drifters and other homeless types in Kentucky, and driving them down to one or more pain clinics in southern Florida. With Oxycodone pills selling for as much as $80 apiece, serious money was being made. The pain clinics handed out prescriptions with abandon. The prescription holders were then transported to cooperating pharmacies to fill the prescriptions, which were then handed over to folks like Catfish. Afterward, they were driven back to Kentucky (or wherever they came from). Unfortunately for Catfish and fellow entrepreneurs, there were far too many pain clinics, with attendant gaggles of ne’er do wells lining up for blocks to get their prescriptions that law enforcement had to take action. Of course as in all such things, with most of the crooked doctors and pharmacists in jail (their attorneys never went to jail), Catfish and company picked up stakes and moved from southeast Florida to the West Coast, in the vicinity of Tampa.

Catfish realized, however, that busloads of homeless were far too obvious, causing many more busts by law enforcement, taking prescription pads, pills, and loads and loads of cash. It also caught the attention of local drug dealers who strenuously objected to out-of-staters operating on their turf.

Enter the Wisconsin folks, the hapless MacDougals. Husband and wife schoolteachers, who were just laid off during the latest round of budget cuts, came down to Florida and thanks to some real misleading ads on the web, wound up in an especially seedy motel along US1 in Miami (not realizing that US1 and State Road A-1-A, where the beaches are, are completely different roads), where they suffered from misadventure to misadventure. Somehow the MacDougals got sucked into this problem and wound up with their rental car being shot up in a gunfight between the Mexicans, Kentuckians, and the police…oh, and Serge and Coleman, too. A wild ride, to be sure.

My feeling is that Dorsey wasn’t at the top of his game with this book. Some of the characters seemed unfocused, and Coleman seemed to be much whinier than usual. There were some great moments, though. I listened to this one in audiobook form and almost had an accident as I headed down Florida’s Turnpike on my way home from work, as the narrator described Catfish’s origins. Let’s just say there were fishing lures, boat paddles, and crazed owls involved. Yes, PETA is probably suffering from a major case of apoplexy over this particular scene, but hey, this is fiction after all, and it was hysterically funny, though the owl probably didn’t think so.

Like I said, it wasn’t Dorsey’s best, but that said, it was far from his worst. I really enjoyed it, and was a fun companion during my daily commute for a few days.