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Off the Shelves: Return to Miami madness in Dorseys 'Pineapple Grenade'

'Pineapple Grenade'

Written by:  Tim Dorsey
Rating: Four out of five bookmarks.

A few months ago, I reviewed Tim Dorsey's criminally entertaining novel "When Elves Attack," a Christmas caper that featured some of the most gruesome, and laugh-out-loud hysterical murders that I have ever read.

Since it was the first book of Dorsey's that I had read, a few folks encouraged me to pick up some of his other books so I could fully appreciate the scope of the author's creative madness.

Fortunately for me, Dorsey has released a brand new tale of funny fiascoes in Florida centering on his peculiar protagonist, and this wild ride has somehow managed to be even crazier than the previous one.

With "Pineapple Grenade," Dorsey brings us back into the manic mayhem of Miami for the continuing escapades of Serge Storms, the endearing homicidal lunatic, and his cohort Coleman, who loyally if inexplicably tags along with Serge in an ever-constant haze of drug-induced stupor.

After preventing a potential carjacking (and subjecting the carjacker to one of his highly imaginative methods of corporal punishment), Serge decides his new ambition in life is to become an international spy.

Thus he puts into motion his Secret Master Plan, and soon finds himself rubbing elbows with the President of Costa Gorda, baffling the CIA and various consulates, complicating matters for a congressman with underhanded plans, romancing every breed of beauty that crosses his path, and otherwise causing widespread panic wherever he goes.

However, all of Serge's fun takes a deadly serious turn. With the help of a gorgeous undercover agent, he must stop an assassination plot that could trigger a war and save his own skin in the process.

That Dorsey intertwines so many seemingly random, ridiculous and over-the-top events into one cohesive plot is nothing short of impressive. It can be a bit much to mentally process at times, but Dorsey clearly loves to play mind games with his readers as much as Serge loves to play mind games with everyone he runs into.

As always, Serge is chock full of absurd yet provocative philosophies that somehow always sway others to fall in line with his plans — of course, it helps when no one in the CIA has enough intelligence to figure out how to deal with someone as bizarre as Serge.

Coleman is a decent sidekick for Serge and provides some comic relief, although how necessary he is as a character is questionable.

With a character as colorful and fun as Serge, Coleman does not add anything to the story, and often comes across as more annoying than likeable.

The rest of the cast, which becomes leviathan as the chaos balloons bigger and bigger, run a wide gamut of classic spy types: military machismos (who really aren't), seductive femme fatales, slimy politicians. Even the narrator gets his moment in a surprise breaking of the fourth wall.

By the time you finish the novel, you might be asking yourself, "What on earth just happened in this story?" (I know I did.)

There is almost too much going on in the novel, which makes it seem like one big blur and leaves certain moments appearing a little disjointed.

That is part of the insanity, I suppose, and for those of us who may not fully comprehend all of the nuances of Dorsey's storytelling, we can at least laugh at all the truly memorable moments.

"Pineapple Grenade" displays Dorsey's talents as a comedian, a Florida historian, a political and social commentator, and a well-seasoned writer. I look forward to more upcoming exploits from Serge and Coleman, to see where Dorsey's overwhelming imagination will take them next.

Alison Reeger Cook is a Gainesville resident whose Off the Shelves book review appears every other week in Sunday Life. Know of a good book to review? Email her to tell her about it. Her column appears biweekly and on