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The Bookworm Sez: Learning to 'Tango' worth the effort

Posted: February 12, 2014 - 5:12pm

It sounded too good to be true.

Earn money at home, no investment required. Free for a limited time. No purchase necessary. And what’s your bank account number?

You’re a trusting soul, but you’re also getting good at spotting scams. Read the new novel “Tiger Shrimp Tango” by Tim Dorsey (c.2014, Wm. Morrow, $25.99, 306 pages), though, and you’d still better keep your eyes open.

For recent college grad Courtney Styles, Miami was a great place to be.

Yes, she was jobless. But she was living in a fabulous beach house on loan from a rich uncle, and Miami was the perfect place to man-hunt. In fact, while she was pretending to window-shop for a yacht she’d never afford, a French-accented, obviously mega-wealthy hottie struck up a conversation and invited her to lunch at one of those ridiculously trendy spot-of-the-moment restaurants.

Courtney thought her luck had improved, until the man split without paying the check — which was considerably bigger than the meal she’d eaten. Worse, by the time she got back to the beach house, everything in it was gone.

Stolen.

Serge Storms was convinced that there was a way to unite America . He had a plan — but first, he’d made the decision to return to private investigating. Partnering with his old friend, Mahoney, who’d made somewhat of a name for himself by recovering stolen money on behalf of scam victims, was a good way to start. Ever since a ring of criminals began swindling wealthy South Floridians and getting away with big bucks, Mahoney’s phone had been jangling nonstop.

Hoping that he could help Mahoney by (not-so)-gently pressuring the thieves to give up their life of crime, Serge headed for Miami in a 1978 Trans Am. Riding shotgun was his sidekick, Coleman. And somewhere along State Road 60, on their way south, Serge sketched out his not-quite-detailed plan.

It involved Republicans, scientific principles, political theory, Democrats, and helping their fellow man. Plus, whatever else came along. Bottom line, it meant the scam ring would be stopped.

Unless someone stopped Serge first …

If you’re a fan of author Tim Dorsey’s Serge Storm books, you can stop reading right here and go find this novel.

Go ahead. Go.

But if you’re new to this series, there are a few things you’ll want to know, beginning with the fact that “Tiger Shrimp Tango” makes zero sense for a good long time. It’s chaotic, frenetic, and feels as if someone poured five manuscripts into a bucket, stirred, and printed. Welcome to Serge’s world.

What you need to do is to trust that Dorsey won’t leave you hanging — because he doesn’t. After awhile, the story comes into focus like a cheap microscope and you’ll realize how much fun it is to spend time with a brilliant madman, his bong-loving sidekick, and a PI who speaks in hilariously nonsensical code.

I can’t stress enough, though, that this novel takes some getting used to. It’s wild; lovingly violent; and very, very clever. If that’s something you can handle, then “Tiger Shrimp Tango” might sound good to you.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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