Book Review: Shark Skin Suite, by Tim Dorsey

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Hilarious may best describe this novel.   Shark Skin Suite is book eighteen in Tim Dorsey’s bestselling series.   I’m still laughing, partly from the humor found within its pages, partly because it turned out to be so  entertaining.

Tim Dorsey was a new author to me. The author was recommended to me as one of the more popular Florida authors. It’s said that he portrays Florida as it really is, that he writes ‘real life.’

Is this what Florida is really like?  If so, what we see and hear in the news barely scratches a somewhat tarnished surface.

A couple of chapters in, I was feeling that I probably would have been far better if I’d started with book one of the series.  I found it confusing as someone new to the series.  I was doubtful that it would sort itself out.   From what I’ve learned about Mr. Dorsey, he writes complicated plots.  In this particular case, there seem to be many of them.

Yet the further into the story I read, the more drawn in I was.  There are so many amusing things going along with the story, it is hard to resist.  By the time I finished the book I knew I’d have to read more of the series.  It’s been days since I’ve finished it, and I am still laughing at some of the antics.  The author has a great—and unusual–sense of humor.  The characters are funny and outrageous.

No doubt many of the scenes and names will be familiar to Floridians. That will add  to the fun, hearing of the local hangouts and secrets.   From Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale to the north-south highway that is apparently a risky road to drive to the many named little bars.

The Story

The main recurring character of the series is not your normal hero.  Serge Storms is a serial killer. On the side he does some investigating for Mahoney, among other things.  He has a fondness for movies filmed in the area. He has a fondness for local trivia as well.   When he speaks he tends to include trivia from the area.  A lot of trivia.

The story, though it takes a while to see it clearly, revolves around a class action lawsuit against those responsible for the disastrous mortgages loans that caused mass foreclosures.  When Serge’s friend, new attorney Brooke Campanella, is assigned the case, she becomes the target of danger.  Serge, investigator, fixer and–oh right–serial killer, won’t allow that to happen.

You have…

  • Serge Storms, acting as a  lawyer, investigator, and bounty hunter, except he’s not licensed so that’s illegal.  As a serial killer he probably isn’t too concerned about that.
  • Coleman, Serge’s associate,  who is generally high or just naturally out of it.  A likable soul who Serge is amazingly patient with.
  • Brooke Campanella, a young woman he kidnapped who pays to be beat up so Serge won’t have to turn himself in. Oh yes, he is also the only person she has ever felt safe with. Yes, she is now an attorney.
  • Brooke’s very first case is regarding a foreclosure. She wins. When they don’t pay she forecloses on the bank.  Even the judge loves that irony.  Soon after, she is offered a job at a major firm, the offer as long as a phone number.  They happen to have a class action lawsuit against the mortgage holders.
  • A major law firm who puts two inexperienced lawyers on a huge class action lawsuit.
  • A man  who calls a sleeping couple telling them their daughter has been in an accident.  He will only call an ambulance if they pay ransom as she lays there bleeding out.  Bizarre.
  • A local newspaper whose new owner says no more investigative reporting.  Journalists are told to take their own photos, photographers told to write their own stories.  No doubt the power ranger at the meeting enthuses all present.
  • The reporter following the lawsuit.  Though it is  somewhat difficult to do his job when he keeps getting called off his investigation to attend a daily meeting.

Try a Tim Dorsey Novel!

Those are only a few of the details in the story.  It’s a wandering book.  Literally and figuratively since it does wander–with purpose–through a good part of Florida.  Once I caught on to the twists, turns and switchbacks, I loved it.  The characters are all so unique and outlandish, the scenes bizarre, from location to ‘activity,’ that you can’t help but laugh.

It did become a mystery as well.  In some ways not as suspenseful as some books since there is so much to laugh about, but nevertheless intriguing enough to keep me up late needing to find out what would happen.

There is some bad language and violence, but still I found myself rooting for Serge. If a killer can be on the side of the good guys, that will be where you find Serge.  At least in this book.  Surprisingly, he can be quite a softie.

I will be reading another entry to the series.  Now I just have to decide if I should go back to the beginning.


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

Author: Merry

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