Florida Roadkill -- Tim Dorsey
Some swearing ahead.
I love the Friends of the Library. Not only do they run our ongoing book sale (so... dangerous...), but the President and I have very similar reading tastes. She loves the revenge stories, the anti-heroes, the crime capers. Florida Roadkill is the first of a whole series starring Serge Storms, a sociopath with an obsession with Florida history.
When I hit this scene in the Prologue (which you can read in its entirety here), in which a bigoted redneck uses the n-word on a convenience store clerk in front of the Wrong People, I knew that This Was A Book For Me:
"Now give me my fucking change, you stupid fucking ..."
And he said it. The word. It hung in the air between them, an electrical cumulonimbus over the cash register.
The driver realized what he'd spoken and paused to flash back. He used the word once to criticize a bad parking job at a Wendy's, and this little four-foot guy went Tasmanian Devil on him. He received bruised ribs, a jaw wired shut and eight fog lights snapped off his truck.
He panicked. He jumped back from the counter and pulled a switchblade on Ellrod. "Don't try anything! You know you guys call each other that all the time! Don't go getting on me about slavery!"
The tallest Latin was next in line, fiddling with a point-of-purchase display, key-chain flashlights in the shape of AK-47 bullets.
"Hey!" the Latin said to the pickup driver. "Apologize!"
The driver turned the blade toward him. "Fuck off, Julio! You don't even have a dog in this fight! Go back to your guacamole farm and those tropical monkeys you call the mothers of your children!"
The driver never saw it. A second Latin came from behind, holding a bottle of honey-mustard barbecue sauce the size of a bowling pin. He had it by the neck and swung it around into the driver's nose, which exploded. Blood squirted everywhere like someone had stomped the heel of a boot down on a packet of ketchup.
Ellrod witnessed an entirely new league of violence. Everything in his experience up to now, even murder, was amateur softball. The driver was swarmed as he fell, and the Latins came up with makeshift convenience store weapons. Dry cell battery, meat tenderizer, Parrot Gardens car deodorizer. In ten seconds, they pulverized both elbows, both kneecaps and both testicles.
The tallest Latin walked to the rotisserie next to the soda machine. A dozen hot dogs had turned on a circle of spits for six hours, and they were leathery and resistant to conventional forks and knives. He grabbed two of the spits and held one in each fist, pointing down, like daggers. The others saw him and cleared away from the pickup driver, now on his back. The tall one pounced and drove the spits into the driver's chest, a bullfight banderillero setting the decorative spears. One spit pierced the right lung, and the other blew a ventricle. The driver torqued and shimmied on the floor and then fell into the death rattle, two shriveled-up hot dogs quivering on rabbit-ear antennas sticking out of his chest.
The tall Latin stepped over the driver and up to the cash register. He pulled a ten from an eelskin wallet and handed it to Ellrod. "Three Cokes and two Jumbo Meaty Dogs."
I read that passage aloud to Josh, and we laughed so hard that it took me four times as long to get through it as it normally would. There were tears, even.
Anyway, I'll definitely be reading more. Dorsey occasionally repeated himself, and it felt a little uneven, but overall, lots of ridiculously violent fun. One of the characters does so many drugs that by the end, I was starting to feel like I was on them, too.
I was reminded at times of Tom Sharpe (for the far-flung ridiculous situations that all come together by the end) and Hunter S. Thompson (for the drugs, mostly, but occasionally the rhythm -- sometimes I imagined him narrating it, and it was even funnier that way). Cameos by Carl Hiassen, Dave Barry and Weird Al.