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No Sunscreen for the Dead


No Sunscreen for the Dead

Tim Dorsey has kicked off the new year by writing what may be the best of his 22 books in the Serge A. Storms series thus far. NO SUNSCREEN FOR THE DEAD is certainly my favorite, given that it revolves around the sections of the population demographics of which I am happily a member. I also am pleased to report that Dorsey continues to find plenty of the arcane, unusual, bizarre and, yes, downright useful elements of the state of Florida to stuff this intriguing, one-sit novel right up to its brim.

Dorsey’s penchant for dropping factoids throughout his books is what initially attracted me to them, starting with FLORIDA ROADKILL and advancing right up to the present. What has followed over the past two decades has been formula writing at its best, each volume containing comfortably familiar elements strung together with a number of surprises. The maniacally homicidal but extremely polite Serge A. Storms is a righter of wrongs in the most inventive of ways. He remains loyal to a fault toward his trusted friend, the perpetually well-toasted Coleman, who somehow still possesses some functioning brain cells. The two of them find countless villains to battle in NO SUNSCREEN FOR THE DEAD, and do so with the usual inventive aplomb that has been a trademark of this one-of-a-kind series.

"By the time Serge and Coleman fade off in the distance once again, one can only conclude that NO SUNSCREEN FOR THE DEAD is more than worth its price of admission."

This latest installment kicks off with Serge wanting to visit Florida’s largest retirement community, a destination that quickly leads the duo to the Retirement Coast and the trailer park communities where seasoned citizens of both the landed gentry and snowbird variety reside. Serge makes friends quickly, but also discovers in due course that a cottage industry of skimmers and flim-flam artistes is taking advantage of those who for decades kept their noses to the collective grindstone in order to quietly maintain and enjoy their retirement years.

Those who are looking for ways to commit murder and mayhem with five-volt batteries and flour will find much to love here, as will the baby boomers who as children vacationed with their families in St. Petersburg and Tampa. Dorsey, through his fictional persona, also notes that the region played an extremely important role in the Cold War, which comes home to roost in the novel’s present. Those of us who load up our so-called smartphones with various apps will find a plethora of reasons to pause before automatically ticking off those agreement boxes after reading this book. Dorsey isn’t exaggerating. It’s one of the few areas here that doesn’t have one foot in the absurd.

There is more. Readers will look at swans in an entirely new way and appreciate lightning. By the time Serge and Coleman fade off in the distance once again, one can only conclude that NO SUNSCREEN FOR THE DEAD is more than worth its price of admission.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 18, 2019

No Sunscreen for the Dead
by Tim Dorsey

  • Publication Date: January 7, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Humor, Mystery
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0062795899
  • ISBN-13: 9780062795892