The Pope of Palm Beach by Tim Dorsey

the pope of palm beach by tim dorseyBrilliantly described in the blurb as ‘part spree killer, part local historian’, Serge A Storms is a man with a strong moral code. He loves his native Florida and is committed to its ecology and culture and does not take kindly to those who undermine either. His version of ‘not taking kindly’ is both brutal and inventive.

In the present day, Serge is on a literary road trip round the state with his stoner friend Coleman, in search of the truth about a writer whose disappearance is a mystery. Meanwhile, there is a drugs gang led by a man with a criminal toupée which is diversifying into new markets. A third story strand takes us back to the Palm Beach of Serge’s childhood, and to the life of the iconic surfer known as the Pope of Palm Beach.

The setting, dark humour and focus on environmental issues mean that inevitably Dorsey has been compared to Carl Hiaasen (there is even a joke that plays on this in the book). Dorsey’s writing, though, has its own unique appeal. His prose is beautifully evocative and I loved the contrast between the languid, loving descriptions of Serge’s childhood home and the energy driving the narrative.

Serge is a man of many passions and encyclopaedic knowledge. He raises everyday griping to an art form. There is poetry in his declamatory style and humour that runs from bone-dry to madcap, but there are also moments of great poignancy.

This is a long-established series but new to me. The book worked well as a standalone but I’m now eager to read more about Serge and Coleman.

I received a copy of The Pope of Palm Beach from the publisher via Netgalley.
View The Pope of Palm Beach on Goodreads

Enjoyed this? Take a look at my review of A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride

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