Book Review: ‘Clownfish Blues: A Novel’ Is An Amusing Acid Trip For The ADHD

Review by Adrina Palmer

A (Serge A.) Storm is brewing for a cabal of bad guys gaming the Florida state lottery in this insanely funny novel from the maestro of mayhem, Tim Dorsey.

Pinky and the Brain…oops… I mean, Coleman and Serge are laughable vigilantes out for a joyride turned television show. Their own version of the old show, “Route 66,” probably varies a little bit from the original in Tim Dorsey’s twentieth book about this dynamic duo, in ‘Clownfish Blues.’ My head is still spinning from the wild ride and multiple stops digressing from the ever-shifting plot line. This book could be a stand-alone amusement park. With everything from drug-laced pizza, Chester the Cheetah jumping through fire, and digging for worms, you have at least a carnival of entertainment packed into just over three hundred pages.

Serge is the brains. His mind works on overdrive, usually with little help from narcotics. Don’t be surprised if he stops to read a history book or wave a friendly hello to an alligator; this is just his style. Coleman is the more laid-back sidekick and is necessary to pull off the multi-tiered stunts Serge jam packs into twenty-four hours. With free time and a mission, these two head off to record their version of the sixties show “Route 66,” looking for their version of happiness and accomplishment.

Meanwhile, Florida is in a frenzy over a gigantic lottery. Grocery and gas station lines flood the store as everyone tries to buy their own slice of wealth. Not just your average Joe, but a slew of shady characters try to purchase the lottery win, while others try to work the system in search for a loophole to secure themselves millions. The frenzy leads to a couple of lawyers finding themselves in hot water along with some less than reputable clients.

Back to Serge and his calmer counterpart. Each day is a new opportunity as they ride through Florida in their vintage silver Corvette. Their episodes include new jobs every day, really exploring the plethora of jobs available to those willing to look outside the box. Worm grubbing leads to a set of new friends, and more importantly an opportunity to fulfill their vigilante duties. More days bring more opportunities to their roles as hostage negotiators help save a hostage, spinning signs in animal costumes, cashiers at a grocery store, and of course, everyone should dabble in astrology.

The real joy of this book is the unique methods Serge uses to force people to improve their reproachful behavior. Genius could be tossed around in the description, then again so could morbid and twisted. Especially since they do not murder their victims so much as give them limited options to live. The best scene – I mean the scene that made the whole book worth the read – was when they impersonated officials by simply pulling on windbreakers and taking over a residential hostage situation. The poor woman just wanted her main squeeze to take her to Pottery Barn to buy some candles. Serge and Coleman manage to pry her from the confines of the bathroom and out the front door to safety. Then the party begins with the accused and our heroes, pizza, and a Netflix binge while the actual bureaus argue over who the hostage negotiators are.

Everyone should try a hand at playing a psychic or at least sleep with a psychic and knowing the exact location of a crime scene. Reevis, a friend of Serge’s and an investigative reporter, has his hands full when his boss sics a new camera crew on him in an attempt to improve the shows low ratings. Believing he has seen the last of his long time friend Serge, Reevis inexplicably finds their paths cross several times. Along for the ride is a lawyer to the lost, Brooke, Reevis’ current flame, and Serge’s ex-flame; although, animosity is restrained and no hard feelings create tension in this aspect. Of course, me being nineteen books behind in this series, the tension may have broken several novels back. The purpose of this book culminates in a lost lottery ticket but does little to smash the limited ambitions of the protagonist. So basically, the ending is as scatterbrained as the inside of Serge’s head. Someone grab a broom and start sweeping up some of the cobwebs.

Coleman is about as dumb as Serge is smart, but Serge can hide his intelligence behind a layer of baffling events; whereas, Coleman would rather lay down for a nap after a couple of tokes on his joint. His penchant for snoozing doesn’t keep him out of the passenger seat of every adventure Serge encounters or instigates. Besides serial killer tendencies and sex with random strangers in the school gym or in a gorilla suit, I have a lot of love for this strange novel. The rollercoaster ride through the brain of a manic depressive on a high was decidedly amusing. The scene above, along with several others, would play out beautifully on a crime based sitcom once a week. Not sure if my love will push me to catch up on the past, but I did find this break from my normal genre enlightening. Although, my new year’s resolution to focus better has been slightly inhibited by the frenzied pace and plot of Clownfish Blues. Give it a try; the book is in a store near you.

Available now in bookstores

James McDonald
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