NAKED CAME THE FLORIDA MAN by Tim Dorsey (William Morrow, 326 pp., $27.99)
Upping the ante has always been the strategy for Tim Dorsey's books, which are built on a peculiarly Floridian brand of outrageousness. So it's no surprise that in his latest, "Naked Came the Florida Man," Dorsey reaches a new high in that respect.
Serge Storms is a walking encyclopedia of Florida history. Also, he kills people, but only if they're asking for it, and always with a creative flourish. The plot circles around Lake Okeechobee, which, Serge says, "I like to think of as Florida's moon." Joined by his stoner pal Coleman and their newly acquired emotional support ferret, Zippy, Serge end up on the lake's north side in the town of Okeechobee, where he finds a girlfriend and the whole gang attends a rodeo, with odd results: "I never thought I would utter this sentence," he says, "but you can't smoke dope in a clown barrel."
Serge also runs across some of those people whom he just can't let live. In this book Florida insects play supporting roles, from screw worm flies to chizzywinks — and Serge's plans for these folks have bad, bad endings.
Meanwhile, some chapters swerve away from Serge to tell the story of Chris, a teenage girl in the town of Pahokee on the lake's southeast shore, whose only ambition is to play for her high school's football team. In other chapters, a treasure hunter called Captain Crack Nasty poaches wrecked vessels, bullies children and worse.
All those plot lines will come together at the Muck Bowl, the legendary annual football game between teams from Pahokee and nearby Belle Glade, poverty-plagued towns that produce an astonishing number of pro players.
Serge will accomplish a heroic rescue, and he'll tidy up a few other loose ends before he and Coleman hop in their gold Plymouth Satellite and speed out of town.