Novelist Tim Dorsey, who mixed comedy and murder in his Serge A. Storms stories, dies at 62


NEW YORK (AP) — Tim Dorsey, a former police and courts newspaper reporter who found lasting fame as the creator of the crime-comedy novel series starring Serge A. Storms, an energetic fan of Florida history and an ingenious serial killer, has died. He was 62.

Dorsey, who published 26 novels, died Sunday, according to Danielle Bartlett, a publicity director at William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. No details were revealed.

Fans of Dorsey appreciated his clever observations and satirical pokes at the weirdness of Florida. He was part of a trio of former newspapermen from Florida — including Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen — who found a rich vein of absurdist humor in the state.

“It was a privilege and honor to work with Tim Dorsey. His easy wit and deep knowledge of Florida-lore made his satirical crime capers as entertaining as they were timely. But his greatest gift was the boundless joy and escape that Serge A. Storms brought to readers on every page,” said Emily Krump, Dorsey’s editor at William Morrow, in a statement.

Dorsey’s Storms was an obsessive-compulsive serial killer who together with his drugged-out sidekick, Coleman, devised fiendishly inventive ways to murder Florida grifters and thugs, who all, naturally, had it coming.

Some of Dorsey’s titles include “The Big Bamboo,” “Hurricane Punch,” “Nuclear Jellyfish,” “When Elves Attack,” “Pineapple Grenade,” “No Sunscreen for the Dead,” “Naked Came the Florida Man,” “The Tropic of Stupid,” “Mermaid Confidential” and “The Maltese Iguana.”

Storms would drive around the state in a 1978 Firebird Trans Am or a 1976 orange Gran Torino, expounding upon the local history at every stop to Coleman, who was often only partially conscious. The author used the pair to explore everything from internet fraud and the sleazy world of scam artists to pill mills that hand out OxyContin.

Storms inflicted death ingeniously, including using an ostrich, exploding Mentos and Cuban cigars. He never used a gun, instead preferring car air bags, Tabasco sauce or even a sand castle.

There was usually a wisecrack to leaven all that violence. After dumping an OxyContin dealer into a pond divebombed by pelicans in “The Riptide Ultra-Glide,” Storms notes: “I didn’t invent nature. I just like to rearrange it.”

“Dorsey’s novels are apt to offend those who believe that drug abuse and grisly murders are unfit subjects for humor, but his fans find an abundance of chuckles and belly laughs in his best books including ‘The Big Bamboo’ and ‘Hurricane Punch,’” wrote novelist Bruce DeSilva for The Associated Press last year.

Dorsey, whose literary hero was Kurt Vonnegut, enlivened his books with obscure state history, bars and restaurants with unique characters, movie and TV locations, music history, funky motels, the space program, ties to sports heroes, flora and fauna and unusual sites. He gave all the wisdom he’d learn to Storms.

“He has a childlike enthusiasm. He hasn’t lost what the rest of us lose,” Dorsey told the AP in 2007. “In a way, he has reminded me to try to, from time to time, rekindle it in some way.”

Dorsey was born in Indiana, moved to Florida at age 1 and graduated from Auburn University in 1983. From 1983 to 1987, he was a police and courts reporter for The Alabama Journal.

He joined The Tampa Tribune in 1987, as a general assignment reporter. He also worked as a political reporter in The Tribune’s Tallahassee bureau and a copy desk editor. From 1994 to 1999, he was The Tribune’s night metro editor.

He is survived by his daughters, mother, sister and brother.


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