Greetings, Friends and Detractors:
I apologize for my long delay between posts. So much going on, and yet so little!
Have you all noticed how Amazon is now making more money by selling marketing space to self-published people than it is in selling books? The revolution continues. Meanwhile, the big publishers and agents are absolutely paralyzed, unwilling to take on ANYTHING new, different, interesting, or exciting, and churning out the same tired stuff from writers who outsource their plots (we all know who I'm talking about) and other big names.
I shouldn't say this, but I've found that it makes no sense to buy any new hardcover by a best-selling author. All I have to do is wait three months for it to be remaindered. Unfortunately, that doesn't work for the writers I like, because the print runs aren't that large. Curses!
But I must not let myself get too down about the state of the industry, as we independent publishers are still doing fabulous things. Our theme song is "Tubthumping" from Chumbawumba: "I get knocked, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down..."
I've read some pretty good stuff lately, and when my wife asks me for reviews, I've found myself saying, "Decently written, good plot, fast-paced, like the characters." That's the equivalent of a rave. But there are still some books out there whose writing knocks me on my rear-end. I want to share some of it here on Mysterious Matters (and I hope I won't forget to keep sharing these tidbits).
If you're not familiar with Tim Dorsey, let me put a plug in for him here. The word most often used to describe him is "gonzo," and that's a fair description. His "hero" (note the use of quotes) is Serge Storms, a total psychopath with a lovable twist: He's a serial killer who kills only the worthy -- specifically, the many, many scam artists who call Florida home. Serge is known for the highly creative ways that he dispatches the ne'er-do-wells. His sidekick, Coleman, is a Stoner with a capital S. You can't call these books "mysteries" as much as "bat-shit crazy capers" in which Serge spouts gonzo philosophy and Coleman looks for his next joint to light up. So, you have to be pretty open-minded to this kind of stuff before you purchase your first Dorsey opus, which have titles like Gator-a-Go-Go, Pineapple Grenade, and When Elves Attack.
Sometimes I get so giddy when reading a Dorsey book that I lose sight of the fact that the dude can write. I want to give you a sample from Tiger Shrimp Tango that shows what this guy can do:
The name's Mahoney. I get lied to for a living. The sign on the door says I'm a private eye, but I mainly keep bartenders and bookies in business.
My best friends--a rumpled fedora and bottle of rye--sat silently on my desk, waiting anxiously for the next case like a weasel-beater in a peep-show booth with incorrect change.
The day began like any other, except it was a Tuesday, not the other six. One of those pleasant days, real nice, right up until it kicks you in the Adam's apple like a transvestite in stilettos. The air coming through my window was heavy with heat, humidity, and double crosses.
Down on the street, people's lives bounce off one another like eight balls in Frankie's billiard joint, until one of them lands in the corner pocket of my office. They pay two hundred clams up front to spill their guts about frame jobs, missing identical twins, and alimony. Most of them just stink up my oxygen with alibis that are as shaky as an analogy that doesn't fit.
But this next one was a broad. She knocked on my door like knuckles hitting wood. I told her to have a seat and gave her a hankie. She blew her nose like a British ambulance, and her sob story had more twists than a dragon parade in Chinatown. But I have a soft spot for the farmer's-daughter types who take a wrong turn out of the dairy barn and end up in Palooka-ville. This dame didn't know from vice cops on the take for back-alley knobbers, which meant not having that uncomfortable conversation again, and that was jake by me.
My gut said this bird was on the level. She had no priors, skeletons, or known associates. A regular Betty Crocker life in the burbs. It all started simple enough with an out-of-the-bye phone call from some mug she'd never heard of. An odd kind of threat. Clearly a wrong number. And some easy green for me. I planned on dishing it for the usual kickback to an off-duty cop named Mccluskey who put the arm on such jokers to knock off the funny stuff, and I'd still have time to make the eighth race at Gulfstream.
The joker had other ideas...
It's not safe or milquetoast, is it? If Dorsey wasn't already successful, I bet most agents and editors would clutch their pearls and decree Dorsey the second-biggest male chauvinist pig in the world, next to you-know-who. But guess what ... Dorsey likes women; it shows in the books. Give him a try, if you dare.