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ORANGE CRUSH


By Tim Dorsey

William Morrow, 2000
ISBN: 0-060-18577-5

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Marlon Conrad always knew he would be Governor of Florida someday. The 38-year-old Richard Gere lookalike comes from a long line of successful politicians and money-makers and has been groomed from birth to continue the tradition. He's had a good life, partying his way through college, holding no real jobs, unless you count owning a sports team, following the agenda laid out for him by his savvy pop and his advisors. In 2001 he had worked his way up to Lieutenant Governor, with a plan to run for his boss' job in the next term. A tragic accident involving Governor Birch, a plane full of lobbyists and hookers, and an Alaskan mountainside suddenly propelled him into the governor's seat, and now, in 2002, he is preparing to run on his own. He seems to be a shoo-in; his Democratic opponent, Speaker of the House Gomer Tatum, is a portly buffoon with a penchant for pigs-in-the-blanket and Beenie Weenies. But, as the cover blurb says, "anything can happen when Floridians turn out to vote."

For those of you familiar with Dorsey's previous books, FLORIDA ROADKILL and HAMMERHEAD RANCH MOTEL, you'll know that this former journalist writes like a cross between Dave Barry and Carl Hiassen. There are insane goings-on and insaner characters all going at full tilt toward a final, cataclysmic finale, which in this case involves settling the election in the wrestling ring.

Among the vast cast of characters is our old friend from the previous books, the almost-likable serial killer Serge A. Storm. Storm, although suffering from amnesia, manages to become Conrad's speech writer and trusted sidekick as they take to the road in a bright-orange Winnebago previously owned by a country-western band sponsored by a soft drink company. "Orange Crush," that is. There are lots of sly references to recent current events. A couple of the better ones: the citizens of West Palm Beach get confused during the election by the "Reticulated Lawn Beetle Ballot," and the Florida Secretary of State appears to have "overdosed on rouge." There is some graphic sex and violence, but mostly it's all in good fun, and Serge rarely kills anybody who didn't deserve killing.

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