A rare burst of focus sets Serge Storms (Riptide Ultra-Glide, 2013, etc.) straight on the path of a band of South Florida scam artists.
With its fertile fields of kitschy history, South Florida is a grifter’s dream. In a land that boasts roadside attractions like Gatorland and the Tupperware Confidence Center, nothing seems beyond belief. Still, Florida native South Philly Sal likes to start small. First it’s Gustave and Sasha, his gigolo and gigolette, decoying suckers into trendy bistros that serve molecular cuisine while Sal’s operatives burgle their bungalows. Then there’s Uncle Cid, who sells the same Corvette over and over, only to steal it back from under the noses of the poor schlubs who just signed the papers. Sal’s henchman, Omar, and his diminutive henchwoman, Piper, fleece thousands posing as a cancer-afflicted boy and a father who can’t afford his son’s treatment. And Sal mixes larceny with a little old-fashioned mischief, phoning hotel patrons en masse with fake poison-gas threats and rifling their room as they stream naked onto the street covered in fire-extinguisher foam. Naturally, these hijinks irk the vigilante in Serge, who goes after the perpetrators with the help of his stoned-out pal, Coleman, and an assortment of homebrewed chemical combinations Mr. Wizard never told you about.
Dorsey’s 17th is as antic as ever, but his straight-arrow plotting deprives readers of the fun of figuring out just what the hell is going on.