The Bookworm: A Dorsey whodunit; Purvis’ heart-pounding adventure
“No Sunscreen for the Dead”
- By Tim Dorsey
- c. 2019, Wm. Morrow
- $26.99, $33.50 Canada; 323 pages
You didn’t recognize the number. So, you didn’t answer the phone. That’s how you operate these days: accept calls you know and keep your money in your wallet. You never know who’s going to try to take it, and in the new book “No Sunscreen for the Dead” by Tim Dorsey, not everyone has a hero to get it back.
Serge Storms and his sidekick, Coleman, have retired.
Serge had always wanted to, and there was no better time than when they were touring Florida ’s Gulf-side “Retirement Coast.” The tour was also a great excuse to meet senior “heroes” – veterans and once-upon-a-time volunteers – and to right some wrongs that Serge knew had been done.
It seemed that door-to-door salesmen were selling Sarasota-area seniors a pile of unneeded items – restaurant-grade kitchens, monster-sized humidifiers, tchotchkes and dust-collectors – and emptying their wallets in the meantime. Serge had a soft spot in his heart for those elders because he knew their sacrifices and besides, they knew where to find the best pie and the cheapest early-early-bird specials.
And so, in his Serge-like way (violently, that is, but with science and style), he would get their money returned, and make sure that nobody scammed his new friends again.
Forty-six-year-old Benmont Pinch knew that he was a dinosaur.
Most of his colleagues at Life-Armor were Millennials who’d practically been born with computers in their cribs. Benmont, on the other hand, was a numbers guy and that was probably why his employers kept him around: given the information and an hour, there wasn’t a statistic he couldn’t get or an answer he couldn’t tease out. That was apparently more than his younger co-workers could do.
This talent never led to a raise, but it did give him opportunities to work with local law officials: they fed him what he needed, and he gave them a statistically-likely-criminal’s name. When dozens of senior couples along the East Coast were found murdered, though, Benmont couldn’t believe what the stats told him. Their Social Security information had to be all wrong – or was it?
Decisions, decisions: start a new mystery tonight, or dig into something funny? Why not have the best of both by layering on “No Sunscreen for the Dead”?
For whodunit fans, this novel contains a long, head-scratching, maze-like mystery linked to older Floridians – a side-story that would be too wild in any other novel. Its solution is offered quickly and the why remains to be solved, but don’t work yourself up too much. The real reason for coming to a Serge Storm book is for the zap-paced, profanity-laced, revenge-based humor that’s so outrageous, you gotta laugh.
If you’re a fan, you already know that author Tim Dorsey tends to make his novels something akin to putting a hurricane in a blender. “No Sunscreen for the Dead” is all that but, in what may be the least madcap of the bunch, it’s easier to grasp and might be perfect for series newbies. Mystery or humor book, whichever you want, this one’s got your number.
“Go Find: My Journey to Find the Lost – and Myself”
- By Susan Purvis
- c. 2018, Blackstone Publishing
- $34.95, higher in Canada; 13 hours, 10 CDs
You never wanted to get caught. Wasn’t that the point of playing Hide & Seek? To sneak out, lay low, and sneak back to safety? Yep, and never get found – unless, of course, you’re in a situation like those in “Go Find” by Susan Purvis, and you’re 10 feet below snowline.
The geography bug bit Susan Purvis early. When she was ten, her father taught her to use a compass while the two were on a fishing trip in the Great Lakes area. At fifteen, Purvis learned to read a U.S. Geological Survey map and topographical maps. Even so, she knew what it was like to be lost, having had it happen not long afterward. She never forgot that.
Years later, married, and working with her husband as a gold miner in the Dominican Republic but based in Colorado, Purvis decided that she wanted a dog. Specifically, she wanted a dog she could train to search for avalanche survivors and victims near her home of Crested Butte. It didn’t take long for her to settle on a Black Lab, which she named Tasha.
Initially, training seemed like a daunting task: Purvis hired locals to lie in the snow in a local park until Tasha’s shiny black nose appeared. There was much to learn on both ends of the leash: they had to figure out how to communicate – Tasha, by learning commands; and Purvis, by understanding her dog’s find-signals. Purvis discovered, too, that it would not be easy to get her dog certified, or to get on a team, or to lead local officials to call on a search dog when someone was missing or lost.
Branching out to summertime search and rescue, and then to cadaver retrieval, Purvis also learned that it wasn’t easy to keep one foot in her obsession and one in a relationship …
It is a fact that “Go Find” is full of heart-pounding adventure, bravery, thrills, and heroics that will make you smile. It’s a fact that there’s love of a dog shining through it, too, and a few tears.
And yet, this book is an overall “no.”
For some reason as of late, ill-behaved dogs have become sources of humor in books and movies, and people love it. It’s not funny, though, when the miscreant is a working dog, despite the sometimes-jocular tone in “Go Find.” This may lead readers to notice that author Susan Purvis is very harshly critical of amateur search dogs, although she, herself, worked her dog in situations for which Tasha was unready.
Sadly, this convenient and quite outraged criticism is joined by juvenile nicknames for people and dog toys, both which further degrade what should be a grown-up story. Worst of all: an ill-placed, unnecessary sex scene; and several extremely graphic, overly-long passages about Tasha’s gluttonous habits with human waste, and … no.
Though a physical book might be less exceptionable, you can try this audiobook but think twice about doing so while eating, or entertaining young children. Really, though, the best advice for “Go Find” is: don’t.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.