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Book review: ‘Nuclear’ offers dark humor

“Nuclear Jellyfish”

by Tim Dorsey (William Morrow, 307 pages, $24.99)

Tim Dorsey’s publisher tries to promote his books by sending plot summaries to book reviewers.

This does not do Dorsey any favors. The summaries make the plots sound stupid when, in actuality, they are merely insane.

“Nuclear Jellyfish,” Dorsey’s sequel to last year’s “Atomic Lobster,” manages to include diamond couriers, jewel thieves, Lynyrd Skynyrd, psychiatry, skinheads, Toby Keith, Monday Night Football, job fairs, Aileen Wuornos, phony motel coupons, a villain known as the Eel, Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton, an RV repairs scam, Marineland, Home Depot, a 1971 AMC Javelin, a stripping instructor, Dodgertown, the Allman Brothers, big sugar and John Travolta.

Somehow it all manages to hold together, although it would be stretching things to say it makes sense.

This is Dorsey’s 11th book. All feature a lovable, obsessive-compulsive psychopath named Serge Storms and his drug-addled sidekick, Coleman.

As always, Serge devises fiendishly inventive ways of killing people who will not be missed, this time fashioning lethal weapons out of garden hoses, a vegetable peeler, bicycle inner tubes, model railroad tracks, cardboard boxes and plug-in air fresheners.

Dorsey also brings back Mahoney, a Florida detective who is obsessed with tracking down Serge – and who, when he goes off his medication, talks like a cop from a 1940s noir movie.

The plot is launched when Serge sets off on his latest obsession: blogging about Florida for an online travel Web site. But he turns bitter when the site is unenthusiastic about his gruesome accounts of tourists getting carjacked.

Dorsey’s slapstick-noir novels are frowned on by people who feel that robbery, promiscuity, drug addition, torture and murder are not funny.

But if you couldn’t stop laughing when Bugs Bunny shot Elmer Fudd in the face, this is the writer you’ve been looking for.

Tags: books