Tropic of Stupid by Tim Dorsey

Published on December 07, 2021

The Tropic of Stupid Book Cover

Reviewed by Marybeth Ginsberg

The Tropic of Stupid (2021) is Tim Dorsey’s newest novel in the Serge Storms series. The novel features psychopath Serge A. Storms (taken from storm surge) as he embarks on a driving tour of Florida. The phrase “compulsively irreverent and shockingly funny” (Boston Globe) has been used to describe this madcap fictional tale. The plot includes many twists and turns that will keep the reader turning the pages.

Determined to have his annual state park passport stamped, Serge Storms leads the reader on a wild journey through the swamps of Florida with his drugged-out sidekick, Coleman. A Florida native with local expertise, Serge introduces Coleman to the Sunshine State’s beautiful parks. Using his DNA, Serge is also looking to trace his roots and connect to relatives while traveling.

When Serge realizes that he may be related to a deranged serial killer that has been on the loose for years, he takes charge, leading the chase. Serge views himself as a right fighter, always taking matters into his own hands and always going too far. He has a knack for detail and deception. He also likes a back story (as does Dorsey), and as events converge, he learns that one of his relatives is also working hard to capture the killer. 

Like Dorsey’s other novels, The Tropic of Stupid is set in Florida. Bits of Florida history and lore, combined with a riveting plot and clever writing make for an interesting book. Dorsey’s background in police work and knowledge of Florida’s flora and fauna is clearly evident throughout the novel. While I enjoyed piecing together the fateful events that come together as the mystery unfolds, Dorsey use of black humor as a literary technique may not be for everyone (fans of the TV series Dexter may enjoy this book.) Full of misadventure, this book is clever and entertaining from start to finish.

Favorite Quote: “Yeah, when I was a kid, we mailed in box tops. Now, it’s spit. Times change. But the anticipation was déjà vu, sitting by the mailbox each day, waiting for my happiness packages. Once it was a kit to join the Monkees fan club, then the Banana Splits fan club, Saturday-morning TV before your time.”

Tim Dorsey was a reporter and editor the Tampa Tribune from 1987 to 1999.  He is the author of twenty-three other novels that are set in Florida.

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