Monday, November 21, 2011

Sandie's Corner - When Elves Attack by Tim Dorsey

When Elves Attack: A Joyous Christmas Greeting from the Criminal Nutbars of the Sunshine State (Serge Storms Mystery #14)
by Tim Dorsey
Morrow, 2011 (10/25/11) 
ISBN 0062092847 (ISBN13: 9780062092847)

There’s about to be a huge confrontation at the end of Triggerfish Lane.  Jim Davenport is in great danger. 

It all starts in this Christmas tale when Serge A. Storms and his sidekick Coleman move into a rental home across Triggerfish Lane from the Davenports, unbeknownst to them.  It is Thanksgiving Day, and Martha Davenport, Jim’s wife, is in a foul mood because her mother-in-law has come to visit, bringing her own food and a gallon of bleach.  Martha’s daughter Nicole is dating a scumbag named Snake, and Nicole desperately wants a tattoo.

After their makeshift dinner, Serge and Coleman go to the mall wearing elf suits and shoes.  When Coleman wants to know why, Serge explains that Christmas should be about the innocence of children, not quarrels and wars and ordering people around; not fearing which holiday greeting to use, one with the word Christmas in it or the more generic “Season’s Greetings.”  Serge wants Christmas back! 

After their own dinner, Jim and Martha Davenport also visit the shopping mall.  They witness a mall cop scaring and yelling at a group of young children.  Martha intervenes and is told to “butt out.”  That offends Jim and he steps in, so the cop says he’ll throw Jim out along with his wife.  Martha decides to report the mall cop for his bullying behavior, anonymously, of course.  While Jim is waiting on Martha, Serge and Coleman run into him.  After hearing about the mall cop, Serge and Coleman wait until they catch up with the cop later in the men’s room.  Behind the anonymity of their elf suits, they beat the mall cop up, kicking and stomping, but they make the mistake of mentioning the Davenports by name. 

Later on Serge and Coleman make a visit to the Davenports at home.  Jim answers the door while Martha goes ballistic.  Martha still hasn’t gotten over their last encounter.  Serge is off his meds again (still), and he wants to learn to emulate his hero – Jim Davenport, whom we first met in TRIGGERFISH TWIST, my favorite of the 14 Serge Storms books penned by Tim Dorsey, a series that began with FLORIDA ROADKILL.  Serge takes a chance and has a heart to heart talk with Nicole about family.  Serge even arranges for her tattoo which, when revealed, leaves Jim and Martha speechless.

The next day Jim Davenport goes to work and assumes his identity as Jensen Beach, consultant with Sunshine Solutions.  While his specialty is everything, he doesn’t know anything about anything.  Jim doesn’t really consult; he fires people.  That’s what the companies who hire him want.  Most of the firings are unjust, so the companies want a consultant to do the dirty deed and shift the fired employee’s anger to the consultant rather than the employer.  Jim feels fortunate to be able to take the next logical step.  Because of all the firings usually ordered by top management, the companies are left understaffed and need qualified workers.  Jim knows just where to look for new workers – the totally qualified employees he has just fired.  Jim’s bosses are happy, the employees are happy, and Jim gets a company car and a promotion.

Jim’s first stop for work that day is the mall.  After the mall manager fires the mall cop, he is feeling pretty good until Jensen Beach aka Jim Davenport arrives … and fires him!  A light bulb goes off in the manager’s head – that anonymous report.   The mall cop walks into the manager’s office, and the two men struggle over the one copy of Martha Davenport’s complaint.

The fired mall cop had done his best to restore the copy of the anonymous complaint so that he could read just part of the address.  He had three possibilities to check out.

The ex-manager stewed until he thought to check Facebook for Martha Davenport where he sees Martha in a family portrait with … Jensen Beach?

Serge has been studying Jim carefully, doing things to excess the way that only Serge can do, even though this is a short book of just under 200 pages.  He realizes before Jim does that he’s about to be confronted by a crowd of angry people with nothing left to lose.  With the help of some wayward women whose names begin with an “E”, they concoct the solution.

Serge tries to do Thanksgiving and Christmas like an average Joe, but he just can’t do it.  Dorsey must include those traits that make Serge the nutball that he is.  He also keeps Coleman ever searching for his next unique method of getting high. Dorsey makes use of everything at his disposal including stories torn from today’s headlines, tools such as Facebook (the preferred method of contacting atypical individuals), and both new and old electronics.  Yet, Dorsey doesn’t take away any of Serge’s love for vintage Florida and everything that might include, which in this case is Serge’s memories of former Christmases.  Dorsey has included every holiday tradition available, liberally dropping brand names throughout.  He is zany, bizarre, insane, madcap, wacky, crazy, and uses every screwball move he can think of to save Serge’s hero, Jim Davenport.  And in this female’s opinion, Serge is spot on as he explains to men the secret of dealing with women, and that alone makes this book priceless.

Does Serge succeed in saving Jim and the Davenport family? Does he end the war on Christmas?  I can’t tell you that or you won’t have the fun of reading the book.  I can tell you that you’ll have an absolute blast finding out.

Sandie Herron
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Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like a fun book with a great character...and 'tis the season to read it, for sure! Thanks, Sandie.

Lesa said...

Sandie wasn't able to post, but this is from her - Reading WHEN ELVES ATTACK was great fun. I found myself laughing out loud and shaking my head in disbelief. Only Tim Dorsey could write a truly wacky Christmas tale. We're at exactly the right time of year to enjoy this book most! Thanks so much for your interest. Sandie

Teela said...