Wednesday, September 29, 2021

What makes a Holmes and a Watson?

Today I was thoroughly enjoying Clownfish Blues by Tim Dorsey, my second dip into what I was surprised to find is a twenty-five book series. I stumbled into the series at book nineteen, a random find at the local library, and was delighted to find they had the next in the series, all the while not knowing I had missed eighteen previous books. (A very happy discovery, really.)

When listening to Coconut Cowboy, the previous book, I took Tim Dorsey as a writer in the school of Carl Hiaasen, whose books I had enjoyed back in the day: A writer squeezing all of Florida's idiosyncrasies for every bit of comedic juice he can get out of them. But in my second Dorsey excursion, a new realization dawned on me: These were tales of a Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

They aren't detective stories -- oh, hell no. The "Sherlock" of this team describes himself as a "sequential killer," as opposed to the typical serial killer. But, like Sherlock Holmes, we encounters people who have some issue in their lives and helps them deal with it outside the normal channels. That path is how he differentiates himself as a "sequential killer" -- he doesn't seek out victims, in the course of making life better for people, he just comes across people who just seem to need killed.

Unlike Dexter, the anti-hero of Dorsey's books, Serge Storm isn't really focusing on the murders, he's usually focused on something else entirely, like living out the lifestyle seen in the movie Easy Rider or the old TV show Route 66 for a time. Add in a fascination and encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Florida, whether history, biology, or culture, along with an eccentric genius for getting things done in unexpected, yet logical ways. He's a wonderfully complex and entertaining fellow, like Sherlock Holmes, living the life he's chosen for himself, again, like Sherlock Holmes.

His Watson, however, is a classic Watson in a model a lot of Watson fans might not like, but so true to the form. Remember Nigel Bruce's boobus Britannicus species of Watson? Well, Coleman, Serge's Watson, is a very American version of that. Constantly high or drunk in a very mellow "just living life" sort of way, Coleman is never quite sure where Serge is taking them, but is always completely agreeable for going along for the adventure. And like any good Watson, Coleman proves pretty useful on occasion, and serves as the perfect target for Serge Storm to explain everything a reader wants to hear.

Having only gotten to two books in this series, and those read perfectly by Oliver Wyman, I can't provide a full review of the series, but so far, I'm enjoying the hell out of them, and seeing the Holmes and Watson parallels in the characters of Serge and Coleman is offering some new insights on what really makes those two old favorites of ours so great. Recognizing something of the detective and the doctor in two individuals so very different in so many ways can be quite revealing.

Add in the fact that one can enjoy Florida's weirdness without actually being in Florida? (Sorry, Floridians, I am just not a humidity fan in the least. And we won't even get into the ocean or the swamps.) Perfect.

No comments:

Post a Comment