Orange Crush


Tim Dorsey




Date Reviewed:

November 24, 2007

he reviews invariably compare Orange Crush to the works of Carl Hiaasen, which is high praise indeed. The comparisons are easy, because most of Hiaasen's works are over-the-top stories about corruption and crazy people in Florida, and that is exactly what Orange Crush is all about. One major difference for me - I find that Hiaasen's books are funny, but I did not laugh once at anything in Orange Crush. True, there are some clever scenes, some witty lines, some situations that might have developed into funny material, but for whatever reason, I just didn't find Orange Crush to be funny. Humor is a difficult thing to explain, and for me, Tim Dorsey missed the mark. And if Orange Crush is not funny, then it has nothing else going for it, because the characters are stereotypes, and the plot is full of unbelievable events and coincidences.

Orange Crush is the story of the race for the election of Florida's next governer. Everyone involved is a caricature of greed and selfishness (which makes it pretty hard to like anyone.) The hero of the book is Marlon Conrad, the son of politician who is wholly owned by the special interests. Conrad is the same mold of his father, interested only in personal gain and fame - until he sent to Bosnia during the Kosovo War (his National Guard unit is called up for service, and unlike George W. Bush, he actually serves with his unit rather than getting a cushy transfer to stateside job.) The Bosnia chapters don't fit in well with the rest of the novel - you can't make a joke about people getting blown to pieces. Conrad survives and becomes a war hero, he is a shoe-in to win the next election. However, his experiences in the war zone have dramatically changed him. When Conrad returns to Florida, he is a full of a progressive agenda to actually help the citizens who will elect him - naturally, the lobbyists and power-brokers assume that Conrad is just dishing out traditional political promises, though he gets rather blunt and makes them nervous. Much of the humor is based on Conrad telling the truth in various absurd political situations, he refuses to play the election game by the rules.

One the major subplots is an invincible serial killer on the prowl, who writes messages with felt tipped pens on the chests of the victims. The serial killer always seems to find evildoers to slaughter, so I guess that makes the killer likable? No.

We get the side story of Helmut von Zeppelin, who uses his insider connections to have the taxpayers build him a beautiful new stadium for his own NFL franchise. Surprise, the citizens are royally screwed by this arrangement!

Conrad's opponent is Gomer Tatum, a man who is apparently interested only in eating himself to death, but he is egged on by his wife, the win-at-all-costs beautiful and amoral Jackie Monroeville.

Is it remotely plausible that candidates for governor would decide to have a wrestling match, WWF style? I guess if something is supposed to be funny, who cares if there is any logic to it? But the humor just wasn't up my alley, so I don't recommend this book.