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Tim Dorsey, who blended crime, comedy in Florida-based novels, dead at 62

The Florida-based author blended crime, history and an outrageous sense of humor in his novels.

Author Tim Dorsey, who blended crime and outrageous comedy in his 26 novels about Florida-based eccentric serial killer Serge A. Storms and his druggie sidekick Coleman, died Sunday. He was 62.

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Dorsey’s death was announced Monday by his daughter, Erin Appleton-Dorsey, which was then posted on Facebook to the private group Tampa Tribune Alumni. Dorsey worked for that newspaper for a dozen years.

His death was also confirmed by William Morrow publicity director Danielle Bartlett, according to The Associated Press.

Dorsey, who had recently suffered from health issues, died at his Florida Keys home in Islamorada, the Tampa Bay Times reported.”

“This is a story I wish I didn’t have to write,” the newspaper’s book editor, Colette Bancroft, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Born in Indiana in 1961, Dorsey’s family moved to Florida when he was a baby, according to the newspaper. He grew up in Riviera Beach; his 21st novel, “The Pope of Palm Beach,” was published in 2018 and centered around the South Florida city of his youth.

Dorsey graduated from Auburn University and then worked at The Alabama Journal, the Times reported. He joined The Tampa Tribune in 1987 and worked as a political reporter, copy editor and night metro editor. He left the Tribune in January 1999, a day after his first novel, “Florida Roadkill,” was published.

His most recent work, “The Maltese Iguana,” was published in February 2023.

Dorsey, a mild-mannered person in the newsroom, channeled his love of Florida history and his knowledge of crime as he developed the character of Serge A. Storms. The character was an obsessive-compulsive serial killer who came up with novel and fiendish ways to murder Florida thugs who deserved their fate, the AP reported.

“When he started writing a series about an insane serial killer, I thought, how long can that (B.S.) go on?” Randy Wayne White, a friend and fellow author, told the Times on Tuesday. “But he wrote about every nook and cranny of Florida. He colonized it. That will last. He was not a haphazard researcher; he was a field historian. Plus the books are freaking hilarious.

“Humor plus history -- that’s a winning combination.”

Dorsey’s titles were also inventive. They include “The Big Bamboo,” “Nuclear Jellyfish,” “When Elves Attack,” “Pineapple Grenade,” “No Sunscreen for the Dead,” “Naked Came the Florida Man” and “The Tropic of Stupid,” according to the AP.

Dorsey nearly killed off Storms in his first novel but decided to let him live. It was a canny move.

“After (Serge’s) second rant, it was a revelation: This is the main character,” Dorsey told the Times in a 2022 interview. I could see where I needed to go -- adjust my coordinates. So in the second draft, I made him the main guy.

“Luckily, I said to myself, ‘Don’t kill him off. You’re going to need this guy.’”

Florida’s villains did not need Storms. But Dorsey’s readers did.

Dorsey is survived by his daughters, Appleton-Dorsey and Kelsey Dorsey.