Tricky business

Dave Barry

Book - 2002

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FICTION/Barry, Dave
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New York : Putnam's c2002.
Physical Description
320 p.
Main Author
Dave Barry (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Barry delivers plenty of laughs and action in his second foray into fiction, following Big Trouble (1999). Extravaganza of the Seas is a gambling boat owned by one of the biggest swindlers in all of Florida, Bobby Kemp. However, Kemp himself is being swindled by some local but powerful thugs. Lou Tarant and his boys are running a smuggling business on the Extravaganza, and Kemp is mad that he doesn't get a kickback. On the night of a furious tropical storm, Kemp gets some thugs of his own and decides to take action. Of course, Barry treats us to amusing depictions of some of the other characters on the ship: Fay, an overworked waitress; Wally, a member of the ship's band; and Arnie and Phil, on the lam from their senior center after a hilarious escape. When Kemp's plan goes disastrously awry, this colorful cast of characters is thrust into the middle of a fight between the double-crossing thugs. Barry garners plenty of laughs, especially in the scenes involving the senior center and its residents, as well as those involving a hapless, weather-obsessed news station. Fans of outlandish comic fiction, as well as Barry's columns, will find much to enjoy here. ((Reviewed September 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Ship of Fools? Barry follows up Big Trouble, his fiction debut, with a tale about a bunch of kooky characters who have sailed three miles off Florida's shore for a little gambling. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Humorist Barry demonstrates once again that he has reached that plateau of success where he can do no wrong-almost. This second novel represents something of a decline from Big Trouble, his first venture into fiction, which emerged as an incident-crowded mystery topped off with rapid-fire laughs and a dash of satire. This time, the laughs are not much more than titters, and the incidents are only intermittently compelling. In brief, the story is built around events on one of the floating casinos that takes paying customers three miles off the Florida coast each night to gamble. It leads readers into a crazy complexity of money laundering, drug dealing, murder, sex, violence, hijacking, and undercover work. As it is written by Barry, the book probably will meet with a certain amount of popular favor, but a caveat is in order: This is not the Barry of his syndicated columns or his nonfiction books. As he himself puts it, "This book contains some bad words," which he justifies by saying that his "unsavory characters" talk that way. A likely story. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/02.]-A.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Humorist Barry (Big Trouble) brings together a motley group of South Florida eccentrics on an ill-fated casino boat voyage in his second full-length comic mystery novel. A tropical storm is bearing down on the Florida coast, but the Extravaganza of the Seas, a luxury gambling ship, sets sail on its nightly excursion in spite of the weather. Aboard are Fay Benton, an attractive cocktail waitress trying to make ends meet for her kid; a collection of pot-smoking would-be rockers (at least one of whom lives with his mother) who make up the ship's band, Johnny and the Contusions; a pair of wise-cracking octogenarians who've escaped an extended-care facility; and some Mafia-connected gangsters who use the ship's nightly voyages to smuggle drugs onto the mainland. Bobby Kemp, the ship's titular owner, insists that the Extravaganza go out in the storm because he's chosen this night to hijack the drug deal. In the background, a local television station plays a role straight from Keystone Kops as its reporters frantically cover the approaching storm with consistently fatal results. Barry once again showcases his gently satiric style, with barbs aimed at overbearing mothers, corrupt officials, inept authorities and, of course, the American crime novel itself, which he sends up with absurd plotting, astronomical body count and plenty of gratuitous nudity and (PG-rated) sex. Belying self-deprecating disclaimers about his talent for fiction, Barry demonstrates that he can draw some captivating characters and keep a reader's attention in spite of-or perhaps because of-slapstick antics and a fascination with scatology. (Oct. 1) Forecast: Barry's name could sell a VCR manual, but he's taken the time to write a winner, anyway. Expect this to match or surpass the performance of Big Trouble. Author tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An unusual assortment of passengers, including Fay Benton, a cocktail waitress and single mother, and hired killer Lou Tarant embark on a voyage aboard the Extravaganza of the Seas, a gambling ship with another mysterious function.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An unusual assortment of passengers, including Fay Benton, a cocktail waitress and single mother, and hired killer Lou Tarrant embark on a voyage aboard the Extravaganza of the Seas, a gambling ship with another mysterious function. Reprint.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The Extravaganza of the Seas is a five-thousand-ton cash cow, a top-heavy tub whose sole function is to carry gamblers three miles from the Florida coast, take their money, then bring them back so they can find more money. In the middle of a tropical storm one night, these characters are among the passengers it carries: Fay Benton, a single mom and cocktail waitress desperate for something to go right for once; Johnny and the Contusions, a ship's band with so little talent they are . . . well, the ship's band; Arnold and Phil, two refugees from the Beaux Arts Senior Center; Lou Tarant, a wide, bald man who has killed nine people, though none recently; and an assortment of uglies whose job it is to facilitate the ship's true business, which is money-laundering or drug-smuggling or . . . something.