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Tricky Business Hardcover – September 30, 2002

3.6 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

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.
A.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (September 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399149244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399149245
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,260,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on November 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A farcical madcap romp in which literature collides with Dave Barry--in the Atlantic Ocean--and both get soaked. Other reviewers have outlined the plot. Basically a lot of people with different agendas get caught up in a midnight cruise on the Extravaganza of the Seas. Which is a more-or-less legal offshore gambling ship, as well as a strictly illegal drug-running ship.
While the characters are plotting and scheming, double-crossing each other, trying to have a little fun, or just trying to survive, the ship heads out into Hurricane Hector.
Barry tells the story with his usual comic flair, lots of bad words, his usual fascination with bodily fluids, a little adolescent sexuality, and a bottomless capacity to laugh at everything, including himself. Dave Barry is not a great novelist, knows it, doesn't take himself too seriously, and seemed to enjoy writing this book as much as I enjoyed reading it. I would have preferred a little less blood and gore, but hey! For what it was, it worked. If you're not too uptight, you will love it.
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By A Customer on October 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What does a giant pink conch, gas passing croupier, cocktail waitress/Coast Guard employee, horny cover band drummer and a gaggle of thugs have in common? Nothing, unless they're aboard a cruise ship in Dave Barry's "Tricky Business." Not quite as good as his first novel, "Big Trouble," but still pretty good, "Tricky," features Barry column staples: bodily function jokes, insights on the differences between the sexes - but those considering giving this book to young Barry fans, would do well to read the foreword, in which he states not one, but three times, that THIS BOOK CONTAINS SOME BAD WORDS. (Actually, more than a few.) Kudos for the warning, although those who are the most likely to get offended, probably won't read it.

Like "Big Trouble," "Tricky" has a plot hard to sum up in a few words, but involves sharply drawn "good" guys who eventually wind up in a contained space with the (far too many one syllable named) bad guys and mayhem results, along with an explanation of why women never seem to fart. Good read although I had to admit I missed Puggy, of the first book.
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Format: Hardcover
If you want to read a fun story that is an easy read and will make you laugh, pick up this book and enjoy yourself. If you are looking for serious literature with important insights on the human condition and the meaning of life, I suggest you look elsewhere.
This funny story set on a gambling boat sailing in a hurricane is quite witty and creative. Along the way Barry manages to skewer local news broadcasters, organized crime, backsliding professional musicians, senior citizens, and the primal urge to gamble.
The story itself which involves underworld drug dealing and profit skimming along with an action plot isn't all that important. It's merely there to give Barry an opportunity to make funny observations and create memorable characters.
The bottom line is that it's funny but I'm not sure I would recommend paying the full hardcover price for it. [...]
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I knew Barry could be hilarious in his essays, but I had never read any of his fiction. I picked the book to fill a square in the Bingo game run every summer by Books on the Nightstand. I needed an author born in the same year I was. My choices were Stephen King, Octavia Butler, Temple Grandin, and Dave Barry. I'm running out of time, so I picked the Barry book because it was short and cheap. I discovered that it is also very, very funny. I actually laughed out loud a couple of times. Apparently Barry's humor skills translate very well into fiction.

In a riff on the Ship-of-Fools trope, a gambling ship takes on an assortment of quirky characters, including drug smugglers, burned-out cover band members, senile citizens, an undercover cop, a costumed mascot, and assorted zombie slot-machine slaves. Chaos and hilarity ensue.

A fun summer read that puts me one square closer to my ambition of completing a blackout card. Four books to go before the Labor Day cutoff.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
It was an unexpected but pleasant surprise a few years ago to find that Dave Barry, whose column is read, laughed at, and enjoyed the world over by hundreds upon thousands of people, could actually write stories. But in his debut novel, Big Trouble, he proved just that. His follow up, Tricky Business, trails in the wake of 'Trouble'...literally. The story, about a casino cruise ship and those who come to find themselves upon it on a fateful 'dark and stormy night', has many of the same trappings that made Barry's first foray into fiction so well received. Here we have interesting characters (among them, the dysfunctional members of a band called Johnny and the Contusions, a few fed-up cocktail waitresses, and an endearing pair of nursing home rebellers - Arnie and Phil), a plot that twists, turns, and eventually comes together in a way that will make you smack your head in amazement when you finally realize what's really going on.
The only real departure in this book is the violence that Barry inflicts on some of the characters we become attached to. While every character in Big Trouble survived to the end of the book, the body count in Tricky Business is fairly high, sometimes even used as a dark joke (as is the case with some unfortunate workers at the fictious Newspex Nine news station). It is at the same time appropriate to the story and disturbing. One almost expects Barry to resurrect his fallen characters at some point before the end - though he never does. This is, however, a small bone to pick with a book that is laugh-out-loud funny and just as entertaining as anything else Barry has come up with.
And, if you're a fan of Dave's style, that's saying a lot.
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