Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Dave Barry

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-399-14924-4
Publisher: Putnam

The master of American poop ’n’ doody–based satire returns to the Miami Crime-a-rama scene of his debut novel (Big Trouble, 1999).

The problem with fiction is that it’s really, really hard to make up stuff as stupid as the real-life lunacy Barry routinely exposes in his humor columns. But he gives it a good try. The main targets are crumb-ball floating gambling casinos and local TV news. The Extravaganza of the Seas, a highly profitable commercial venture owned by entrepreneur Bobby Kemp, steams daily into international waters to accommodate the deep-seated need of low-income Americans to get rid of the little money they have as quickly as possible. Skippered by a reformed cocaine junky, the Extravaganza features: a free buffet that nobody touches because it’s always the same “food”; hard-luck waitresses; an evil croupier who reports to the local crime boss rather than the hapless owner; and a never-made-it rock band with orders not to distract the gamblers. And the ship has a second mission. Every now and then it heaves to on the open seas to off-load lots of cash and on-load lots of drugs, a task assigned by crime boss Lou Tarant and deeply resented by Bobby Kemp, who doesn’t make a cent on the sideline. Tarant’s relentless greed sends the ship and its load of nitwits, crooks, musicians, and slot-machine–obsessed Cuban grandmas into the teeth of hurricane Hector for an especially large pharmaceutical transaction complicated by a double-crossing coke shipper, his gang of hard-puking seasick cutthroats, a giant latex conch, a couple of wisecracking escapees from a senior center, and the deep longing of the band’s lead guitar for Fay, the pretty, long-legged, single mum waitress who is more than she appears to be. Louder than the increasing winds are the hysterical TV weather-ravings of NewsPlex Nine.

Low humor that will appeal to all those guys who keep America moving slightly off-course and to the women who love them.