"Amusing yet deadly serious crime thriller"
Tropical Storm Hector is playing havoc in the waters near
Miami Beach and most people are staying indoors rather than
go on the roads or sail their boats in the dangerous
ocean. The Extravaganza of the Sea is a cruise ship that
goes out past the three-mile limit into international
waters so the passengers can have an evening of gambling.
It is going out on the night Hector hits because it has a
scheduled rendezvous with another smaller boat based in the
Bahamas to exchange money for drugs.
Arnold and Phil, two senior citizens who escaped from the
Beaux Art senior center, just want to have some fun. Wally
and his band, Johnny and the Contusions, have to sing for
their supper. Fay, a single mother and cocktail waitress,
has to work if she wants to keep her job that pays the
bills. All these innocent people are caught up in the
crossfire when some of the criminals try to double cross
their partners in crime.
TRICKY BUSINESS sounds like a deadly serious crime thriller
and in part, it is exactly that. However, it is also a
hilarious comedy satirizing the worst things about cruise
ships. Dave Barry (that Dave Barry) has a unique serio-
comic voice that will appeal to readers who like Kinky
Friedman as obviously the President does. The characters
seem real as the innocents struggle with heroism just to
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted September 5, 2002
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.
What happens to them all in the midst of the fiercest storm
in years, the unpredictable ways in which this trip will
change their lives and send them ricocheting off each other
like a giant game of pinball, is the story of this
astonishing, wickedly satisfying, all-too-human novel by
"one of the funniest writers alive" (Carl Hiaasen).