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5.0 out of 5 stars An Almost Laugh Out Loud South Florida Caper
Welcome Dave Barry's second and most enjoyable novel. This time around, he moves closer into Carl Hiaasen's domain of South Florida social commentary. The book opens with the approach of (soon to be) Hurricane Hector which is destined to cross paths with The Extravaganza Of The Seas (a three-mile limit gambling cruise ship) and the various characters fated to be on board...
Published on April 18 2003 by Robert Edler

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3.0 out of 5 stars It's all too familiar.
When Big Trouble was published a few years ago, it felt like a mix of the best of Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard. Big Trouble was entertaining, had quirky characters and, most importantly, was gut-wrenching funny. Now, Dave Barry is back with Tricky business. And although the novel has an interesting premise and a somewhat more serious storyline (and by that, I mean a...
Published on Jan. 6 2003 by Sebastien Pharand


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4.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud ~ you have to, June 25 2004
By 
Elsie Wilson (Aberystwyth, Cymru) - See all my reviews
Dave Barry's humour column is very spotty, in my opinion. Sometimes he is enormously funny; other times he writes as though he is straining, and unable to pass anything. That made this book all the more pleasurable, because there was nothing strained about it. Strange, yes; the characters, the plot, the whole thing. But strained? No way. It flowed like olive oil through pasta: easy, fast, smooth, and fragrant.
The plot is reminiscent of Elmore Leonard more than anything else, with twists and turns, coincidences and surprises, and lots and lots of bad guys with varying levels of brutality. The writing, however, reminded me more of Kurt Vonnegut than any other author ~ and that is a definite compliment. Barry is completely deadpan the whole way through; like Vonnegut, he never lets on that he is hilariously funny. The writing is deceptively simple, as is Vonnegut's; though in Barry's case he doesn't have quite the same underlying gloomy philosophy portrayed with simplicity.
There are a ggod number of elements of humour here: The characters ~ several of whom have to be among the most silly you've read about for a long time; the violence ~ absurd, over the top, unbelievable; the plot ~ twisted, and bizarre; the gratuitous and out of place sex ~ including an unbearable farting beauty; and the use of language, which is more under Barry's control than he often has it. Altogether, this is perhaps the funniest book i've read since "Final Arrangements", which is, again, no mean compliment.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, May 26 2004
By 
M. McClure "damack1" (Pelham, AL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I picked up this book because I like Dave Barry's columns, and I ofen find them to be laugh-out-loud funny, even the juvenile scatological parts. I hadn't read his previous novel, but I saw this one and picked it up on the spur of the moment. I'd have to say I was disappointed.
In the first place, it was advertised as light-hearted fun. I didn't find it all that funny, and the graphic violence spoiled the momentum of what funny parts there were. Just as I was starting to chuckle at something a little amusing, something awful would happen, and I'd say to myself, "Hey, this isn't funny." (...)
In the preface, Mr. Barry mentions that he had gotten some negative feedback from his previous book about bad language. He goes on to say that the books are about bad guys, so naturally there will be bad language. Well, okay, I didn't mind the language. But I did mind the violence.
It comes down to this for me: broad comedy doesn't mix well with graphic violence. You need to make a choice about what kind of book you want to write. If you want to write a book about vicious killers, don't try to make it funny. If you're trying to write a funny book, don't write about vicious killers. It's that simple.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 'Business' proves Barry still has a few tricks up his sleeve, Dec 26 2003
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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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2.0 out of 5 stars What the hell happened to Dave?!, Sept. 4 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Tricky Business (Hardcover)
Tricky Business starts off with a written warning: "THIS BOOK CONTAINS SOME BAD WORDS," and says to not read the book if you don't like four-letter words. But most people that read this book are his loyal fans, and I am among them. I really enjoy Dave Barry's humor. I am not against swearing if it's necessary in context, but this book goes so far over the top with profanity that it becomes tedious to read. It's just "F**K," "F**K," and more "F**K." This is highly uncharacteristic of Dave, as he hardly ever swears, even in his nonfiction books, and this book is a terrible first impression for a newcomer to his humor. If I had never heard of Dave Barry, I would have put this book down 2/3 of the way through (if I made it to there) and dismissed him as a sorry loser who needs to get a grip on life. He is not. He's a talented humorist.
So, maybe you're thinking, "He's Dave Barry! He must have written SOMETHING funny in this book!" The answer is yes, though barely. When he talks about the band members or the two retirees, there is a charm, however brief. When he talks about the scummy drug dealers, he goes so far off the deep end that it almost crosses the line into self parody.
Take for instance, where Tark gratuitously cuts off Juan's nose and his ......, delivered in such a mean-spirited, graphic manner that only a sick cretin (much like modern-day George Carlin) could have written it. Also, take for instance the part where Tark sticks tape over Frank's mouth, which is bleeding, so Frank is forced to swallow his own blood and choke on his own vomit. Take for instance, the totally unnecessary sex between Lou Tarant and his secretary Dee Dee while he finds out a crucial piece of information over the phone. Every single thing mentioned above is without a trace of humor. They are also clearly not intended for laughs, and they are totally out of place. They belong in a disturbing crime novel, not a Dave Barry book.
As I said above, I'm not against those sort of things, as long as they are justified. Here they are not. Tricky Business is a bloated, self-indulgent 300+ page book, a sadly disappointing thing from any so called humorist, much less Dave, who is a very funny person. If his subsequent novels are like this, I'll probably hesitate at the thought to read anything by him again.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The joke is on the reader..., Aug. 27 2003
By 
Daniel L Edelen (Mt. Orab, OH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tricky Business (Hardcover)
What is the sound of no one laughing?
Answer: the same sound as one would hear in a room wherein someone is reading Dave Barry's sophomore novel, "Tricky Business."
Good grief! Does it get more soporific than this?
After a long time avoiding fiction, soaking up facts in the nonfiction world, I returned with a vengeance hoping to bolster my own writing skills. What I have found is one pretentious, pointless, or boring read after another.
Surely Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry can save the day!
But, alas, "Tricky Business" has as much wit as a coma victim. Most thirteen year old boys have a more fully realized arsenal of funny scenarios rattling around in their bags of scatology, as well.
Writing about his favorite topic, Miami sleaze, Barry introduces us to a wasted bar band, a couple wrinkled elders acting half their age, the Mob (of course) and all their lackeys, a down-on-his-luck ship captain, a frustrated single mom working beneath her abilities as a cocktail waitress, and a surly conch, all converging on the aptly named casino boat, The Extravaganza of the Seas, during a tropical storm. There's a plot to doublecross the mobsters and, well...actually that's the only real plot. Can't really make much of any subplots worth mentioning. Sadly, the parts - which do have potential - never add up to anything. Three hundred and change pages later and you've got one giant ho-hum... and the aforementioned lack of mirth doesn't help, either.
What really disturbs me about this book is its mean spirit. Barry has a warning at the beginning about the language, since many of his readers objected to the obscenities in his previous novel, "Big Trouble." I forget which comedian told the story that his mother warned him never to work "blue", and I can tell you that Barry should have heeded that guy's mom. The profanity, adult situations, and grisly nature of "Tricky Business" just make it wearying. A humorist should know that the F-word just isn't all that funny anymore. Someone like P. J. O'Rourke can write a piece and make it totally ribald, but his choice of funnier (and cleaner) words for profanities takes his work to higher level. Barry, so clever in his column, should know this, but he abandons wisdom in favor of lowbrow mucking about. Boo.
Hopefully Barry will rebound with his next novel, but he's got to work his fiction-writing chops up a notch. The writing here is just poor: bad plotting, underdeveloped characters, and a pacing that needs a transfusion of adrenaline. When your novel isn't funny, lacks suspense, and doesn't really say anything about the human condition, it's time to get the number of a good book doctor.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very fun book, Aug. 17 2003
This review is from: Tricky Business (Hardcover)
The Extravaganza of the Seas is the setting for this novel. It's a floating casino that goes 3 miles off the Florida coast every night. But this ship is more than a casino, it's also used to smuggle drugs into the country.
A prominent gangster quickly approaches Bobby Kemp, a small-time crook who owns the Happy Conch restaurant chain, soon after his purchase of the Extravaganza. Lou Tarant makes it very clear who is boss to Bobby who then vows to get back at him some day.
One night, tropical storm Hector is blowing heavy winds along the coast, but Bobby insists that the Extravaganza still go out that evening. We then meet a very colourful cast of characters among which are the onboard gangsters; the ship's not-so-good band; Phil and Arnie, two octogenarians who "escape" their retirement home regularly for an evening of fun and gambling; and a cocktail waitress looking to earn a decent living for her daughter. On shore, the NewsPlex Nine reporters are out and are trying to keep the public informed about this storm, but trouble seems to follow these reporters wherever they go.
The story is funny and you can't help but love the bumbling cast of characters. Having read this book, I now really want to read Dave Barry's first novel, Big Trouble.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A really fun book, Aug. 17 2003
This review is from: Tricky Business (Hardcover)
The Extravaganza of the Seas is the setting for this novel. It's a floating casino that goes 3 miles off the Florida coast every night. But this ship is more than a casino, it's also used to smuggle drugs into the country.
A prominent gangster quickly approaches Bobby Kemp, a small-time crook who owns the Happy Conch restaurant chain, soon after his purchase of the Extravaganza. Lou Tarant makes it very clear who is boss to Bobby who then vows to get back at him some day.
One night, tropical storm Hector is blowing heavy winds along the coast, but Bobby insists that the Extravaganza still go out that evening. We then meet a very colourful cast of characters among which are the onboard gangsters; the ship's not-so-good band; Phil and Arnie, two octogenarians who "escape" their retirement home regularly for an evening of fun and gambling; and a cocktail waitress looking to earn a decent living for her daughter. On shore, the NewsPlex Nine reporters are out and are trying to keep the public informed about this storm, but trouble seems to follow these reporters wherever they go.
The story is funny and you can't help but love the bumbling cast of characters. Having read this book, I now really want to read Dave Barry's first novel, Big Trouble.
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2.0 out of 5 stars This book is awful. I am not making this up., July 4 2003
By 
J. Eubanks (North Texas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tricky Business (Hardcover)
Fans of Miami Herald humorist Dave Barry know his trademarks well. He has a rapier wit, especially when it comes to mutant constipated worms and the social infrastructure of exploding toilets. He has a way of saying what the layperson is thinking with hilarious results. And as he showed us in his fictional debut with "Big Trouble," he can weave a bunch of flat stereotypes into one massive interrelated plot and make us care about their individual fates simultaneously.
Not so with "Tricky Business," a waterbound thriller that owes more than a little to the stylings of fellow Floridian Carl Hiaasen. TB takes the same idea that Big Trouble had - that is, to take a dozen initially unrelated characters and have all their stories magically relate by book's end - but executes it miserably. It's horrible to say that Dave Barry has typecast himself into strict comedy, but he has, and the rampant violence, sex, and coarse language that feature prominently on almost every page in the book are neither a true indication nor a good first impression of Barry's real abilities. While I'll spare you from detailed accounts of the various scenes other Amazon.com reviewers have seemingly eagerly piped up about, I will say that they are least representative of the Dave all fans of his column know and love, and that the warning that appears before the story is almost ESRB-ish in that it is a bad indicator of what really lies inside this needlessly vulgar novel.
Not only is it nasty beyond reason, it takes forever to get anywhere. The hardback clocks in at 224 pages, and even at 150 pages nothing that is on par with the constant thrill ride of Big Trouble has occurred yet. This lack of action in 150 pages would be fine in a book like the uncut version of "The Stand" (~1150 pages), but if you only had only 74 pages left, wouldn't you start worrying too?
Dave Barry may think he's struck a niche with this sort of bombastic character-oriented miscellany, but he's way out of his league. The only characters he knows are bland with archetypes that can only come out of The Big Book O' Cliches. However, Big Trouble was successful because the situation at hand allowed us to care about those characters. These cardboard cutouts he has created are silhouettes, devoid of personality and humor, but possessing a mean-spirited darkness that is enough unlike Barry's renowned wit to be a turnoff.
The only ones keeping this book from receiving one less star, as a matter of fact, are the grumpy old men (not Lemmon and Matthau). Unfortunately, their wizened lungs don't have enough fresh breath to resuscitate this casino-centric novel whose trolling motor sputters and dies before it even gets out of shallow waters.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Misfires with gratuitous violence and sex, April 30 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Tricky Business (Hardcover)
"Tricky Business" is the story of a rundown cruise ship that makes nightly runs three miles offshore so people can gamble away their money. Of course, being a Dave Barry book, it includes a large assortment of oddball characters, including a pothead guitarist, a single-mom cocktail waitress, a guy in a conch costume, and an entrepreneur who specializes in both newspaper-filled car air bags and badly augmented breasts.
As someone who giggled and guffawed his way through Dave Barry's "Big Trouble," I eagerly awaited his second novel, fully expecting the same gonzo writing that made his first book so appealing. But when I sat down to read "Tricky Business," I instead found gangsters killing each other in ever more inventive and bloody ways, a repulsively detailed mass-vomiting scene, and truly gratuitous amounts of sex.
And yet the book would have been acceptable even with all this, had it been funny. Instead, the belly laughs that made "Big Trouble" so enjoyable are largely absent in this book, mostly replaced by weak grins and an occasional chuckle. There are a few very comical scenes involving such oddities as flatulence during sex and how the band winds up on this cruise ship to hell; these alone save "Tricky Business" from a one-star rating. But when I pick up a Dave Barry book, I really don't want to read in excruciating detail about how one lowlife amputates various body parts off another lowlife. I can see stuff like that on the evening news for free.
Sadly, Dave Barry has badly misfired with "Tricky Business." He should steer clear of murderously unfunny criminals and get back to what he's best at, namely booger jokes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Almost Laugh Out Loud South Florida Caper, April 18 2003
By 
Robert Edler "Master Of Mystery" (Saint Louis, Missouri USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tricky Business (Hardcover)
Welcome Dave Barry's second and most enjoyable novel. This time around, he moves closer into Carl Hiaasen's domain of South Florida social commentary. The book opens with the approach of (soon to be) Hurricane Hector which is destined to cross paths with The Extravaganza Of The Seas (a three-mile limit gambling cruise ship) and the various characters fated to be on board her at the time.
Included in this mismatched character conglomeration are Fay (a single mom and cocktail waitress), Wally (member of the ship's semi-untalented band Johnny and the Contusions), Arnie and Phil (a couple of gambling addicts from a senior citizens home) and tons of assorted hulks, brutes, cons and other sordid, devious or just plain kooky characters. With a group like this, anything can and does happen. Especially once the storm starts mixing things up.
Though I believe I enjoy his first novel BIG TROUBLE a bit more, Barry is in pretty good form with TRICKY BUSINESS and he provides a plot and characters that will take you from mildly to wildly funny. I enjoyed it, and if you enjoy a good laugh with a good book you will, too. It earned my **** rating.
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Tricky Business
Tricky Business by Dave Barry (Hardcover - Oct. 1 2002)
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