As a hurricane approaches the Florida coast, a casino ship known as the Extravaganza of the Seas heads out to international waters for a turbulent night of drug trafficking, betrayal, and murder.
Among many on board are Wally, a 29-year-old cover band guitarist who lives with his mother after being cheated on by his fiancée; Fay, a cocktail waitress whose mother has to help take care of her 2-year-old daughter because her ex-husband is a deadbeat dad; and Manny Arquero, a muscular enforcer for the mob boss pulling all the strings.
There is a vast cast of characters and while they are all relatively cliché, humorist Dave Barry does an excellent job setting up each individual’s background story and making us feel sympathetic to the underdogs and malevolent toward the villains. We get a good sense of who each character is, what the protagonists want, and what the antagonists are up to.
There are some chuckles to be had thanks mainly to the cover band and to a pair of retirement home escapees. Having said that, the old-folks-are-slow-and-sleepy jokes grow weary as the story unfolds.
The biggest surprise when reading this was that whitebread incarnate Dave Barry described the drummer of the band going down on a beautiful woman and being farted on mid act. I was absolutely shocked. It didn’t make me laugh, but my jaw dropped to the floor. Squeaky clean Dave Barry had published something more foul than I had ever even imagined. Frankly, it made me feel like less of a man.
But it still didn’t make me laugh and for some reason, Barry ran with it. A beauty who ceaselessly drops silent-but-deadly farts apparently without even realizing it. Over and over and over. Just dumb.
Stephen King, on the other hand, was quoted at the beginning of the book saying, “I laughed so hard I fell out of a chair.” I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that he read Tricky Business during his drug addiction days and his amusement and coordination difficulties had more to do with the cocaine and methamphetamines than the silent-but-deadly assassin.
Having said that, I enjoyed Barry’s overall style of writing. Fast-paced, snarky, and full of vivid descriptions that were sometimes humorous and sometimes horrifying.
To sum up, while this book is not hysterical, there are some laughs to be had and it makes for a pleasing read with a nice cockle-warming wrap up at the end. 3.5 pearls rounded up to 4.
Despite my somewhat unenthusiastic review, if you decide to purchase this book, please click here to purchase on Amazon where as an affiliate, I’ll earn a tiny fraction of the price while it won’t cost you even a penny more.
Bonus quote (in this case, from Barry’s Acknowledgements): I thank my two wonderful children, Rob and Sophie, although I forbid Sophie from reading this book, assuming that she learns to read.
For immediate entrance to Heaven upon your demise, save the above Amazon link as a favorite and use it for all your shopping at Amazon. I’ll receive a tiny fraction of the price of everything you buy and it will never cost you an extra cent. It would be hugely appreciated as I could really use a shot of peach schnapps right now.