cover image Swamp Story

Swamp Story

Dave Barry. Simon & Schuster, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-9821-9133-7

Crime fiction doesn’t come much funnier than this Florida-set caper from Barry (Insane City), in which a lucky find precipitates a cascade of unexpected consequences. Jesse Braddock lives in the Everglades with Willa, her baby daughter, and Slater, Willa’s deadbeat father. She has little hope for a better life until she stumbles on a cache of gold bars, supposedly a buried Confederate Army payroll shipment. But the treasure has already captured the interest of some ex-cons who plotted to find it during their time in prison. Meanwhile, the enterprising owner of a local beer and bait shop concocts a harebrained get-rich-quick scheme: he employs a down-on-his-luck journalist to don a Dora the Explorer costume and pretend to be the mythical Everglades Melon Monster so he can lure tourists to the area in search of it. That scheme results in an influx of visitors at the very moment Braddock hopes to evade the treasure-seekers and make off with her life-changing fortune. Barry conducts the hijinks like a maestro of comic suspense. Carl Hiaasen fans will be in heaven. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (May)