Big Trouble (novel)

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Big Trouble
Cover of Big Trouble
Author Dave Barry
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel/ Humor
Publisher Putnam
Publication date
September 1999
ISBN 978-0-399-14567-4
OCLC 41017558
813/.54 21
LC Class PS3552.A74146 B54 1999

Big Trouble is a novel written by Dave Barry. It was made into a film in 2001. However, the film was not released until 2002 because of the September 11 attacks. Barry, a longtime columnist for The Miami Herald, set the novel's events in and around Miami, Florida.

The book's plot-line is the plot-line of the film. The book is more detailed, and ironic. For example, how Eliot, at the end, gets a job being a copywriter for the Seminal Fluids (which he detests) because of the submission, by his client, of his client's artwork in his name, which is suitably rude and crass as to gain the attention and accolade of the Seminal Fluids' management. There is an ongoing joke about subcontractors, and how they tend to get knocked-off in boating accidents, when they become a political/legal hot potato—and how that fate eventually finds Arthur.


The story follows a number of people as they go about their lives. A boy, Matt, is involved in a high school game called Killer. He must squirt a girl named Jenny with a water gun, but with only one witness. Attempting to sneak into her house at night, Matt takes everyone completely by surprise, causing Jenny and her mother, Anna, to attack him, and Jenny's mean stepfather, Arthur, to fall over—just missing being hit by two hitmen who also showed up. The housemaid, a young Mexican immigrant named Nina, panics and runs from the house towards the hitmen. She is rescued by a young homeless man named Puggy, who was living in a tree on the property.

After the hitmen leave, the two talk and instantly fall in love. Two police officers, Monica and Walter, arrive and call Matt's divorced father, Eliot, who comes over and becomes instantly attracted to Anna, while Matt becomes attracted to Jenny. The police dismiss Matt and Eliot and question Arthur about whether or not he has any enemies. Arthur denies this; however, he is actually guilty of embezzling money from the less-than-honest company that he works for to pay off gambling debts. Realizing that his life is on the line, Arthur wants to turn in the company to save himself, and decides at the last minute to get a bomb so that the police will take him seriously.

Later, Jenny, Matt, and Andrew (the one witness and Matt's friend at school) agree to meet at the back of a nearby mall for Matt to "kill" Jenny. Just as he's about to squirt her, a police-wannabe thinks that Matt is using a real gun on Jenny and opens fire with his own gun. Matt and Jenny, frightened, head to Jenny's house to call the police. Andrew runs away and is caught by the same two police officers who investigated the shooting at Arthur's house. After confiscating the man's gun, they decide to head to Jenny's house to find Jenny and Matt.

Meanwhile, Arthur goes to a nearby bar and grill which is actually a cover for two Russian arms dealers. He is about to buy a bomb from them when he, the two Russians, and Puggy (who got a job at the bar) are held up by Snake and Eddie, two criminals who were kicked out of the bar for being disorderly and who held a grudge against the place. After stealing the bomb, they mistake Arthur for a kingpin and force him and Puggy to take them to Arthur's house. After they leave, two FBI agents come to the bar, demanding to know where the bomb is. After experiencing an "extremity shot" to the foot, the Russians tell them.

Eddie and Snake arrive at Arthur's house and tie Matt, Eliot (who came after Matt called him), and Jenny up with telephone cords. Monica and Walter come to the house and enter to question Matt and Jenny about the shooting at the mall. The criminals tie Monica up as well, and use her handcuffs to attach Walter and Arther to a large metal rack. Jenny is kidnapped, and lifted onto the shoulder of one of the criminals. They leave for the Miami airport with Jenny, Puggy and the bomb. Nina unties everyone and they all leave for the airport (leaving Walter and Arthur, who they can't free from the handcuffs). Arthur and Walter attempt to escape and find help, and instead Arthur gets squirted in the face with a hallucinogen from a toad, which causes him to think his dog is possessed by Elizabeth Dole.

Four different groups of people reach the airport. Eddie, Snake, Puggy, and Jenny board a plane for the Bahamas, but Puggy escapes at the last minute. Eliot, Anna, Matt, Nina and Monica find him and he leads them to the airplane they boarded. Meanwhile, the two hitmen enter the airport around the same time. One of them is nearly suffocated by an escaped pet python that a man was trying to bring onto an airplane. The other hitman rescues his partner by shooting the snake in the head, but in turn is arrested by the local security. The final group consists of the two FBI agents and Officer Baker, Monica and Walter's superior. The agents tell Baker that in order to save innocent lives from being killed because of the bomb (which they find out was accidentally turned on during the airport security check), they are ordering fighter planes to shoot down the plane carrying the bomb.

Monica and Matt both manage to board the airplane just as it's taking off. Eddie, fed up with being pushed around by Snake through all of this, turns on him and tosses the suitcase overboard. Snake, unwilling to lose his "kingpin suitcase," jumps out after it. The bomb explodes in the water, killing no one except for Snake and the fish population. The story ends describing the aftermath of the incident, as well as what happens to the main characters.